Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stream Video to Your Living-Room PC

Once an exercise in frustration, streaming now actually works.

Set-top boxes were supposed to revolutionize the way we watched video from our computers. That hasn't quite happened and that's an understatement. Early products were difficult to use; they often dropped connections between devices and displayed poor-quality video. They just weren't worth the trouble.

But things are beginning to change. Sophisticated media-center functionality comes with every new Windows Vista PC. Faster, more interference-resistant wireless routers (supporting the 802.11n draft standard) can blast hefty media files back and forth across your network without stuttering. And while the Apple TV hasn't taken the market by storm, it has introduced the idea of streaming video to the average person and it's a good choice if you're a frequent iTunes Store customer.

Now movie-rental sites are getting into the act. Companies such as Netflix and Vongo offer monthly subscription services that send full-length movies over the Internet directly to your living-room PC. Compared with fetching, renting, and returning DVDs, watching downloadable movies is a no-muss, no-fuss affair. It's also price-competitive with traditional rentals; the only downside is the limited selection. Because of the complex agreements that dictate what can be shown where, online sites have barely a fraction perhaps 1,000 to 1,200 titles of the content available for rental on physical DVDs (which exceeds 70,000 titles at Netflix alone).

Note that streaming is not the same as copying: You're not moving actual files around. Instead, you're watching video streamed in real time from another location-the Internet or another PC in your home are two common sources. With streaming video, you can decide right on the spot what you want to see prior to file-management prep work. In this article, I'll show you three ways to stream media from your Windows PC to your comfy living-room entertainment setup without unnecessary technical headaches.

Vongo's downloadable movie service costs $9.99 per month, but there is a free 14-day trial. This way you can check out the available titles and make sure the Vongo service works with your setup before committing your hard-earned cash. Here's how to get started with the trial:

1. Head to www.vongo.com and click the download button on the home page.

2. Enter your e-mail address and save Vongosetup.exe to your desktop.

3. When the download completes, double-click the icon and follow the prompts to install the Vongo client and create an account. You'll need to enter your credit card info for the trial.

4. Double-click the Vongo desktop icon to launch the service. Browse the available movies, choose one, and begin watching.

There's also a pay-per-view option, but the subscription offers a better value if you're going to watch more than one or two movies per month. You can even archive copies of movies for later viewing.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Who links to me?