For the longest time I’ve had a PC connected to my television via a VGA to HDMI converter box. It had it’s glitches, but it worked. Then it died, and why would I spend another $100 on one when the tech is available now for it to be integrated into the computer.
Well, after so long of not having it, I grew tired of cable. I canceled my cable, and purchased a new media PC, one that is worthy of my time and speaks of everything I stand for. I purchased an Asus EEEPC Desktop system, which is in most people’s eyes a mini-pc with anemic processor. Just for tech clarification, it has an Intel Atom N270 1.6Ghz processor in it, 1Gb ram, a 7200rpm SATA-II 2.5″ 160Gb drive, 10/100/1000 ethernet, and an 802.11b/g/n wireless adapter build in, along with HDMI video out. The keyboard and mouse are both wireless. I personally use the 802.11g wireless networking for the ease of placement.
The machine is a wonderful size, approximately 7 inches by 8 inches, & about 1 inch thick. For those that know the impact our electric use has, the power it draws is 20 watts… less than some lights. They make them in black & white, choose your poison. I chose black, and next to my Magnavox flatscreen it blends beautifully!
It’s by far not for those that are videophiles and require everything to be perfect black with no distortion on a 100″ 1080p 240 Hz LCD flatscreen. It’s for those of us that don’t want to spend that extra 1,000-2,000, and want something that will display like our computers do. That being said, the only downside I’ve seen is that some websites use proprietary display systems that either use Adobe Flash with high processing, or are just choppy from the beginning no matter what you are running it on, simply to save themselves bandwidth. I’ve been using it now for a couple of days and I’ve used tvover.net (a good directory of places to watch shows), myeasytv.com, hulu.com (uses Adobe Flash, and can be very minorly distorted depending on bandwidth used), pbs.org (same as hulu in playstyle), comedycentral.com (plays without any problems for me), cartoonnetwork.com, and various other websites that can be found by simply going to google and typing in “television over the internet”.
Some things to do before anything else if you use this… when you get it booted up, remove any applications you won’t be using (the trial virus detection is one). Reduce processor overhead by changing the Windows special effects. You can do this by going into the control panel from the Start button then Settings. Inside of the control panel, if you select classic on the left you will see “System”. Doubleclick on that and in Advanced you will see a section called “Performance”, which you can unselect anything you don’t want.
The next thing I recommend is tuning the video display to fit your monitor. You can do this by rightclicking on your desktop and selecting “Properties”. Select the “Settings” tab, and raise and lower your screen resolution as you wish. You can hit ‘Apply” on the lower right of that window to test, and a pop-up will appear between each change. You can select yes or no on this pop-up, and it times out after a countdown to revert back if you select nothing. (Makes for a great fallback)
The next thing you will need to do is turn off the screensaver to make sure your screen does not blank while watching tv. This can be done the same way.. right click on the desktop, select “properties”, click on the “screen saver” tab, and pull down the screen saver dropdown to select “(none)”. While you are in there, select the “power” button at the bottom, and alter the power settings to your desired use. I have mine set to turning off the monitor after 2 hours, and turning off the harddisk after 2 hours. For system standby, I have it set to 2 hours as well, with hibernate set to 3 hours. (since it’s a desktop, the battery settings are worthless)
As with anything computer related, this is not the only tool for media PC use on your TV. However, for <$300 there are not many other options that can compare that are anywhere near the same size and abilities together. For a little more than $200 more, a different Asus is available with 250gb harddrive, 2Gb ram and a new dual-core N330 1.6 Ghz Atom processor along with an NVidia ION graphics adapter. It’s a bit of an overkill for a Media PC in my opinion, but with it’s added features it can replace a DVD player as well.
For those that wish to look at the one I own, on http://www.tigerdirect.com within the search box the model EB1006-B-111-5002 can be pasted. For those that wish to look at the more expensive model spoke about towards the end, the model EB1501-B0167 can be searched.
In conclusion,this device has a footprint that greatly saves space and is able to be hidden behind the television along with being a terrific enhancement to the television viewing experience.