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Watching Computer Content on your TV

Created date

August 30th, 2010

While your favorite TV shows, movies, and video from the Internet can be enjoyed on your computer screen, imagine being able to watch that same content on your TV from the comfort of your couch. You can hook up a computer to your TV set if you have the right cables and connections such as a DVI to HDMI cable. If you own a flat screen HDTV, you may already have a DVI input for a computer cable, which allows your TV to act as a big computer monitor.With a wireless keyword and mouse, you can type and surf the Web from across the room. But this isn t always the best solution because it requires your computer to be close to your TV for the cables to reach. The good news is there are several devices on the market made specifically to bring video content on your computer or the Internet to the big screen. Here are some of the most popular devices: WD TV Live and WD TV Live Plus ($99 - $119) This small box might not look like much, but in addition to streaming music and photos to your TV, it is actually one of the first devices to be built primarily for playing high-definition video files on your HDTV. It is also known for its ability to play virtually any video file format that can be stored on a computer or hard drive. If you have home movies on your computer that came from a camcorder, this box allows you to stream those videos across your network no matter what file format the videos are in. You can also stream music from your music library or photos from your computer. If you want to connect to a wireless network, you ll need to purchase a separate wireless adapter. (You can find compatible wireless devices on their website at Streaming HD content on a wireless signal can sometimes be choppy, so you ll want to make sure you have a fast wireless connection (802.11N is recommended). No computer network? No problem. The WD TV Live can be used with a portable USB hard drive, or a USB thumb drive that you can hook up your drive directly to the USB connection on the back of this box and play videos right off of the drive. For some people, this is easier because you can copy the music, photos, or video files you want to your portable USB hard drive and then connect it directly to the WD TV. The WD TV Live comes with a remote control to navigate through the interface. You can connect to YouTube, Live365, and Pandora to stream Internet music and video. The Plus version of the WD TV is identical to the original version, but also allows you to connect to Netflix and watch movies you have stored on your Instant Watch queue. Apple TV ($229) The Apple TV was one of the first devices to play content from the computer on the television; there are rumors that a new version will be out this fall. The Apple TV allows you to stream all of your photos, music, and HD video content (up to 720p) to your television from a computer on the same network. To use the Apple TV, you will need to store your music and videos on iTunes on any PC or Mac running on your network. The Apple TV is unique because not only can you watch content you purchase or rent on your computer, you can also download new content directly to the device. It comes with a remote to navigate through the stylish, easy-to-use interface. The Apple TV has connections for both an HDTV and a Standard Definition television. Although you can listen to Internet radio on your Apple TV and watch YouTube, you can t listen to third-party services such as Pandora or Live 365. Also, you can t watch movies off of Netflix and you are limited to watching video file formats made specifically for iTunes. A 160 GB drive is available inside the device; however, connecting an external portable USB hard drive is not an option. Netgear Digital Entertainer Live ($99.99) The Digital Entertainer Live also allows you to connect to a home network or to attach USB hard drives to play music, photos and video content in a large variety of file formats. HD content is not the Digital Entertainer Live s specialty, but you can also purchase and download On Demand movies to the device if you have a Roxio account and stream movies from the VuNow service. Netgear DE Live has two USB connections, so you can connect more than one USB drive. Connections are available for both HDTVs and older Analog TVs. If you want to connect to a wireless network, you ll need to purchase a separate wireless adapter. A remote control is included with the device to navigate on-screen menus. There are many other devices coming out later this year, including many built with Google TV. These new options may offer a variety of set-top boxes and TVs with the ability to connect directly to your computer network. Keep checking back for new product reviews as these devices become available.