I'm in that strange gaming stage where I'm torn between the significantly better graphics of my desktop gaming PC, or the comfort of playing games on a console while relaxing on a couch in front of a large plasma TV, but with noticeably crappier graphics. And since I'm a graphics whore.....A friend introduced me to the Alienware X51, which is basically a Home Theater PC, dressed up in a chassis that is only slightly larger than the original Xbox.
I decided to grab one, and instantly fell in love. It fits in perfectly with all of my home theater components and consoles. Plus, I now can game in full 1080P with maximum quality textures, shadows, AA, etc. Couple this with a wireless Xbox 360 PC controller, and you basically have something akin to a next-gen Xbox (albeit without Xbox Live). I downloaded Crysis 2, Hitman Absolution, Dishonored, XCOM, and Far Cry 3 from Steam, and all of them play at over 60FPS with just about ever bell and whistle toggled on at full 1080P.
The difference between these games on the 360/PS3 and the X51 is stunning. In addition, most upcoming action/FPS/sports games have full controller support embedded in the game, so even though the X51 uses the PC version, they play exactly like the console release. (Or you can use a wireless mouse/keyboard if you desire) I've already changed my Devil May Cry and Bioshock Infinite pre-orders from the 360 to Steam.
I'm throwing all of this out here because Alienware (Dell) has made a great little system that looks perfect in the living room, and allows gamers to experience their favorite titles with a fidelity that the PS3 and Xbox simply can't match. Now the caveat is that this is a PC, so it is still more expensive that a console- significantly so. However, Dell runs deals on the X51 with some regularity. Systems start at $699 and move into a range over $1000 dollars. However, Dell has been offering $100-300 gift cards with these systems, cash back, rewards, etc. Refurbed systems at the Dell Outlet store can also be significantly less $$. You also, obviously, can't delve into the PS+ or Xbox live ecosystem, so if that is a huge part of your gaming experience, then the X51 should be avoided.
I've built my last 3 PCs, and I had a difficult time matching the X51 if I bought comparable components myself. Plus, building a system this small is....kinda a pain in the a$$. But its nice to see that PC components have become small enough, and powerful enough, where they can fit unobtrusively in the living room. Plus, the almost universal acceptance of the Xbox controller for the PC has made things so much nicer. I remember my early days of PC gaming with various controllers from Logitech, Belkin, etc. Most of the time they weren't supported, had buggy software, or the controller just plain sucked! What a difference between then and now!
Anyway, its tax season, so those of you getting a return....
Out of curiosity, do any of you already PC game on your big screen TVs?