Technical advice for watching downloaded shows on my TV?
June 26, 2006 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Technical advice for watching downloaded shows on my TV?

Advice for not having cable?

I'm moving at the end of the month. I thought I'd go w/o cable for the rest of the summer b/c I figure it would force/allow me to do other things I enjoy more. However, I don't plan on cutting it out entirely. I'm pretty addicted to Entourage and would like to download it and maybe the Daily Show occasionally.

I have the Samsung LT-P326W. It's high definition ready. (so it works with the HDTV tuner like you find in a digital cable box but not without one)

Link to TV technical specs

I know how to use bit torrents to get the files I want. Is the monitor cable the best way to connect by computer to my TV? (PC input: analog RGB (D-Sub 15-pin))

And I assume there is no way to watch a show I download in HD on my TV in high definition w/o the HDTV Tuners and antenna which I don't plan on buying, correct?
posted by hokie409 to Technology (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
DVI is best if your computer has it.

If your downloads are in HD then there's no reason why you can't watch them in HD (or thereabouts) on your TV. Set your computer to the 1280x768 of the TV and it should work fine. Why don't you think it will work?
posted by cillit bang at 7:44 PM on June 26, 2006

Best answer: Buy an old xbox and mod it. Install xbox media center (xbmc). Download shows to your networked PC, tell xbmc where your PC is on the network, and stream the video to your TV from your computer.

It's not as hard as it sounds, you could probably do it all in a few hours of setup and tweaking.
posted by mathowie at 7:47 PM on June 26, 2006

I haven't had cable in years thanks to the 'net. It can be done, easily, if your carrier doesn't mind you downloading 24/7. That's a big IF.

Is the monitor cable the best way to connect by computer to my TV? (PC input: analog RGB (D-Sub 15-pin))

First of all, the 15-pin D-sub (VGA) connector on your PC is the output, not the input. You'll need to get a VGA to DVI converter cable and it can hook right up to your TV. It appears (at least according to the specs on Crutchfield's site) that the TV will automatically handle everything else for you. I'm skeptical of that claim, but it's certainly possible. Looks like you'll be running at 1200x768 resolution.

And I assume there is no way to watch a show I download in HD on my TV in high definition w/o the HDTV Tuners and antenna which I don't plan on buying, correct?

Incorrect. But you'll need the additional DVI-output daughterboard.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:55 PM on June 26, 2006

I can second matt on the modded XBox. It is f*cking fantastic. I've run a modded 'box as my downloaded-content-watcher of choice for about 2 years on a standard 29" TV and recently upgraded to a Panasonic HD LCD TV.

I can categorically state that the quality of the content off the XBox is almost as good as a DVD (depending on the encoding).

Having said that, yes a DVI cable would do the trick nicely. The downside is having a big(?) loud(?) computer next to your TV.
posted by pivotal at 8:25 PM on June 26, 2006

Any recommendations on where to buy an old xbox? Ebay? I'm using the svideo and audio out on a Dell Inspiron. A bit of a pain switching plugs before watching.
posted by Manjusri at 9:00 PM on June 26, 2006

Best answer:
Zensonic's Z500
Buffalo's Linktheater
IOData's Linkplayer
Momitsu 880
Chipped XBox.

Totally the best options, if none of those are feasable, then consider putting in a card in PC.
posted by lundman at 10:08 PM on June 26, 2006

GameStop carries 2nd-hand xboxs for about $100.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:26 AM on June 27, 2006

Best answer: Civil_Disobedient: Read the specs more carefully. There's a VGA PC input as well. Also, why do you think a TV tuner is needed to watch downloaded shows?
posted by cillit bang at 6:48 AM on June 27, 2006

One thing to note about XBOXes and streaming: Have a backup plan in case you can't find a non-H.264 encoded version of a show. While the newer versions of XBMC have H.264 support, the CPU in the XBOX is simply not powerful enough to handle a full resolution video in this format (I know, I've tried...) Oh, and while the XBOX supports HDTV, again, the CPU is a bit too weak to handle MPEG-4 HDTV. You might squeeze MPEG-2 through it, though. Maybe...

Just something to consider... XBMC rocks, BTW. :-)

Oh, and you can always try putting up a TV antenna. You should get at least a few stations. If you set up something like a MythTV box (or some other solution, although MythTV is nicest since you can watch it on your XBOX directly) you will find that you can record a LOT of stuff just from your local stations that is worth watching. For free. Some of them in HDTV, too!
posted by shepd at 7:17 AM on June 27, 2006

I nth the modded xbox. If your'e not a competent solderer, I'd go to xbox-scene and try to find someone in your area that mods xboxs. Which is what I did and the guy was nice enough to install all the goodies and walk me through how to use and upgrade it.

With some tweaking of your bt software, you can automatically download only the HD episodes immediately when there available and once completely downloaded you can put the show in the folder that your xbox streams from.
posted by premortem at 9:30 AM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I should have mentioned that I have a (3 month old) HP laptop, not a desktop so I don't plan on adding any additional cards. (BTW- the "PC input: analog RGB (D-Sub 15-pin)" was the TV specs, not the computer)

I like the DVD media center/xbox idea. I have a follow up question. Do any of the DVD media center players also support high definition DVDs? That would be ideal b/c I think netflix has some HD DVDs in stock now.
posted by hokie409 at 11:07 AM on June 27, 2006

No, that's why I didn't suggest the XBOX. There's an XBOX upgrade by FriendTech where they swap out the old processor with a 1.4Ghz. chip and some more L2 RAM, but it can throw the timings off in some games. You'd need the faster processor to support full-motion playback of an HD source, particularly if it's from an MPEG4-based codec. I think the DreamX (the name of the souped-up XBOX) goes for about twice a normal XBOX.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:58 PM on June 27, 2006

lundman writes "Zensonic's Z500
"Buffalo's Linktheater
"IOData's Linkplayer
"Momitsu 880"

Not sure if you're still checking this thread, but is there a particular standout in that list? I'm currently considering the Linkplayer because the Zensonic is not available in Canada (end of July, early August apparently). I've heard positive reviews of the Linktheater and 880 but the Linkplayer2 seems to be the standout based on specs alone (besides the Zensonic).
posted by purephase at 5:09 AM on June 29, 2006

Still here, I use the "Your Comments" feature as to not miss anything. And yes, I picked that order on purpose.

I would say the Zensonic Z500 is the best, or at least the most promising right now. US colleague has it, and true it has some bugs (they all do) but it is the latest, and its features list is the best. Supports plain samba as well as UPNP, and I believe they released sourcecode for it, which interests me greatly. I have not found anywhere to buy it in Japan, but I know of a few online places that will ship it to me.

I personally have the Buffalo, I picked it over IOData as it can be (very easily) made Region Free. This is a must to me, I buy DVDs in all countries and naturally want to be able to play them. However, Buffalos PAL->NTSC conversion is jerky.

IOData might be more refined, but without Region Free it really does not matter.

I mentioned XBox last as chipping is not for normal people, nor do I consider it UserFriendly enough to be considered an Appliance Player.
posted by lundman at 10:21 PM on June 29, 2006

Yeah, the region free part is not that important to me. I'm more interested in the network streaming capabilities and the fact that the Infrant ReadyNAS NV lists the middle three devices as supported meant the most to me. If the Zensonic would have been available in Canada earlier (and cheaper, it is twice as expensive as the Linktheater or Linkplayer) I still may have considered it.

I went ahead and purchased the Linkplayer. I found a distributor really close to home with a decent price so we'll see how that goes. Thanks for your follow-up!
posted by purephase at 5:09 AM on June 30, 2006

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