Home computer systems

I'm loving the new technologies available for home life.  Lately, I've been strategizing on how best to invest in computing technologies for my family.  When our budget allows, I would like to buy a new computer or two to create an awesome technology environment.  I currently see three major roles for computers in our house.  The first is the entertainment hub, for TV, movies, games, and chatting with friends.  The second role is for day-to-day living paying bills and managing finances, looking up recipes, reading the news, email, Facebook, Skype, and general Internet activities.  Lastly, I need a home office for research, writing, statistics, web development, and other business-y things.

For my entertainment hub, the Xbox 360 almost takes care of all my needs.  Now that Microsoft has purchased Skype, they need to integrate that software with the xBox so that I can use my Kinect for video chats from my living room to other Skype users.  How cool would that be?  We also subscribe to Netflix, which xBox supports the instant downloads (as does our blue-ray player, but the player can't handle games).  We may also subscribe to Hulu for more recent TV shows when we kill our cable, which is also supported by xBox.  If only the xBox had a browser, it would be the perfect entertainment system for us.  I've looked at both Apple TV and Google TV.  They both offer some nice features, such as the ability to download apps and Internet browsers and what not, but they cost just a bit more than I want to spend.   For what they cost, I could just buy a small computer and use the TV as an extra large monitor.

In the second role, we already own a laptop and a netbook, which are close, but not quite what we need.  Their tethering to power cords is a bother, especially my laptop which quite literally has about 10 minutes of battery life left.  I desperately need to buy a new battery for it... or simply get a replacement.  And the keyboards make them take more space than I would ideally like.  I've contemplated a tablet PC, either the iPad or one of the Android tablets.  They have great battery life, are smaller and more convenient than a netbook or laptop, and could handle most of our day-to-day needs.  The downside, they do not integrate well with our other computing systems.  Although we could move to cloud storage, there may not be the apps for both the tablet and Window's computers to sync everything the way I want.  I've also considered spending a bit more on a Windows All-in-one touch desktops.  Perhaps we could put this in the kitchen so my wife could look up recipes, check email, watch the news, listen to music or anything else she wants to do while prepping her awesome meals.  She could keep her netbook in the living room so we could have Internet access there.  With our Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, we could still watch many shows while the kids and I are waiting for dinner or eating breakfast.

While I am sure to have sufficient computing resources at work, I would like to create an environment at home so that I can complete all of my work as efficiently as I can at the office.  For that, I would need a desktop computer with sufficient power and a dual monitor setup for maximum productivity.  I'm also really digging video conference calls, so would have a descent web cam and headphones for making any business calls.

Now, all I need is the money.  Ideally, I would like to create a value dense selection of systems to best meet our needs at the lowest price. How are you creating your home computing environment?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

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