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If there’s one aspect of the Lumina design that looks a little clumsy it’s the RF receiver for the BTC wireless keyboard. The receiver is clamped onto the side of the chassis, and although it can’t be seen from the front, it does look slightly messy when you view the side. It would have been good to have hidden the receiver inside the chassis, but the end user needs to have access to the sync button on the receiver to get it talking to the keyboard.
Elonex has tried to be as flexible as possible when it comes to TV reception. The TV tuner card has both analogue and DVB receivers, although you can only use one at a time. The great thing about this tuner card is that you can use the analogue tuner if you can’t get a DVB signal yet, then you can switch to DVB when it becomes available in your area. The analogue tuner also means that you can pump a Sky box into the Lumina. Adding to the TV feature set is the fact that the screen itself still has its own tuner. So, you can quite happily watch analogue terrestrial TV without even having to boot up the PC. For those out there who want to be able to record one DVB channel while watching another, Elonex will be offering dual DVB tuners at the end of July.
The rear of the Lumina looks just like the rear of any other LCD TV, but there’s a wide array of connection options spanning both PC and TV technology. Here you’ll find the aforementioned component video inputs, along with a set of stereo audio inputs to complement them. There’s also an aerial connection for the TV tuners as well as an antenna connection for the FM radio. There’s a full set of 5.1-channel analogue outputs and an optical digital output so that you can pump the audio to an external amplifier or decoder.
If there’s one thing missing in the connection department, it’s an HDCP compliant HDMI connector. Unfortunately this means that the next generation of DVD players and satellite boxes, designed for high definition output, will not be able to connect digitally to the Lumina. Given, you’ll still get a pretty stunning image over a component video progressive scan connection, but the ultimate in quality will be digital from end to end.
Elonex has assured me that an HDMI link will be available on future models of the Lumina, but the tricky part is integrating satellite control into Media Center over a digital input. The easiest thing to do would just be to include a digital input on the screen itself and run your Sky box as normal, but Elonex always goes for total integration over the easy option – I guess that’s why no one else has a Media Center solution like the Lumina.
There’s no denying that the Lumina is the best implementation of Media Center, by quite some margin. Sitting on your sofa and navigating Media Center on a 40in screen is quite an experience, and really does give you that “digital home” feeling. Everything that I’ve said before about the Media Center interface stands stronger than ever with this machine – it really is a fantastic way to access all your digital media quickly and easily from the comfort of your living room.