We get asked a lot about getting digital media from a PC or a piece of large-scale digital storage directly onto a nice, big display. Generally, these questions come from people looking to get their high-definition content onto their HDTV. With that in mind, we’re going to go through a few of the different ways to get some content from your PC to your TV without any big headaches.
We’ll start with dedicated devices and then work from there, but basically there are about three or four fairly easy ways to get your video library from your hard drive to your TV without burning a mountain of DVDs, which is (let’s face it) both awkward and honestly feels a bit transient.
Dedicated Media Player:
The first option, by far the easiest in terms of technical skill needed to get everything together, is to just pick up a dedicated media player. The whole thing needn’t take longer than the time it takes to copy across all of your media, though the down side is that you’ll need to sort yourself out with both a media player and storage (if you go with some of the more popular media players).
By far the most popular media player we sell is Western Digital’s WD TV HD Media Player. It’s nice and simple, all you need to do is plug it into the display itself (HDMI ports would be ideal), plug in an external drive and you’re ready to go. The WD TV comes highly recommended and very well reviewed. Moreover, we’ve now got the Western Digital TV Mini too, though it outputs at DVD quality rather than in HD.
To quote the folks from TrustedReviews, “… while we’ve come across all sorts of variations on the ‘getting my multimedia stored on my computer to play on my living room TV’ theme, this is the first that has taken such a simple and effective approach”
Of course, you’ll need to grab some extra storage if you pick it up. Normally we recommend that people consider very carefully whether they’ll get the use out of a drive that will have to be plugged into a wall socket, but given the fact that the drive will likely be in near-continuous use in the same place, so it’s nowhere near as big an issue.
Generally, our best-selling external drive (and one of the best deals going in terms of price-per-gigabyte, for the ratio fanatics out there) is Western Digital’s Elements 1TB. It’ll only set you back to the tune of €76.
That brings the total cost for those of you going for a dedicated media player to around the €165, which isn’t a bad deal at all for 1TB of media connected directly to your TV.
NAS Media Players:
There are a few reasons why people might prefer to use a network-based option rather than one with a nice high-capacity drive installed. Perhaps the biggest reason is that it avoids the admittedly fairly minor inconvenience you’ll run into from time to time when you decide to dump additional media onto the device.
There aren’t nearly as many options in the network attached storage (NAS) turned media player category, but there are some excellent devices out there.
Conceptronic makes a 500GB media player that sells for around the €132.50 mark. The fact that it’s got its own internal 500GB drive and an Ethernet connection means you can hook it up to your network and transfer files without ever having to worry about physically moving either the device or any cables. It might seem like a small convenience, but over time it starts to feel more and more worthwhile.
For those who prefer the interface offered by the Western Digital Media Player above there’s also the option of the recently released Western Digital WD TV Live, which is very much like the model above, except that it boasts LAN functionality. Naturally, you’ll be paying more for the privilege, the WD TV Live weighs in at the €145 mark. Moreover, it also boasts a HDMI port, one respect in which the Conceptronic is a touch lacking.
It’s more expensive, but if you’re to take it from us the extra expense now will save you enough time and effort in the future that you’re likely better off just going with the network-capable version.
Home Theatre PC:
The third option is the most expensive, and also the most expensive of the three, but it’s also the most versatile and rewarding of all of the possible options. It might seem like a bit of a leap, but it’s certainly worthwhile.
This might be one that seems a little beyond most, but it’s well worth considering. While a standalone media player will get you all of your media from your PC over to your TV without nearly as much bother, a home theatre PC will sort you out with the same, the option to play whatever games you feel inclined to give a go on a nice, big display. Moreover, the options for web browsing or whatever else you please make the whole thing even more attractive.
Of course, putting together your own home theatre PC is a bit more ambitious than other projects, but it’s well worth the time and effort. If you’re at all interested, then we should probably point out that it’s a relatively easy build to put together if you’ve done any kind of a build-your-own-PC kind of work before.
If you’re the kind of person to consider assembling your own home theatre PC, then you should check out the series of articles we put together on it earlier on in the year. There’s a fairly detailed how-to for selecting hardware, physically putting the whole thing together and keeping it cool and then for getting all of the relevant software put onto the device itself. It’s not too difficult to manage at all, and those who’ve done it seem very pleased with the whole affair.
It’s an excellent project, and one that leaves you with a solid home media option.
Well, that’s it from us for now, if you have any questions or comments at all then you shouldn’t hesitate to drop them into the comments section below or shoot them our way over at the @Komplettie Twitter account.
I’ll reply to as many comments and questions as humanly possible :)