Internet television is growing at a phenomenal rate, with services such as Joost, Hulu and Stage6 all providing more reasons than ever to turn to your PC or laptop rather than that square box sitting in your living room.
One of the biggest problems with watching television programmes, or movies online however, is the size of the screen you are being forced to watch it on. Unless you are rich, or an early adopter of future technologies, the chances are your PC or laptop screen just isn’t up to the job any more.
You do have an option though, and that is to hook your PC or laptop up to a projector, and have all your favourite video clips, and web episodes, in glorious full screen, home theater sized goodness. But, where’s the best place to begin?
Buying A Projector
First you’ll need a PC or laptop, and a home theater projector. There are plenty of places to find them, but I’d recommend reading through lots of projector reviews before you blindly purchase one which then doesn’t suit your needs.
Prices of projectors can vary wildly, but you’ll be looking to spend between $1,000 and $3,000 for reasonable quality and a good brand.
Be aware that there is a difference between a projector being HD Ready and actually outputting HD. HD Ready simply means it can accept a HD signal, but may output in standard definition so won’t look as crisp as you might expect.
If you want to make sure your new purchase is 100% HD then look at the output. An 800×600 output is not High Definition, whereas 1280×720 (720p) or 1920×1080 (1080i or 1080p) is.
Connecting Your Projector
Connecting your PC up to your brand new projector shouldn’t be all that hard. Windows Vista for instance makes it as easy as plug and play, in most cases, providing you have the right cables to use.
As with every occasion when you are plugging or unplugging something in to your PC or laptop, you should make sure both are switched off first.
The simplest way to connect the two devices is by using a video cable. Simply plug one end of the cable in to the projector’s Computer In port, and the other in to the PC or laptop’s Video port, where you would normally plug an external monitor in.
For a better quality connection however, you’ll need an HDMI or DVI connection instead. Before you go down this route, make sure that your computer is able to handle it, as an up to date video card is at least essential for this type of connection.
Settings for the projector will vary depending on your computer, and the graphics card installed, but you should be able to at least get your projector working in tandem with the PC or laptop to create a home entertainment hub simply by adjusting resolution settings.
Experiencing Technical Difficulties
If you run into any trouble, you can visit the configuration settings to make sure your hardware is working properly.
In Windows Vista open Personalization in the Control Panel and then click Display Settings. In Windows XP open the Display icon in the Control Panel and then click the Settings tab.
Here you will be able to configure projector settings, and use it either as a second display or to display what’s currently being shown on your computer. This second option is usually the default setting.
If you are using a laptop and it is connected to a dock, this may cause problems with the projector being recognized correctly. In this case, disconnect your laptop from the dock before connecting a projector.
For additional troubleshooting, there are a number of resources on the web. Type the specific problem you are having in to your favourite search engine and you will likely find several solutions, so keep trying one until you find one that works.
A World Of Online TV Opens Up
Now that you’re up and running, what to do with your integrated home theatre? The most obvious answer is to watch High Definition content online from places such as Joost, Stage 6, and Miro.
The wealth of streaming videos on these resources should mean that you’ll never get left with nothing to watch.
There is also the option to connect your projector up to other devices such as your PS3 or Xbox 360, which now offer the ability to allow online viewing of movies, as well as playing graphically high quality games.
Then there is TiVo, which you can use to download movies via the Amazon Unbox service, meaning you’ll never again have to pay the extortionate prices being asked to watch films in cinemas or theatres.
Buying a projector can be an expensive business, but the benefits make it a very worthy purchase indeed.
From watching videos online, playing games, or downloading new movies to the comfort of your own home, you’ll soon wonder how you lived without it.
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