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How to Turn Your Desktop into a Networked Home Multimedia Device

The future of home technology seems to point towards the integration of devices into a single, controlling device, such as a desktop PC. With developments in the capabilities of wireless routers and networks taking place at an astounding rate, more and more options are becoming available to home users and it appears that they will soon be able to control every piece of home media technology through a single computer. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a simple guide as to how you can begin integrating your media devices into a single home network, allowing easy control.

Smart TVs

SmartTV
Smart TV

Smart TVs seem to be one of the most popular means of combining multimedia functions, giving the viewer access to their computer’s music, video and image libraries through their TV. This usually works wirelessly and allows the viewer to switch effortlessly between watching TV, playing their music or browsing YouTube. Though there have been issues with user control in the past, more and more intuitive control interfaces and remotes are becoming available, including touch screen universal remote controls. Smart TVs are also becoming much more affordable for those on strict budgets, with companies like Richer Sounds boasting some great bargains.

Apple TV

Apple TV
Apple TV

Apple TV works in much the same way as a Smart TV, allowing you to stream media found on your Apple devices straight to the TV. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. More recent Apple TV models give users the opportunity to stream high-definition rented content, access world news or watch your favourite baseball team with MLB.TV. Being a plug and play device, it can easily be connected to your existing television and won’t cost you nearly as much as a new TV.

Home Cinema

Creating a home cinema space can be the perfect way to put your desktop to good use, playing the best in new blockbusters and old classics in the comfort of your front room. If you have the space available, it is well worth thinking about investing in a projector to give you the best picture quality possible and make the experience that much more special. By connecting your computer wirelessly to a home cinema network, you’ll be able to screen movies that you’ve downloaded or stored on your desktop, as well as being able to use it as a DVD player.

Wireless Speakers

One of the biggest issues facing those that want a good sound, or surround sound in particular, is the need for speakers to be placed strategically all around a room. This causes huge wiring and cabling challenges, as no one likes to have visible cables running all over the room and they can present a safety problem. Fortunately, wireless speaker sets and cabinets are becoming more and more popular and widely available. Giving you infinite placement possibilities and removing the need for complex cabling solutions, wireless speakers are incredibly versatile and a great investment.

Wireless Router

A number of problems with home multimedia networks arise from the fact that users often forget the need to upgrade their router technology. As one of the most important pieces of technology in any wireless network, your router can either greatly inhibit your capabilities if not modern enough. There are an enormous number of router models available on the market, most of which are relatively inexpensive, and which one you opt for will largely depend on your specific needs. If you are really looking for top of the range, explore the dual band router option, as they are widely considered the best for multimedia streaming needs.

Media Rental Services

Digital media rental services, where users are able to rent films or TV shows by downloading them for a certain number of days, have become increasingly popular over the past few years. They have also become an integral part of home multimedia networks, often being run from desktops or laptops and streamed directly to a TV. These services give you a vast array of films and TV shows to pick from and usually give you good value for money. Some of the most popular services include Netflix and LOVEFiLM.

Comfortable Viewing Experience

Finally, it is important to remember that all this technology is nothing without a fantastic and incredibly comfortable viewing experience. Make sure you have the sofas at just the right angle and far enough away from your television or computer, that the lights are dimmed and the popcorn ready. If you have an exceptionally loud computer, you may want to think about basing it in another room, so as to not spoil the viewing experience. If you take the time to set up this multimedia heaven to the best of your ability, you’ll be sure to reap the benefits in the long run!

Image credits- Wikipedia and Apple
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