Are you still watching TV and listening to music in the same old way? Or are you tired of always tidying up the spaghetti wiring caused by your TV, Blu-ray player, laptop and everything else we use for watching movies, listening to music and playing games? If so, read on. i’m going to show you how you can build a simple media center for your entertainment needs, for less than a price of a used TV.
Choosing the entertainment hardware
First of all, have a think about what sort of hardware you want to use as the foundation of your entertainment center. Your home PC is a good starting point, but it’s also possible to build your own quite easily that is more than capable of streaming HD movies, playing the latest games, and screening your entire Blu-ray or DVD collection. There are plenty of guides out there that reveal what you need to build an entertainment hub in precise detail, and it’s possible to do so for less than $500.
Connect your PC and your TV
Most people can already connect their PCs and TVs together – they just don’t know how to. It’s easy to do, however, and a basic understanding of a few terms will give you all you need to know.
In essence, you need to create a client/server setup, which sounds confusing but is actually quite simple. Your computer acts as your media server, which connects to a media extender – a small box that plugs into your TV and converts all signals to allow it to play through the television. The media extender connects to your TV with an Ethernet cable – or you can use wireless networking if you want to avoid wires.
Software and services
There are a variety of media software and services to choose from. Something like SageTV is a simple program that allows you to catalog and store all your digital content. Streaming services are also available and are easy to set up.
For example, you can download ShowBox PC – Windows and Mac versions are available as well as the basic Android version for tablets and smartphones. Netflix and Hulu are also straightforward and cheap to set up, and there are free TV options, too. For music fans, Spotify is the market leader, and a subscription for streaming all the music you want costs less than a ticket to the movie theater.
Tuners and storage
Two important things you need to consider for your home entertainment hub are tuners and storage capacities. Your media server needs a TV tuner card to record and watch TV. If you want to do both at the same time you’ll need to get two TV tuners or a dual tuner – you can pick one of these up for less than $120. You can then connect your TV antenna to your PC rather than your TV, and it will allow you to watch live TV as normal.
Storage is another important thing to invest in. You can pick up 2 TB hard drives these days for around $70-80, which should be more than enough to store thousands of songs and hundreds of hours of TV and movies.
Do you have a media and entertainment hub? Why not share how you set up your center in the comments section below?
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