When it comes to screen size, going big can sometimes cause more pain than pleasure. Case in point, when we were living in our 300-square-foot studio, there was no way to engineer our media space without practically sitting on top of our 42-inch LCD. Jason Sewell had a similar dilemma with the layout of his living room in Richmond, Va. but rather than endure eye strain, he used the space under his stairs to build his media center. Jason created a built-in where his 50-inch Samsung DLP could rest. Recessed below the TV are Jason's peripherals -- a Dual-Core Mac Mini, Series 2 Tivo, and a Comcast HD STB. A closet under the stairs, accessible from the other room, gives Jason access to all the wiring, plus hides a 1-terabyte hard drive array, audio amplifier, 30Mb/s FIOS connection, EyeTV 500 HD tuner, and a big UPS backup. Oh hell ya.
Jason uses the EyeTV to record HD content, both over-the-air and clear-QAM broadcast (the non-premium channels) on cable. The TiVo records standard-definition shows. "I've got 5 tuners total in the setup and I can record three shows concurrently while watching a fourth," he writes on his Flickr page. He uses a bluetooth mouse and keyboard to control the MacMini.