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How to stream video at home without breaking the bank

17 August, 2014 8:45 AM
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Ditch those wires and start putting your home wireless network to good use by streaming your content directly over the airwaves to your HDTV. All this can be easily achieved by spending a bit of money or just cleverly using your existing technology.

Google's delightful little gadget, the Chromecast, is the best option for converting your TV into a full-fledged smart TV, or better. Super easy to set up, the Chromecast keeps things simple. It syncs with your Wi-Fi perfectly, and you can pretty much play YouTube videos all day without any lag from any compatible device in your home. The best part is, you can multitask on your devices while the video is playing.

Support is growing for the Chromecast, and it has Google Play Movies, Dailymotion etc. in terms of services and a host of apps that allow desktop mirroring and movie and video streaming.

Though for playing your own content, Plex is the best way to go, as it is small, installs on your PC, catalogues your content, and plays perfectly off your iOS and Android devices, and your PC.

If Chromecast is not your thing, and you want something that's familiar, then you can go for the numerous Chinese Android Devices that are popping up on sites like eBay. All of these are full fledged smart Android devices with processors of their own, able to connect your HDTV to Wi-Fi, and come with impressive features.

The upside is you can surf the web and enjoy a wealth of apps and games available on the Google Play store on your TV and play and stream a vast variety of movie formats. The downside is, well, you're buying this at your own risk.

Yes, most of these are made with processors used in mid-range and budget smartphones. Still, when it comes to Chinese products, these mostlt check all the tick boxes, though you can find brands like Amkette and Asus in the mix if you can expand your budget a bit more.

Turn your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 into streaming monsters with a nifty little open source application called PS3 Media Server, which works pretty well on a host of devices. You just download it on a PC that's connected to your network, point it to your media and it does the rest. You can easily access your content through the PS3's XMB menu. For those with big dual-band wireless modems, the PS3 Media Server can stream full 5.1 Dolby Digital signals across your wireless network, in addition to retina searing 1080p video.

This little wonder box from Apple is quite fantastic, and unlike Google's Chromecast, supports dual-band modem's 5Ghz signals for blazing fast streaming. Though the Apple TV costs a whopping Rs 7,999 and comes with Apple's closed system as a baggage, it is perfect if you want to rent or buy movies and media off the iTunes Store.

For personal content it only plays MP4 but there are workarounds. All you have to do is install the Plex server on your PC, point it to your media. Use the Rs 300 Plex app on your iPad or iPhone to beam your content over AirPlay.

WD TV Live and Asus O! Play are among the best of the Hard Disk based streamers. These can stream and play content you save on it their hard drive.

These players cost quite a bit, but they are also available in streamer only flavors. While these work generally well, it's the support for new movie types in the ever-growing codecs space that needs to be considered before buying one. With names like AC3, MKV and other odd formats floating around, file format support in the future is a big question mark. Western Digital and Asus have been spot on.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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