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Using Media Extenders and Getting Your Digital Media On Your TV

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J. Peter Bruzzese looks at what is required to set up Media Extenders to enable you to access all the media on your PC on different TVs in your house.
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We'll, you've decided to go for it. The ultimate home entertainment system. Since you want to access all the media on your PC on different TVs in your house, there's only one way to go: Media Extenders. Let's first take a look at what is required for this set up.

You will need the following hardware and software before you get started:

  • A local network
  • A Windows Vista or Window 7 computer running Windows Media Center
  • A Media Center Extender

Network

Most of us by now are using some form of wireless or wired network (or both). If you haven't made this move yet, there are plenty of network routers available on the market for less than $100. If you opt for wireless, a dual band 802.11 G or N router is strongly recommended. One benefit of purchasing a wireless router is that it can also double as a wired router. If you have difficulty with fewer connectivity points and the signal is not strong enough to transmit your HD programming, you could alternatively plug your computer directly into the ports on the back of your router. If you choose this option, make sure you have network cables that are long enough.

Windows Media Center

The PC that you choose to share your media from must be running a version of Windows Media Center (Figure 1). This can be run from Windows Vista or Windows 7 editions that include Windows Media Center. While it is possible to run Windows XP Media Center Edition, newer media center extender hardware is not compatible with Windows XP Media Center Edition.

A Media Center Extender

A Media Center extender is a hardware device that receives networking data from a PC to display on your TV. Common manufacturers are Linksys and D-Link. You can have multiple Media Center extenders connected to your PC. Windows Media Center Edition supports up to five additional extenders. Each extender can then share its own set of media from the PC. This is because each Media Center extender has its own unique user account.

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