It Doesn’t Take Much, Just Use What You’ve Got
By now, many of us have at least one notebook. But while the luckier (or wealthier) among us have sweet widescreen units with subwoofers and cutting-edge graphics, even a four-year-old clunker can provide a decent media experience in your living room. Need proof? We’ll show you how it is done.
Check out our FIC MB02, a nearly five-year-old Centrino unit with only the most basic audio and video capabilities, a single-core Pentium M processor, and a 60 GB hard drive. With five years of data, applications, and plenty of media piled in, 60 GB gets to feel pretty small, which is why we brought in a 320 GB USB-based external hard drive stocked with lots of extra photos, video, and audio.
Every PC-to-TV solution has its pros and cons. The good news with a notebook is that you probably own the product already, which makes it cheaper than any other solution. Moreover, PC software gives you more flexibility than any other option. No matter how you want to play your media, you probably already have a few applications you’ve grown to love.
On the downside, notebooks are not necessarily the best way to shuttle music and pictures to your big screen if you want the process to be seamless and attractive. You’ll likely be plugging and unplugging it regularly for use elsewhere, leaving a big gap in your home theater shelves. However, a docking station can help. You may even want to invest in dedicated furniture for your home-theater laptop, which can add cost to this scenario.
Notebook placement in your home theater can be awkward and unsightly without just the right furniture and cable lengths may need to be much longer than usual. Not least of all there is the question of whether you’re going to want a wireless keyboard and mouse so that you can control the laptop from across the room…and where to put those peripherals when you’re done.
For the task of moving media to your TV, a laptop is unnecessarily complex–honestly, it’s overkill from a hardware standpoint –but it gives you many more options when it comes to managing your media collections and how you want to experience them.