Get all your devices kvt connected to enjoy video,
music, photos and more
New technologies kill off older ones. It's
the nature of the evolutionary beast. Greater convenience, faster running,
improved quality and more features enable newer technology to kill off its
older, dawdling, dribbling-in-its-soup, if still loved, predecessors. Video
tapes were usurped by DVDs, and if things followed Sony's master plan you'd be
sat there reading how Blu-ray saw off HD-DVD and DVDs, were it not for the
internet and high-speed broadband.
Broadband has changed how we all consume
and enjoy digital entertainment. It's no longer just enough to read web pages.
We expect to stream live TV, films and music direct to all of our device We
expect to be able to consume and enjoy what we want, where we want, when we
If you pick the right kit, all of this and
more is possible. Take the humble TV, an internet-connected television -
whether that’s built in or via an external set-top box, laptop or home theatre
PC - it offers you something infinitely more than a standard HD Freeview
digital set could ever dream of. It transforms that dumb goggle box into an
all-entertaining, all-knowing, interactive Google box. All of this and more is
yours, extending to all your 'smart' gadgets, but if you don't know where to
start then let us guide you through the maze.
The internet that's out there in the big,
scary world is, simply put, a worldwide network. If you pay a nice company
money, it'll bring broadband internet to your home via the phone line or a
Fibre optic cable and a suitable networking box. You then have your own network
in your home. It could be just a series of Ethernet cables, but these days most
supplied broadband boxes also offer wireless networking (802.11b/g/n).
Networks are like Lego sets - you can build
them up by plugging in new parts, and any PCs, laptops or network-aware devices
like Android or iOS phones and tablets can all connect, talk and, with the
right tweaks, share media. So just as you can plug in a wireless adaptor,
you're able to plug in a host of other devices, from network-attached storage
to power-socket network adaptors, and to all of this you can connect your
Wi-Fi-capable devices, letting you enjoy your stored and streamed media.
of recent HDTVs and Blu-ray players offer embedded internet services
In the beginning
Before we worry about connecting and
streaming to specific devices, turn a thought to where your content is being
stored, how it's connected to the network and where you want to view it. Often
the answer to the first question will be your main work desktop or laptop.
This is hardly ideal - if it's a gaming
rig, it's going to be sat sucking 300 watts and more, just so you can show off
a few shots of you wearing red trunks at Rhyl Sun Centre to your granny.
Perhaps that's being a little cruel - with monitors switched off, modern
systems can power down to a great extent, and those red trunks are great- but
for security, reliability and space reasons, opting for something dedicated is
One option is to pick up a NAS, or network
attached storage device. It's in effect a cut-down Linux box with hard drives
stuffed in it. At the bare minimum, a single-drive unit sits attached to your
router via an Ethernet cable as a networked shared drive. All of these boxes
provide UPnP media streaming and usually limited internet access. Higher-end
models offer two or more drives and include RAID modes for invisible data back
up. Noise levels tend to be minimal and power draw is around 6-60 watts.
Another storage option is to use an old
laptop. With power usage under 20 watts, a full Windows client included and the
ability to tuck it away, the main disadvantage could be disk space. That's
where, for want of another name, a server comes in. Any old PC box on your
network will do, but choosing a low-power processor and a bunch of attached
hard drives does the job. A Shuttle-style box is a good starting point, or HP
does a line of fully equipped ProLiant systems that are good value. These
solutions will draw around 60 watts.
You've heard of it, but what does it mean?
The plug that connects modern HDTV and video
equipment. It comes in a standard and mini forms. Newer PCs and their
graphics cards, laptops and tablets tend to come with HDMI built in.
A PC-specific connection that happens to be
compatible with HDMI. It's possible to convert one to the other using a
simple and cheap adaptor.
An older analog PC video connector called both VGA
and D-Sub, this isn't compatible with HDMI, but many HDTVs do provide VGA
The term HD tends to refer to two specific
resolutions. The lower standard is 1,280 x 720, aka 720p, and the higher is
1,920 x 1,080 or 1080p. There are, however, many intermediate resolutions
that will work on HD displays, like 1,366 x 768.
Local area network, the shorthand used to describe
the wired network in your home. The wireless element is usually referred to
as the WLAN.
The term used to describe wired network cables,
sockets and plugs. The standard speed is called 100BaseT, and provides around
12MB/s of bandwidth. A more recent specification is called Gigabit, which
increases this speed tenfold to 120MB/s - faster than most standard hard
The code given to the latest generation of wireless
networks. Previous versions were called 802.11b and 802.11g. Newer versions
are backwards compatible and offer users higher speeds, longer ranges and
better security with compatible devices.