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Home Entertainment in 2014

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As some of you know I recently moved into a new condo.  Unlike my previous living arrangements, I will be living here alone… although my children will visit, they (and the dogs) will be living with their mother.

You all know me as a Windows guy, and that has not changed; however there are so many aspects to Microsoft Windows that there are few (if any) who know and use all of it.  Until the motherboard fried I did for a time use a Windows Media Center PC as my main TV controller, however after it died my wife (whom I married before the PC fried) suggested we just get a PVR from out Cable TV provider… and although the motherboard was replaced under warranty, I never did rebuild it as a Media Center.

Over the past couple of years I have heard a lot of talk about people ‘cutting the cable’… simply watching all of their TV over the Internet.  While I know that works fine for a lot of people, I am simply not there.  I like to sit on the couch with the remote control in my hand and channel-surf.  Call me old fashioned.  I also know that with my younger son (he is four and a half) it behoves me to have a TV with Disney Junior and whatever other channels he watches, lest his visits be very short and sweet.  So when I confirmed where I would be moving to, I called Bell Canada.  I know, they suck… just like all of the other providers.  Well my youngest loves the Fibe experience, so that is what I plan to get, along with a decent Internet package.

Here’s the problem… Bell Fibe TV is not available in all areas.  I am assured by a friend of mine on the inside that more often than not this is no longer a technical issue, they just roll out the marketing machine before they begin to offer the service.  So while I was able to get a decent Internet package (not spectacular, but I won’t be running servers anymore) for a good price, I was told that Fibe would not be available for a few more weeks… and in the meantime would I be interested in subscribing to their satellite service?  <No, what kind of idiot would make that deal knowing that the better service was coming in a few weeks?>

So the condo is taking shape; on Saturday my older son and I raided Ikea, and my living room is completely arranged.  On Sunday a buddy helped me move (read: disassemble, move, and then reassemble) my desk, and now my workstation is just about the way I like it.  And of course the technician from Bell Canada came Sunday morning, and after a little bit of confusion he got my Internet and Wi-Fi signal up.  But here’s the issue… while I have a TV, couch, and everything I need to watch TV in the living room… I have nothing to watch.  Doh!

Wait a minute… I remember when I bought the TV a friend of mine advised me to get one that supported DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance).  I even remember paying extra for a USB Wi-Fi adapter for the TV.  Maybe now was a good time to see if I could get that voodoo to work.  Remember… I’ve set up thousands of Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines before… but I have never set up a home group!

It took a little bit of figuring out – of course my computer was already connected to the network, but I had to configure my TV on the wireless as well, and that took some figuring out.  However once it was done, all I had to do was tell my Windows homegroup to recognize the device, and to share my movies, music, and pictures with it.  Voila, this evening I watched movies in the living room on a TV that wasn’t actually connected to anything!

What about Netflix & Xbox?

Yes, I do have a Netflix account, but so far I haven’t figured out how to watch it on the TV – of course, I can just take my table and plug the HDMI cable into the TV directly, but that is cheating.  In a month or two I will by an Xbox One and that will be my main Media Center (including Netflix, DVDs, and BlueRay), but for the time being I am okay being able to watch the movies I have stored on the computer.  However I do think I am going to have to figure out a good way to sort the movies… but that’s next week’s problem 🙂

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2 Comments

  1. Heike Ritter says:

    Regarding your comment “… I haven’t figured out how to watch it on the TV – of course, I can just take my table and plug the HDMI cable into the TV directly, but that is cheating. ” – have you see this one? http://blogs.windows.com/bloggingwindows/2014/09/23/announcing-the-microsoft-wireless-display-adapter/

  2. Sounds like you need WiDi (Wireless Video) !. It’s available on a few new PCs and laptops and the latest TVs. It’s entirely possible the WiFi adapter on your TV can be used as a receiver. If not, both transmitter and receiver boxes are available. ASUS makes some, I think. ~$70 List, as I recall. I bet Linksys, Belkin, and the like make them too. It’ll give you the same as hooking up the HDMI cable, but without the wire.

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