New Router - What (else) can I do with it?
June 29, 2013 12:31 PM   Subscribe

So I've upgraded my router recently (old one was 10+ years old). I also have a nice Samsung Smart TV, and a Macbook Pro laptop. I use the router simply for wireless internet on the laptop, and some basic apps on the smartTV. What else can I do?

Most specifically, I want to access iTunes and play the music from my laptop's harddrive through my TV speakers. But maybe there's some other cool stuff I can do with my router? I need home networking 101.

I've been to other people's houses where stuff like this was done, but I can't quite wrap my head around it. Do I just 'see' my computer on the TV, and open iTunes and play?

Or maybe it's easier to just connect my computer directly to my TV with cables? I can put HDMI into my TV, but how does that go into my computer? Is there a HDMI/USB cable?

If I do that, does the TV then recognize the computer hooked to it? Then what?

We also have a Wii and PS3 hooked up to the smartTV, so I can use on of those if they are better for this than the Samsung interface (which is definitely clunky).

thank you in advance!
posted by hydra77 to Technology (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Your friends who were able to do this easily were probably using an Airport Express (which connects to a stereo via a regular old audio cable and then accepts audio from iTunes or other apps over wifi), or they had an Apple TV, which is a little box connected to the TV via HDMI that can stream audio/video wirelessly from a Mac as well as access things like Netflix over the internet.

Apple calls this "AirPlay."

If you wanted to connect your MacBook to your TV via an HDMI cable you would need a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.
posted by bcwinters at 12:42 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

A couple of questions: just how "smart" is your TV, and what model router do you have.

Ideally what you're looking for is some sort of HTPC ( home theater personal computer) with NAS (network-attached storage)

Most smart TVs are not quite smart enough to run HTPC software themselves, so they need an attached device such as Western Digital's WDTV or Apple TV to take care of things like organizing your music, movies, etc. and creating an interface for you to use.

A great (free) interface that runs on many platforms is XBMC (x-box media center, originally created for x/box) If you have a device which can run it as a dedicated "media server", things can really get fun.

Check your router for a USB port. You may be able to attach a large hard drive to it, with all of your media, which then becomes an "always on" file server. (This is the "network-attached storage" mentioned earlier)

With the proper software, any device on your network should be able to access those files, and (hopefully) play them.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:45 PM on June 29, 2013

Your smart tv may be able to access ps3 media server(it's not just for ps3's! Tons of things can use it) in which case basically any media file ever will be playable on your tv. Almost all smart tvs support "media center extender" which normally only works with pcs, but with the aforementioned app macs can tap into.

For router specific coolness we'd need to know the model of router, but that's just something you can generally do with nice high speed wifi and a smart tv...
posted by emptythought at 1:13 PM on June 29, 2013

Thanks. This is a great help so far - keep it coming! The router is a Netgear n600 dual band. I do like the idea of throwing a bunch of stuff on a hard drive and connecting that to my router(?), and accessing that for music? Can I just use the separate drive I use for backing up my computer?

The tv is a newer, 3d model, similar to this.
posted by hydra77 at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2013

I have that exact Router. It has two kinda interesting features. It has a guest account, so get that setup so you're friends can use the internet without access to your computers. Secondly, it has gigabit wired ports, so upgrade your cables/network cards. It's loads faster then 100baseT connections or Wifi.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2013

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