Multimedia at Home

December 09, 2016 at 3:55 PM

How smart is your TV?

smart-tv.pngThese days you get more than just a screen that sits in your lounge but what
does it really mean to own a Smart TV? Let’s have a look.

A smart TV is any TV that has a built-in internet connectivity that allows you to access services such as stream video, music, pictures and even browsing the internet from the couch. It’s all about Home Multimedia Entertainment. Now not all smart TV’s will do all these services as this will vary depending on make, model and series of the unit. Much like buying a car, there are models that will look the same but will have varied features as well as cost.

So, what do people do with them?

One of the most popular features that people seem to be using at the moment is video streaming. With services like Lightbox or Netflix, you’re able to browse a library of content like TV shows or Movies which are made instantly available and the click of a button. No more visiting the video store (if they haven’t closed down in your area) to browse the collection only to find the one movie you wanted has already been booked out.

With these services, you normally pay a monthly cost for unlimited access so you can start watching anything you like. I find then find it's not for you, move on to something else or re-watch something you love as many times as you like.

The ability to catch up on missed shows that would normally be aired on TV services such as Freeview, Sky or T-Box can be done through on-demand services running directly from the TV. There is also the ability to connect a USB stick or drive to the TV and access your own content like home movies, music and pictures.

I don’t have a Smart TV but I would like to use some of the features, what can I do?

There are plenty of ways that you can use these same types of services on just about any TV with the addition of plug in devices. I like to use devices like this personally as you can put them on any TV and if you upgrade in the future, you just plug it the new screen and carry on with what you’re familiar with. Here is a list of some media players you can use to enhance your standard TV:

Blu-ray/DVD players

You might already have one of these and if it was purchased within the past few of years, it may already support multimedia playback. These devices can have a USB port on them that would allow a memory stick or hard drive to be plugged into the unit and allow access to the content saved on it such as Movies, Pictures and Music. A modern player that can connect to the internet, may also allow addition apps to grant access for streaming services like Netflix. Not all players support this but check out what you have already as you may be surprised.



 144738.1.jpgThis has been a popular unit due to its size, cost and easy to use. Chromecast is a little dongle that plugs straight into your HDMI port on the TV.

When it’s connected, and powered up, it creates a streaming point that allows video, music and images sent to it when using a computer with Google Chrome web browser, mobile phone or tablet.  The device itself doesn’t allow storage of files or content directly to it and does require a computer or mobile device connected to the home network.


Gaming Consoles Xbox/PlayStation

These units are already designed with multimedia entertainment in mind.

They allow you to connect a USB hard drive to them and access the content for playback just like the Blu-ray players.

Apps can be installed to grant access to services like Netflix, TV on-demand and also the ability to play content you have stored on a computer running on the network.

These are a great all-in-one entertainment system for any TV and great fun to use


Apple TV

143079.jpgAnother plug and play unit similar to the Chromecast which is primarily focused on steaming content from the internet.

If you have an Apple account, you can also access any of your purchased Movies and Music under your account and stream it directly to the TV. These units don’t have storage directly on but like the consoles, they can access content that is running from computers connected to the network. The Apple TV also allows content to be pushed from mobile devices such as phones, computers and tablets. They can also be used to play games on while using a phone as a controller. Very cool.

There are plenty of other units available on the market these days and all it takes is a little research to find something that will meet your needs. The home multimedia experience can be a lot of fun for family and friends and is so popular that new technologies are coming out all the time so who knows what we’re going to see in the future but I’m sure we can say it’ll be exciting.

If you’re interested in taking the step into personal home multimedia or have questions about hardware you already own, feel free to contact us at McDonalds IT and we’ll be glad to give our assistance.


Article by: Shay Matheson


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