These days, it seems like just one computer per person isn’t enough! We have our desktops at work, move around with laptops, and glance at our connected smartphones all the time, but there’s room for even more computers and connected devices around the house for specialized functions. The strongest case can be made for a home entertainment PC, sometimes called a Home Theater PC (HTPC), which needs to be a dedicated machine because it’s located in a family setting rather than a private one, and it uses your TV screen as its primary monitor, which becomes somewhat inconvenient for getting any other kind of work done. Rather than running wires around a house or lugging a laptop over to the TV each time you want to watch a movie, it makes a whole lot of sense for home audio and video enthusiasts to invest in a dedicated entertainment machine.
Home theaters range from simple DVD player + receiver + surround sound speaker setups to elaborate rooms with high-def projectors, custom soundproofing, and special-purpose furniture. The cost of keeping up with technology is rather prohibitive—anyone who’s been an enthusiast for around a decade will have felt the pinch of investing in Laser Disc, DVD, HD-DVD and now Blu-ray players and movie discs, not to mention the ever-growing number of cable and connector standards that keep proliferating. Today, a large number of components which need to be upgraded periodically can simply be replaced with a computer. The costs and hassles involved with each upgrade cycle are considerably reduced, since you can often achieve superb results just by swapping out one component. Moreover, you have immense flexibility and control over your media, and new formats require only a change of software.
Today, we have very demanding, non-passive requirements when it comes to media consumption. We don’t just want to watch TV, we want to record it and skip through ads. We don’t just want music; we want videos, artist information and related track recommendations. We’ve been exposed to high quality entertainment on demand with thousands of online sources to choose from, and we love it! Why settle for anything less? A home entertainment PC is the ultimate solution for families, and singles everywhere.
We’re the YouTube generation, finally riding bandwidth pipes fat enough to watch clips unbuffered and surf around from one link to another, devouring video as we go along. No longer do we have to depend on a TV channel’s programming schedule—we can download (legally or illegally) practically anything we like and watch it on demand. But we’re still doing it while sitting in front of our 13-inch laptops and 17-inch computer screens. Why not zap all that over to the TV?
Star TV: The website ‘www.startv.in’ features an option called ‘Star Player’ for those who are busy at home or at work and miss out on their regular shows. The website features almost all the recent episodes that have aired on the Star network. Just log on to the website and select the video from the fields marked Week, Month and All Time. The website is well designed and has categories depending on the genre of the videos—popular, drama, romance, comedy and reality. Alternatively, one can search for the desired program too. ‘Star Player +’ is an option which one can register for using a Facebook user ID or free account, and set up a personalized dashboard which allows you to mark any program. Once aired, you’ll see it added to your dashboard for you to view at your convenience. An email reminder can also be sent and you can see what other users on the website are watching.
International TV: Sadly, many international sites like the amazing Hulu and Vevo restrict their content to viewers in the United States. There are still a few free options such as MTV.com which has a huge archive of reality-based programming available for streaming. Justin.tv is another site with loads of great live streaming videos of concerts, nature, and pop culture topics. A single directory of all the billions of videos out there would be pretty impossible to compile, but the guys behind SurfTheChannel.com have tried to do the best job they can. Beware of links that claim to let you download these videos though!