I picked up the SATA DVD drive, an HP model, from Best Buy last night and spent 2-3 hours plugging things in, setting up the bios and installing Windows 7. One weird thing about the Panasonic 37" was that when I rotated it 90 degrees and tilted it up (so that all the buttons were on the left side), the power shut off. After I turned it back towards horizontal it would kick on, then off again when I tried once more. After several minutes of this and scratching my head, I wondered why in the heck would that make any difference? The only thing I can think of is that maybe some board or connection makes poor contact due to gravity. In a moment of inspiration, I turned 90 degrees the other direction so that the buttons were on the right. No issues. Weird!
While Windows was installing I went off looking for one of the old Belkin G wireless adapters I had "retired". I figured they would work, even though they were a pain to configure and were prone to dropping the wireless connection. I looked everywhere but couldn't find them - I must have tossed them in disgust. So it was off again to Best Buy today to pick up a wireless adapter. I steered clear of the Belkin (I really hate them now more than ever) and picked up a Netgear USB wireless adapter. Although I would have preferred the Linksys, it was more expensive and I need to keep costs down. I thought I was $800 under budget but after adding things up last night it's closer to $500.
Back to last night...Windows installed without a hitch. I thought I would have 64 bit driver issues but nothing has materialized so far. I did install Visual Pinball and tried to run Tales of the Arabian Nights, but it gave me an error. I'm hoping now that I have an internet adapter, downloading updated Nvidia drivers will fix this. If I get it running tonight I'll take some pics for sure.
Next up: install 2nd monitor, download drivers, get Visual Pinball running successfully...