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How to watch Stream Videos From the PC to a TV?
If you have a computer located near your TV, or want to plop your laptop
next to it, there are several
different ways to connect the two devices and stream video.
Most computers have a VGA, DVI or S-video output. If your TV and computer have a matching cable connection, such as a
VGA-to-VGA, your job just got easier. If not, you can track down cables to connect just about any combination of
outputs and inputs. Also, be sure to download the latest drivers for your computer’s video card to get the best
possible connection and resolution.
If you have an S-Video output on your computer, check to see if it's a 7-pin or 4-pin. If it matches up to your
TV's S-video input, you should be in business.
With a standard-definition TV, you can use a VGA to video converter that outputs composite video for your TV, but you will
lose resolution and text and graphics won't be as sharp.
If you have an HDTV, you have several options, including VGA, DVI and HDMI, and all of these offer higher quality
than S-video. DVI is a common digital signal that outputs a higher quality picture than VGA. You can pick up a DVI-to-HDMI
cable on the cheap these days (about $10), so this is one of the easiest and best ways to go. Looking ahead, more
computers will come with HDMI outputs, which should simplify matters even more.
You'll still have to connect your computer's audio signal to your TV or to your AV system if you want the streamed
audio signal to come out of your TV or your AV system. None of the computer's video outputs (VGA, S-video, or DVI)
output the audio signal, unless you have a DVI-to-HDMI converter cable, and a graphics card that supports outputting
audio through unused DVI pins, such as the ati radeon 2600 or many later cards. If this is the case, simply connect
the adapter included with your card, and an HDMI cable. Your computer will have either a single, stereo miniplug (female)
audio output or two RCA 1/4" phono plug (female) outputs for right and left stereo channels. Your TV will have stereo audio
inputs, usually next to the PC input. If your TV or AV system does not have a miniplug input, you'll need a mini-to-RCA
Y-adapter cable ($5+/-), which come in lengths up to 12 feet. If you connect with RCA 1/4" stereo phono plugs ($5 +/-),
they come in lengths ranging from two feet up to over 50 feet.
Of course, nobody likes wires. So here's some of the easiest ways to get up and streaming sans wires:
Many hard-drive manufacturers are also building media players, so type in "media player" on Amazon and other
shopping sites, and a variety of players from companies like Iomega, D-Link, and Western Digital will pop up. Some
of the key features you want to check out with media players are the outputs, interface and navigation, as well as
video codec support (codecs are used to play different types of media files). The Apple TV, for instance, uses
either HDMI or component video to connect to your HDTV, but its codec support is limited. So if you have a large
collection of video files from different sources, then find a media player that supports lots of different codecs:
DivX, Xvid, WMV, QuickTime, what have you. With the interface, some media players use a bare-bones approach that
may bring you back to the glory days of MS-DOS, while others like the Apple TV have a much more user-friendly design.
One advantage Apple TV has over most of its competitors is that it has built-in storage and can be used as a
standalone device, so you don't need to have a computer that runs iTunes to stream or sync content to it.
Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
If you already have one of these gaming platforms, you've also got a video-streaming device, which can be
used for wireless or wired (better bandwidth) streaming. In both cases, you need to seek out some detailed
instructions on the web, and then brace yourself for some networking fun (sic). To make the setup somewhat
easier, you can employ a media-server software program like TVersity, which is free for noncommercial use.
Sling Media has built a number of solid video-streaming products over the years, starting with its SlingBox,
which lets you watch and control your home TV/DVR from a laptop or mobile phone while you're away from home.
The company's new SlingCatcher is a Windows-only device that lets you play whatever’s on your PC’s monitor on
your TV in another room. It also allows you to watch and control your TV or DVR on another TV in your house or
in any web-connected location.
The Series 3 TiVo has the ability to stream audio/video from your home PC. For Mac OS X, the PyTiVoX
project provides an easy to use solution for downloading content from your TiVo and streaming video
your TiVo. For PC users, the TiVo Desktop Plus software (from TiVo) works similarly at a nominal cost.
Some HDTVs already come equipped with built-in Ethernet ports, and before long this will be a standard
feature along with wireless receivers. With the addition of some built-in software to decode the media files,
streaming content from any PC or Mac
on your home network will be a one-click, zero-headache affair.