Watch downloads on your TV

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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.

All your devices will plug into this one — the router. It's how they'll talk.

The heart of the network

To connect all of these devices, we need a router. Why a router instead of a switch? Ease of use mainly — routers have DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) built in, meaning that they will be able to set the Internet Protocol addresses (IP) of all the devices hooked into it automatically. A switch requires you to set IPs manually, and can be a bit more hassle to manage.

For the not so au fait with the lingua franca of networking, it basically means you can plug in your computer, media player and other devices into the router and there's a very good chance they'll be able to get on the network without any need for further set-up. For those who run into troubles, you may want to check out our networking guides.

Router choice

In terms of router choice, you may want to buy a combined ADSL modem/router, to get Internet access as well. You could also go wireless, and for most standard definition video content as long as you get a strong signal this should be sufficient — just make sure you get one with 802.11n. It also neatly gets rid of any cabling which could be a potential trip hazard — or spouse hazard if they can't abide the sight of blue, red, yellow or grey network cables strung all over the place.

If you're planning on hi-def content though (or simply want reliable throughput), a wired connection is where it's at. HDTV content can stream up to 25 Megabits per second (Mbps), HD DVD peaks at 36Mbps and Blu-ray at 54Mbps — so you can get away with a cheaper 100Mbit wired router for all your transfers, if you like — although if you're going to be doing file transfers to other computers, gigabit is faster and always a nice bit of future-proofing.

How do I connect to a router?

In terms of cabling it's quite easy — your local Officeworks or computer store will sell perfectly fine Cat5e cable (otherwise known as network or Ethernet cable) in variable lengths which will handle gigabit transfer speeds fine. Pretty much everything on the home network we're talking about will have an Ethernet port (sometimes called network port) except the TV, so this is our universal connector, of sorts. You plug one end into your device, the other into the router. Easy!

Routers do differ from model to model though (as do media players), so we suggest you consult the manual that came with your devices in order to get all of them successfully talking to each other.

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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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