Some consumers find a 21 ″ LCD television to be the perfect size – for watching TV and for use as a computer monitor. Some take it one step further: integrate their 21 ″ LCD TV with a home theater PC. It’s easier than you think, and a home theater PC setup allows you to access any media files such as digital image files, audio and video files. You can also watch your favorite TV or DVD shows and you can even use the 21 “LCD TV as a computer monitor. It’s no wonder, then, that some consumers find a 21” LCD TV to be one of the formats of most versatile screen available.
If you watch digital television on your 21-inch LCD TV, you may already be taking advantage of the capabilities of digital video recorders (DVRs) or TiVos. You can take it one step further; Integrating your 21 “LCD TV with a home theater PC setup is the ultimate in versatility. And it’s not that difficult, here are a few ways at your disposal.
1. Purchase a PC with the Media Center version of Windows XP and make sure it has a TV tuner card that can pick up digital signals from your cable or satellite box. Once installed, it works like a DVR. There is no need to buy a high-end PC to integrate with the 21 ″ LCD TV if you just want to record and play shows and movies; If you also want to play graphics-intensive video games, you may need a more expensive PC with higher graphics capabilities. Just make sure you have plenty of memory.
2. Update your PC. You can purchase a copy of the Microsoft operating system from Media Center. It often comes with a TV tuner card that you will need. If you have decent computer skills, you can manage the setup quite easily and your 21-inch LCD TV home theater PC setup will be up and running in no time.
3. If you don’t want to upgrade to a new operating system, various software companies produce applications that perform the same tasks as Media Center. Some are available as free software, but the features they offer tend to be limited. You will have to take into account the cost of a TV tuner card; a TV tuner card will not be included with the free software.
Once you decide how to set up your computer, you can integrate it into your home theater system so that the 21-inch LCD TV can handle the video stream that is sent to it. A 21 ″ drive is ideal for this purpose; Larger computers sometimes have reduced picture quality when the TV signal is sent through the computer.
How you send the signal to your TV is the main obstacle to overcome. There are many different audio and video options for linking the two; the method chosen will obviously depend on the inputs and outputs available on both the PC and the TV. Older standard definition LCD TVs will have at least one composite video connection (a yellow video connection that is usually accompanied by red and white stereo audio jacks). Hopefully it will also provide an S-Video port. Newer 21 “LCD TVs should provide component inputs, while more advanced 21” HDTV compatible LCD TVs will provide DVI or HDMI inputs. If you haven’t purchased a 21-inch LCD TV yet, try to find a model with DVI or HDMI inputs.
Once your computer is connected to the 21-inch TV, you can use Media Center to track your media files and manage your DVR’s recording needs. If you want to record TV without using Media Center, similar products on the market can do the job. For example, SnapStream’s Beyond TV comes with many TV tuner cards, so if you’re building a home theater system or upgrading a machine you already own, you may end up with a default copy. And you can go a step further and add the Beyond Media program to organize photos, music and other media files, and it does pretty much everything Media Center does. Beyond TV is not compatible with all TV tuner cards on the market, so check the hardware specifications of your 21 ″ LCD TV before installing it.
Even if you’re not interested in recording TV shows, you can still use programs like Windows Media Player, iTunes, and PowerDVD to manage your pre-existing media library with the software you already have.