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Integrating the Internet with Your Home Theater

16 Sep Posted by in Blog | Comments
Integrating the Internet with Your Home Theater

Home Theater DesignBecause there is so much audio and video content available over the Internet today, there is currently a big push to integrate the Internet with the home theater experience. However, there are both benefits and drawbacks to integrating your home theater system with the Internet and your home network.

Benefits of a Home Theater/Home Network System:

1.  Access to a variety of audio, video and photo content that is either stored on a PC or streamed directly from the Internet to a network-enabled blu-ray disc player, network media player, home theater receiver, or TV for real-time listening or viewing on your home theater system.

2.  Access to any content at your own convenience.  Often, audio and video content can be streamed “on demand”.  Depending on your preferences, there are also services available that offer downloads that can be temporarily stored and viewed or listened to when you have the time.

Drawbacks of Using a Home Theater/Home Network Setup:

1.  One of the biggest drawbacks is that the audio and video quality is not quite as good as physical media sources, such as CDs and Blu-ray Discs.  Audio and video files, for example, are often highly compressed and video files often look pixelated on a big screen TV.  In addition, a high definition video stream typically does not look very good, especially when compared to the same high definition content taken directly from a Blu-ray Disc or transmitted via cable or satellite HDTV transmissions.

2.  In order to hook-up your network to your home theater, a high-speed broadband connection is necessary.  Video files need a lot of bandwidth due to the size of the files.  If you download content to view at a later date, rather than streaming the content for instant viewing, download times for high definition movies can take a long time; immediate viewing may not be possible.  It is also important to remember that the speed of accessing content is also tied into how many people are accessing it at the same time.  Sometimes, just as on a PC, websites may hit their download or streaming capacity during certain peak time periods.

3.  Unfortunately, not all internet content is free. Be prepared to pay for some content, such as Netflix, Blockbuster or Amazon Instant video.  Some audio streaming services, such as Rhapsody, charge a fee as well.

4.  The available internet content services depend on what brand/model devices you own (TV, Media Player/Streamer, Blu-ray Disc player, Home Theater Receiver). Individual manufacturers have contracts with different internet content providers.

For most folks, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to integrating your home theater system with the Internet.  Adding Internet access to your home theater opens the door to so much more.  Who wouldn’t want to view or listen to the variety of Internet content—from photos to videos to MP3s—via a complete home theater system?

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