Wednesday, March 26, 2008

HDD to TV

i got an email this morning from ad-roc asking for some advice on what is best to use to get movie files off the computer in the study, and onto the tv in the lounge room.

there's a few different ways to do this and all have pro's and cons.


hard drive media player
this is essentially a hard drive with a media player in it to play them on the tv. this is good if you don't have a pc to store all your files on it. i have one of these, but it's an older model and the the processor isn't powerfull enough to deal with the larger movie files. so it lags and hangs constantly. i now use it just as a hard drive.
if you're going to get one of these, you'll need to spend the money on a good quality, good brand. that way you shouldn't have a problem.


streaming media player
this system uses your wifi network to stream the files direct from your computer, and anyone elses in your wifi network, to your tv. this is good because you don't have to duplicate every file from your computer. though sometimes there can be lag over your wireless network as it streams. this means that you will have to keep your files on your computer though so if disc space is problem, then this might not be for you.


apple tv.
this thing lets you do both. you can stream music and movies direct from your computer through your wifi network straight to your tv. or you can use the 40, or 160 hdd to copy your itunes to the device and run them straight from that. i would love this thing, but because i don't run mac osx, all my files aren't compatible = i'd have to convert all my files to ones that can play through itunes / quicktime using handbrake.
using apple tv means you can rent movies, or watch tv shows from the itunes store and watch youtube videos on the system too.it also has video podcasts, Flickr and .Mac integration.

the good thing is that you don't really even need a computer to use this as it's a stand alone device.
the bad news is that there is limited content (movies n stufff) on itunes at the moment, although this will surely change. there is no movie rental support for australia (but if 90% of your movies are from bittorrent anyway, then who cares).
(disclaimer: i am a mac whore)


S-Video port
get one of these for your laptop and just hook it up to your tv. or you can simply buy a hard drive, whack your files on that, connect the hard drive to the laptop, and the laptop to the tv. this would probably be the cheapest way to go as the price of storage devices is in freefall. you can get 500 GB for about $250. S-video cards are under a hundred.
this is what i do at the moment. it's a little messy and means that you have to hook the laptop up to the tv every time you want to watch a movie, but it works a charm. it also means you can surf the net on your tv, watch youtube vids etc.


chip and xbox.
this is what i'm looking at doing at the moment. it's cleaner, simpler, and has a good interface. you just need to pick up an xbox off ebay for just over 50 bucks, get it chipped and whack in a hard drive. easy. 


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