Watch downloads on your TV

About The Author

CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

The connected house:
music and video in any room

As the world becomes more connected, video downloads outrun their traditional counterparts and online music stores well and truly take hold, many have begun thinking about chipping away the old ball and chain that is physical media. Begone CD! Thou art banished DVD! Standalone players are cast out! Digital is in, and we want to experience our downloads all around the home — and with the help of a home network, some centralised storage and decent media playing hardware, it's entirely within your grasp.

The goal

To collate all your music and videos in one spot, then be able to access them from wherever you want in your house, without the need for hunting down CDs or DVDs.

What do I need?

At the bare minimum, you'll need a computer, a router, the appropriate network cables and a multimedia player. If you want to watch stuff on your TV, you'll need one of those too, or if you're just after music you might want some kick-arse speakers. Ideally you'll have some sort of file server with a quantifiable buttload of storage space (that's in measured in gigabytes or terabytes, not cubic metres), a gigabit router, a broadband connection and the aforementioned multimedia player.

The final goal is to put all your media files on a central storage device, then feed them to the set top box which in turn is hooked up to the TV.

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CB posted a comment   

>Great advice, i went out and put together this (PS3 & DLink dns 323) My problem is that i get a "DNLA Protocol error 2113" when i try to view any media on the server?? Any answers?

download the new firmware 1.4 to fix that exact problem.


TP posted a comment   

Where do we find the 8 digit code on the Playstation 3? I have the connection through the Windows Media Player, but I would love to use the media center. Thanks


JamesG posted a comment   

my system:
MS Vista Home Premium, Intel Core 2 Duo E4300, 2GB Kingmax RAM, Nvidia 7800GTX, 80GBsataII & 250GBsataII, DVico dual digital tuner, Gigabyte mb, MS infrared cordless kboard & remote, Samsung 81cm LCD.

Yes, the kb & remote do all that theyre meant to in Media Center. Ive done a few reg tweaks and other things (easily found on the net) to make my Media Center behave like a TV, i.e when I power it up Vista automatically launches Media Center and then automatically goes into live TV.

My fave thing about this system is downloading movies & TV shows (whole seasons at a time) via torrents.


Mugen posted a comment   

JamesG - Thst $1200 sounds very reasonable, any chance you can list the pc specs and tuner card you used you used. I'm looking for a dual ditigal and analogue tuner. The case model would be really goos also. Is yours fully Media Centre compatable - ie. you can use the remote control for everything?


Wozza posted a comment   

Great advice, i went out and put together this (PS3 & DLink dns 323)
My problem is that i get a "DNLA Protocol error 2113" when i try to view any media on the server??
Any answers?


JamesG posted a comment   


i built mine for about $1200 by buying the parts from a Canberra computer fair. The case was about $100. I have an MSDN subscription so was able to get Vista Home Premium for free - this has Media Center.

the website to start at is

My 32" Samsung LCD is 720p and costs about $1400-1500 these days.


Mugen posted a comment   

I love to setup a HTPC but the cost for good case - with a volume control nad LCD dispaly espcially the glossly black ones (hehe) alone can be $500+. To Play full HD and have HD sound and a digital tuner, add software and you have a masive bill $$$. I've seen pre made systems go for $4000+. Though the result with a Media Centre remote looks and feels great. I'm think of the TVIX 4130 (plays just about everything and has a digital tuner) add the biggest HDD I can find and it should do me over for now. Unless anyone havs any tips on setting up/purchsing a HTPC for a similar price.


JamesG posted a comment   

Who doesnt want a stylish PC in their loungeroom? My Media Center PC is a gloss black finish and doesnt resemble a PC at all. Indeed its the only thing in my entertainment system apart from the LCD up top.

Personally im not one for massive collections so a single large HDD is currently all I need for fave TV shows and movies.


Craig Simms posted a comment   

Spot on James, although Linux alternatives like MythTV (and eventually XBMC when it's fully ported) provide good solutions too, as long as there's internet access then you've got a great system right there.

Some however don't like a PC being in their living room -- and even if it's disguised well as a piece of home theatre equipment, then there's often not much physical room for disk storage, which means if your collection grows out of control you'll have to rely on a networked fileserver of some sort anyway.

In saying that, most will be happy with a single terabyte drive, even if losing so much data in one hit due to mechanical failure would be a nightmare.


JamesG posted a comment   

The simplest solution is Windows Media Center and it rocks.

It lets you:
watch high def digital TV (no need for set-top box)
record straight to HDD (no need for PVRs, VCRs or DVD recorders)
play DVDs (throw out DVD player)

Just put a digital tuner card in a PC, plonk Windows Vista on it, attach an LCD TV and youre off and running!

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