Frustrating, however, because the process of getting around the system and to my content was just too slow. I was using a Media Center PC as one of my servers and needed only to sit at it and access the same files directly from the Media Center Start screen to be reminded how long it took to get things done at the MediaSmart TV in the other room, even with a wired 100 Mbps network connection. Response to my commands to pull up the menus or content virtually always took anywhere from a few annoying beats to a few seconds, and in some cases, longer, especially if I was asking the TV to multitask. At one point, I was using the nav keys on the remote to step through through some 1.5-MB vacation photos while playing a 192-kbps WMA file, and for some reason it took about 10 seconds to bring up each picture. When I turned off the music, response time dropped to a more reasonable 3 seconds. At other times, the TV perfectly executed slide shows against music with no trouble at all. It was generally glitch-free, just sluggish.
On the upside, once a selected video or music track came up, it usually played flawlessly, even 720p WMV-HD clips. Picture quality was excellent on files with decent resolution, and the sound from both the digital and analog audio outputs was great. And I can't say enough about how cool it was to access Rhapsody and my music files from the TV, to tap into online sources for video clips and trailers I could then watch from the couch, and to be able to share digital photos with visitors without crowding them around my laptop. This is potentially lifestyle-changing stuff.
BOTTOM LINE With the MediaSmart TV, HP has recognized that the digital age has transformed our PCs into vast repositories of personal and entertainment content that yearn to be freed from the shackles of the home office. After getting a taste through a pretty kick-ass LCD connected to a good sound system, I'm convinced they're right. While the technology to pull this off isn't quite as seamless today as it needs to be for a mass-market appliance, this TV has its heart in the right place. It's yet to be seen if one of HP's low-slung entertainment centers, right there in the living room running Windows Vista, won't be the better solution. But, regardless, the HP SLC3760N 37-inch MediaSmart LCD HDTV points the way to a grand future.
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