Who needs cable anymore? The networks stream their biggest shows online, you can buy dozens of others through iTunes, get movies from Amazon, and even see free documentaries at pbs.org, not to mention YouTube and video podcasts. To liberate all that content from your monitor and get it to the TV, you could buy or build a computer that sits in your living room (usually called a home-theater PC) or pick up a dedicated streaming device, which sends video over your home network. Or you could go the simple and cheap route with one of these two basic but often overlooked media-moving methods.
Two Ways To Get Online Video To The Living Room
Pro: Inexpensive (cables run $10 to $20)
Con: Computer must be fairly close to the TV
- Check your computer for a video-out port. A round one with several holes is probably an S-video connection; a rectangle is for DVI, which can carry HD video.
- Find a video-in port on your TV or cable box, and buy the proper cable (try cablestogo.com). You may also need an audio cable running from your computer’s headphone jack to your TV or receiver.
- Push your set’s “source” or “TV/VCR” button, and you’ll see what’s on your computer screen. Unless your TV is high-def, change your computer’s resolution to 640×480. If you can, switch to full-screen mode.
MEDIA HARD DRIVE
Pros: Easy to hide in the living room; can hold hundreds of hours of video
Cons: Only works with downloaded videos, not streaming media; more expensive
- Buy a hard-drive case that has A/V ports and can play video (search “media enclosure” at froogle.com). Models start at around $75 and go up to $270 for the MediaGate MG-350HD (zipzoomfly.com), which wirelessly pulls files off your computer.
- Put a hard drive in the enclosure (try dealnews.com for bargains). Attach it to your computer and fill it with video files.
- Connect the enclosure to your TV. Navigate the onscreen menus with the included remote to play your flicks, photos.