Building a Digital Home Entertainment Network: Multimedia in Every Room

Overview

Play music in the living room from your PC in your home office. Connect to the Internet on your laptop in any room in your house. It can be done and all by you! Building a Home Entertainment Network: Multimedia in Every Room will show you how to take an Internet connection, digital audio and video equipment, and a PC, and then integrate them into a home entertainment powerhouse. Building a Home Entertainment Network will show you how to exploit your computer and other devices. You'll even learn tips on how to ...

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Overview

Play music in the living room from your PC in your home office. Connect to the Internet on your laptop in any room in your house. It can be done and all by you! Building a Home Entertainment Network: Multimedia in Every Room will show you how to take an Internet connection, digital audio and video equipment, and a PC, and then integrate them into a home entertainment powerhouse. Building a Home Entertainment Network will show you how to exploit your computer and other devices. You'll even learn tips on how to plan for your home entertainment network and how to purchase the best equipment. You have all the pieces, now just learn how to put them all together!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789733184
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 6/3/2005
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Ulick is a technologist and author who starting writing about PCs for PC Magazine in the 1970's. He created the first online digital photo service for America Online, worked as Executive Director of Business Development for Tribune Company Entertainment Products and created Zap2it, one of the first interactive TV services. He wrote one of the first books on digital publishing, and most recently wrote The PC Magazine Guide to Windows XP Media Center PCs (Wiley, 2004).

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Read an Excerpt

IntroductionIntroductionPower Your Home with an Entertainment Network

One of the most exciting uses for a personal computer is as an entertainment device. Most PCs being sold today are fully capable of being the hub of a whole-house entertainment center. Current home PCs can

  • Play and record DVDs
  • Play and record music
  • Play and record TV, including HDTV
  • Play and edit home videos
  • Play music and videos from the Internet
  • Play and record audio CDs and MP3s
  • Play games both locally and online

In fact, properly configured, your PC is one of the most powerful entertainment devices you can find at any price. Even better, when you examine the cost of using your PC as your home entertainment center, you realize it is the lowest cost solution—after considering how much it would cost to buy dedicated consumer electronic devices that do all of the preceding tasks.

As you will discover in this book, you can create a home network of your PCs, TVs, stereos, and other entertainment devices. Once put together in a home entertainment network, those devices will become your new home entertainment center. It will be powered by your PC, and it will take full advantage of content from the Internet. With a home entertainment network in place, you can do the following:

  • Use one PC to act as your entertainment "server" that will provide media content to other PCs and network devices throughout your home
  • Share one Internet connection with other PCs and devices on the home network
  • Bring all your entertainment devices, such as TVs and home stereos, together as a part of the home network

This book is about how you bring allthose devices together to work with each other. If you are like most people, you probably have never thought of your TVs or stereos as devices that can work with your PC—but they can. In fact, you will learn that for a very low price, such devices become "extensions" of your PC and allow you full access to all the media content on your PC—and broadcast, cable, or satellite services, too.Building with What You Have

One of the nicest things about building a home entertainment network using your PC as the "hub" is that you can put all the devices you currently own and use to work in the network.

If you have a fairly current PC (such as a Pentium PC with Windows XP), some TVs, and home stereos, you already have most of the key devices you need. A home entertainment network most often consists of the following:

  • Hub PC—One main PC acts as the entertainment "server" and hosts media files for other devices to share.
  • Additional PCs—If you have a laptop or other PCs in your home, they can all be part of the entertainment network.
  • TVs—Your existing TVs find new life as "clients" in your entertainment network, getting content from the main hub PC.
  • Stereos—Your stereos can play music from files on the hub PC, and they can also provide quality audio for TV viewing.
  • Portable devices—If you have a Pocket PC or other portable media player device, you can use it to access content from your home entertainment network.

All the preceding devices can be put to work in your home entertainment network. You need to add a few items to allow this equipment to become a part of a networked home.Adding Networking Hardware to Your Current Devices

PC-based home networking not only allows you to network PCs, but it also allows you to add TVs and stereos.

Your PCs need a network interface card (NIC) to become a networked device. Most current PCs come equipped with an Ethernet port, but if yours doesn't, it's easy to add one. Once PCs are equipped with Ethernet ports, you can connect them wired or wirelessly to a home entertainment network.

Just as a PC needs a network card, TVs and stereos need a way to become a part of the network. Unlike PCs, which are, of course, computers, TVs and stereos need network adapters that add a small amount of computing power. Called media extenders, the network devices that connect to your TV or stereo are small computers that pull audio or video from the hub PC and play them on TVs or stereos they are connected to.

As you will learn in this book, media extenders are an important part of a home entertainment network. Where you traditionally need a PC for playing media, you now can use a media extender. The device is ideal for the purpose, and it costs far less than a PC.Putting Them All Together

When you take your PCs, add a home network, and add media extenders to your TVs and stereos, you have something totally new: a home entertainment network.

It brings the amazing media creation, storage, and media playing abilities of your PC to every TV, stereo, or portable media playing device in your home. You can access all the media content on your PC anywhere you like, using the devices that are easiest to use: TVs, remote controls, stereos, and even radios.

By bringing your entertainment devices together with your PC, you can also get at media content from the Internet on devices that have never been able to play such media before. Your home stereo can play streaming audio from Internet radio stations. You can watch videos of all types from the Internet on your TV. This setup gives your TV and stereo access to more content than any broadcast, cable, or satellite service can offer.

This book is your guide on how to put your computer devices and your entertainment devices together into a home entertainment network.Who This Book Is for

You will definitely fit into one of the following categories:

  • Computer users of any skill level—This book is for anyone who is comfortable using a computer. You do not need to be technically inclined. Home PC networking has become so easy that with a little patience, you can network your PCs and entertainment devices together.
  • People who use their PCs for media—The book is also for people who love TV and music and love viewing their home videos and pictures on their PCs. You can take that experience and put it where it belongs: on your TVs and stereos.
  • People who love TV and music—If you love TV viewing, this book is also going to show you how you can use your PC to record TV programs digitally and can change the way you think about watching TV. With TV shows recorded on your hub PC, you can watch them when it's best for you—and skip past commercials, if you choose.

It's also okay if you are a highly experienced, know-how-to-do-it computer user! A lot of the ideas in this book are about how to change the way you use media—not just how to hook up devices and configure your PCs.What You Need to Use This Book

Users of this book should have at least one PC, a high-speed connection to the Internet (although dial-up will do if a high-speed connection is not available), and a TV source such as cable, satellite, or antenna near the computer. You also need some basic home networking equipment such as a wired or wireless router and network adapters for devices on the network. You can use your existing TVs and audio devices.Icons Used in This Book

The following is a brief description of the icons used to highlight certain types of material in this book.

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Tip - Each tip gives you additional information that adds to the topic under discussion. The information typically springs from something in the immediately preceding paragraph and provides a succinct suggestion that you might want to follow up while working through the chapter. In effect, a tip says, "You should try this as well."

***
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Note - A note is just that: a note. Usually, a note provides information related to the topic under discussion but not essential to it for the purposes of working through that topic. A note says, essentially, "Here's an interesting point about the topic or something you might want to keep in mind."

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The Cross-Reference icon refers you to other chapters that cover a point just mentioned in the text in more detail. You'll also sometimes find cross-references in parentheses.

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How This Book Is Organized

I've divided this book into four main sections. After introducing you to the basic concept of a home entertainment network in this Introduction, it starts with planning your home entertainment network and then looks at installing it, managing it, and how to get the most out of it. The following sections describe briefly how the book is organized.Part I: Planning Your Home Entertainment Network

This part will help you create a strategy and plan for your home entertainment network. It will identify all the places you can add PCs and entertainment devices in your home and identify the networking hardware and media extender devices you need to create your home entertainment network.Part II: Installing the Network

This section will take you through the steps required to install all the hardware and devices for your home entertainment network. It will also guide you through creating the network using Windows XP and its networking tools and wizards.Part III: Managing a Home Entertainment Network

With all your PCs and entertainment devices connected in your home entertainment network, this section will show you how to manage and administer it. It will cover how to share media files, record content, and establish viewing rights.Part IV: Going Beyond the "PC" Network

Although a home entertainment network is built on PC-based equipment, you will be able to stop thinking of it as a computer-based activity. This section talks about how to leave the "PC" out of the home entertainment network and focus on media creation and playing.Part V: Appendixes

A list of networking vendors plus third-party hardware and software that you can use in a home entertainment network appears in the appendixes.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

1 Planning the right home entertainment network for your home 9
2 Configuring your PC as an entertainment server 25
3 Using PCs and TVs as clients in your network 39
4 Getting the right networking gear 51
5 Adding a network router to your main PC 71
6 Securing your PCs 91
7 Securing your home entertainment network 103
8 Adding additional PCs to the router 117
9 Adding TV and media extenders to the network 137
10 Limitations of media extenders on wired and wireless networks 157
11 Sharing files and adding users 177
12 Creating a media server strategy 195
13 Adding media content from the Internet 209
14 Working with portable entertainment devices 225
15 TV sources : cable, satellite, antennas, and DVDs 245
16 Using game consoles, DVD players, and digital video recorders 261
17 Programming your own media network 273
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