July 25, 2008
Dear CNET members,
Happy Friday folks! Many years ago the topic of integrating your computer as part of your home entertainment center was a fairly uncommon practice, and for the few folks who did it at the time, there were a lot of ooohs and ahhhs! All because back then broadband was not readily available. Hard-drive storage was at a premium, video cards with video connections were very limited and costly, and let's not forget the 2.0 sound cards. This short list of hurdles mentions just a few of the many that existed back then.
Today, the whole landscape has changed. Many prepackaged computer systems are meant to hook up to your home entertainment center, and operating systems are written specifically for the media center. The necessary hardware to hook it all up is now readily available and ranges from large capacity hard drives to video cards with an analog connection, and DVI and HDMI to cover the HDTVs, all the way to 7.1 channel surround sound cards. And with broadband available to most people, online purchasing of music and movies couldn't be easier, and it only takes seconds to minutes to download the content. With all this media at your fingertips ready to be viewed, played, and listened to from a computer and enjoyed as an integral part of your entertainment center, who wouldn't want to look into setting this up?
However, the question from member Phil is: Is it still expensive to do this? Is it difficult to build or set up? Is it possible to eliminate the physical media and incorporate it into the computer so he won't have to put up with the space that it all takes up? And last but not least, are there any new technologies or methods that he may not be aware of? Well, Phil, I've gone through the answers and let me tell you that while we didn't get the sheer volume of answers as we normally get for certain topics, we sure have a lot of great informative suggestions and answers from our members that we hope will give you and all the folks out there an idea of what is involved in integrating a computer into your home entertainment center. I have selected a few member answers to get you started in the Q & A section, but please read all the advice from our members. So grab a seat, read up, ask more questions if you have any, discuss, and learn from our helpful members. For those of you who have a computer as an integral part of your home entertainment center, I urge you to join us in the discussion and describe your system to us and how you got started and all set up. We are all here as a community to learn from one another, so your contribution to the discussion is appreciated! Have a great weekend everyone!
Member Question of the Week
I have been noticing a lot of people attaching their PC to
their television now. Most people that I know are only using
it as a monitor for their computer, but I know the technology
is farther along than that. Having all my media on the hard
drive seems like a great way to clear the shelves of the
tacky CD & DVD cases, as well as a way to easily access media
files. I would like to know how far along it is. Is using my
PC as a component to my media center a viable option? Is it
really expensive? What are some of the things that I'm not
even aware of? Any info you can provide would be greatly
Just some member contributions to get you started, but please read through the all answers!
Media centers of the future...
--Submitted by: Wolfie2k5
Lots of possibilities
--Submitted by: bluemist9999
Been using my PC as my "Entertainment Center" since 2004
--Submitted by: Bubba_Gump
--Submitted by: Impreza WRX
Read all member contributions
Thanks to all who contributed!
Previous week's Q&A
Please help. I'm taking off on a road trip across the country
soon for about a month. I'm lugging my laptop along for
the ride to check e-mail, get maps, and directions, and
everything in between to make the best out of my trip. I will
be using a wireless connection to access the Internet at
hotels, Starbucks, and other hot spots that are available,
but my concern is always security in these public areas. At
home I know my wireless connection only allows me to be
connected to it, but when I'm out there in the open, how
vulnerable am I? I see people using Wi-Fi all the time at
coffee shops and airports, but I always wonder how do they
make their system safe from intrusions or threats?! Maybe
they don't. Regardless, I'm not willing to take any chances.
So is there a list of public Wi-Fi dos and don'ts when
using it to ensure my laptop's safety? I would love to get a
checklist of items I will need to do to ensure my
information on my laptop is not compromised. Can you please
help me out here?
Thanks to all who contributed!
Each week we take a look at topics discussed in the forums.
Have fun and enjoy!
More from the forums
Check out next week's question:
I'd like to get an external hard drive to use for backup of files and maybe as a main access point for music and photos. I'm not sure what brands are best or what vendor I should purchase from. I want at least 300GB but probably more. The drive should be easily connected and detached, and synching between the drives for backing up data should be simple (I don't want to manually search all folders in a directory to figure out which ones have been updated since last backup).
I'm more concerned with reliability and durability than with getting the lowest price, as I will be counting on the drive for file backup. What are some members' recommendations? Is it a bad idea to use a backup drive for regular access to music and photos? I play music on my PC a lot and don't want to wear out my primary drive. Using a Dell Dimension 5150 with Windows XP. Thanks!!
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