June 14, 2010 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to watch computer videos, like those on the PBS website, on our HDTV?

We're looking for a way to view PC video, such as PBS programs from their website, on our widescreen HDTV. Would this scaler work? If so, would we need some kind of extension cords (tv is in another room, probably 18-20 feet away from computer in den)?

"TV One-Taskā„¢ PC/HDTV Converters are ultra compact, high performance products designed to meet the most demanding requirements for signal conversion. The input resolution is automatically detected and can either be RGBHV, YPbPr or YCbCr format. In addition to PC to PC and PC to HDTV conversions, the unit can take a 480i Component Video signal, from a DVD Player for example, and convert it to PC or HDTV resolutions. The output resolution and refresh rate is selected via push buttons and OSD Menu. Model 1T-PC1280HD provides conversion to and from a wide variety of PC and HDTV signals, while model 1T-PC1280PC provides conversion to and from PC signals only. The integral processor provides control over many signal parameters, such as: Contrast, Brightness, Color Saturation, R-G-B Levels and H-V Positioning. Both models are 12VDC powered and a small In-Plug Power Adapter is included. For best performance, use high-grade output cables such as our professional Z-Plus type.

# Convert PC-to-PC or PC-to-HDTV
# Convert HDTV-to-HDTV or HDTV-to-PC
# Convert 480i YCbCr to PC or HDTV
# PC Resolutions up to 1280x1024
# Most HDTV Resolutions
# Locking DC Power Connector for Security "

I'm not familiar with the terms like "YPbPr or YCbCr".
Thanks, knowledgeable hive mind people!
posted by ragtimepiano to Technology (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of computer do you have?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:02 PM on June 14, 2010

It depends on what kind of display output connectors your computer has built in. Most newer computers have DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort outputs. Your HDTV almost certainly has HDMI input. You can buy DVI-to-HDMI or DisplayPort-to-HDMI cables dirt cheap from Monoprice. I have a ~25-foot DVI-to-HDMI cable which connects my iMac to my HDTV and works wonderfully. Cost me something like $15 a couple of years ago if I remember correctly. You may have to run a separate line for audio, as some of these connectors don't output audio along with the video. But that's also cheap and easy with cables from Monoprice.
posted by Nothlit at 3:04 PM on June 14, 2010

What model HDTV do you have?
posted by cowmix at 3:05 PM on June 14, 2010

YPbPr and YCbCr are equivalents, one analog the other digital. In short: high end video signals.

How big is your TV? I've hooked up my home theater PC directly to my 47" HDTV. My parents-in-law have their HTPC connected to their 52" HDTV w/o upscaler. Maybe I don't know enough to notice the failings or shortcomings. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable in this field will join in.

On preview: my HDTV is pretty new, as is the parents-in-law, and our systems were built to be HTPCs, so it was a snap to hook it all up.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:07 PM on June 14, 2010

It might be easier to get a small PC to put in the room with your TV then get long extension cables.
posted by delmoi at 3:14 PM on June 14, 2010

About half of our cable-less Entertainment Media Empire runs on a Mac Mini running Boxee and EyeTV. We still need a much better externally-mounted television antenna because EyeTV gets Fox and the 20-channels (Univision and local access), but if we put something outside we'd be able to get PBSHD. You can do approximately the same with a pretty standard HTPC rig, but I've really been a fan of the Mini.

(The other half of the Empire is powered by the Xbox. I'm pretty sure you can't really happily dump cable without one.)
posted by Lyn Never at 3:28 PM on June 14, 2010

TV is 54" Hitachi.
posted by ragtimepiano at 3:36 PM on June 14, 2010

Again, I don't know much about upscaling components, but if you're trying to stretch compressed video from PBS, there is only so much information to stretch. From what I understand, it's either big and fuzzy or big and pixelated (blocky).

What kind of computer do you have, and what kind out of inputs/outputs are on the computer and the TV? For example, here is a pretty extensive HDTV input panel (source).

If you have a newer computer, it might natively support HDMI connections (source), so it's as easy as buying a long cable. If it's older, you might only have the multi-pin PC monitor cable type connection, and you can get cables that reach that far, but you really need to be careful when walking around them. Unlike most other cable options, you should screw in the SVGA cables, to ensure a solid connection at both ends. You could plug it in so the cable might give before the TV or computer does, but the connection might come loose.

The other options would be to 1) get a new video card, which you could do for significantly less than the $250+ that TV One PC/HD Video Scalers go for, or 2) get some sort of scaler. The one you're considering looks to only support multi-pin monitor-type hookups on both ends, and it sounds like they're not included ("For best performance, use high-grade output cables.")
posted by filthy light thief at 4:38 PM on June 14, 2010

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