Internet Home Theater, Network Media Players, Media Streamers

Tips on How to Add and Use The Internet in a Home Theater Setup

The internet is quickly becoming an integral part of the home theater experience but is also causing confusion for consumers as to how to add the internet to their home theater, what content is available for access, and if it is even worth the effort. Check out some basic tips that will get you started in enjoying the benefits of accessing content from the internet, and a home network, on your TV and home theater system.

Six Ways to Incorporate the Internet Into Your Home Theater

House of Cards on Netflix
Image of Netflix Streaming Menu Featuring House of Cards. Image provided by Netlix

As a result of increased audio and video content available via the internet, there is now a big emphasis on the integration of the internet with the home theater experience. There are several ways to integrate the internet, as well as PC-stored content on your home theater system.
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Pros and Cons of Accessing the Internet on a Home Theater

There are advantages and disadvantages to integrating the internet with a home theater system.
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What is a Network Media Player?

What is a network media player? Find out what Network Media Player is and how this device makes it possible to view and listen to your computer's libraries of photos, TV shows and movies on your TV, and listen to music on your home theater speakers.
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What is a Media Streamer?

While network media player devices have been increasing in popularity, there still is a question of what to call them and how to describe them. The term "media streamers" has been cropping up on tech blogs. It is being used to describe all network media players. Yet this seems like an incomplete description. We would be better served to make a distinction between the media-playing feature and the media-streaming feature.
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Best Network Media Players and Media Streamers

As a result of increased convergence of the PC and Home Theater, a new type of product has emerged, referred to as the Network Media Player or Media Extender. These products allow access to PC media content or the streaming/downloading of audio, video, and still image content directly from the internet that can be played on your TV or home theater system. In addition to standalone devices, Media Player/Extender capability is also being built into other products, such as Blu-ray Disc players and even TVs. For a look at Media Player/Extender options that might work well with your home theater, check out my Network Media Player/Extender Top Picks.

How to Shop for a Network Media Player

Network Media Players are quickly becoming important add-ons to the home theater entertainment experience. To keep pace with this development, is continuing to provide additional coverage in this area. One important question many of you are asking is: How do you choose which network media player to buy for yourself or as a gift? For some great answers to this question,
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What is Apple TV?

Many people imagine a television when they hear about Apple TV. Apple TV is not a television. Find out what Apple TV really is and how it can complement your TV viewing experience, by reading the
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What is Google TV?

With Google TV, you have a whole new way to watch your TV. But Google TV is not a television, and it is not only the internet application that might be available on your TV.
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What is Vudu?

Vudu is an online video-on-demand service. Vudu is known for streaming, Blu-ray quality true 1080p, full high-definition video, and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound. It offers a large library of movies and TV titles that may be rented and streamed to network media players, media streaming devices, network TVs and home-theater components that have the Vudu app. If your device has a hard drive, you can also choose to own a movie by downloading and saving it.

Complete Guide to Samsung Apps for Smart TVs and Blu-ray Disc Players

If you have an iPhone or Android phone, you are familiar with the concept of "apps". However, did you know that your TV or Blu-ray disc player can have apps too? One example of apps used on TVs and Blu-ray disc players are Samsung Apps. Samsung Apps take TV viewing to a new level by bringing useful and fun internet content (such as Netflix) and activities (shopping and games) to your home theater viewing experience.

For a comprehensive look at Samsung Apps, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Samsung Apps.

All About Crackle TV

Crackle TV is a free service, owned by Sony, that lets you stream full-length uncut movies and TV shows from the internet. The catch is that the movies and TV shows are interrupted by commercials. For all the details on Crackle's free movies and TV shows and whether you want to quit your Netflix and Hulu Plus subscriptions
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What You Need to Play Media on a Network Media Player

Before you access your photos and videos or listen to music on a network media player, be sure you have everything you need.
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Digital Media File Basics

What do all those file format acronyms mean? Make sure your network media player is compatible with the file formats in your media library.
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The Difference Between "Streaming" and "Downloading" Media

What is the difference between streaming music or a movie and downloading it? Find out what you need to know when streaming or downloading media to your network media player or computer.

Internet Speed Requirements for Video Streaming

When you stream movies on your network media player/media streamer from online sites like Netflix, Hulu or Vudu, you don't want to have to wait while the movie loads, or buffers. You certainly don't want the movie to stop every few minutes to load again.
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How to Avoid Buffering and Loading Screens When Streaming Video

When you start streaming videos from online or from your video libraries to your network media player or media streamer, you may experience a loading screen while the movie download buffers. Learn why movie streaming is interrupted and how fast internet and home connections can eliminate the wait in the article: How to Avoid Buffering and Loading Screens When Streaming Video.

Media File Compression

When video, photo or music is saved in a digital format the result can be a huge file that is hard to stream and uses up a lot of memory on the computer or hard drive to which it is saved. In order to save space, files are made smaller by removing some of the data. This is referred to as "compression". For an in-depth look at media file compression and how it works, Read the Full Article

Five Reasons Why Apple TV Is the Best Media Player for Mac and iPhone Users

Although Apple TVs only work with iTunes, there are five great reasons why an Apple TV may be the best network media player if you are a Mac user, own an iPhone, an iPad, or an iPod Touch. For all the details, Read the Full Article

What to Look For When Shopping For a NAS (Network Attached Storage) Device

A NAS (Network Attached Storage Device) can store a centralized media library of photos, music, and movies to access on your network media player and home network computers. NAS devices are not just hard drives, they have features like remote access of stored audio, video, and still image files. For details on how to shop for the best NAS for your home theater/home network setup, check out the article Ten Features to Compare When Shopping For a NAS

All About Firmware and Firmware Updates

Did you purchase a Blu-ray Disc Player, Network Media Player, or other home theater component recently? If so, you probably noticed a sheet packed in the box, or a section of the user manual, that discusses how you can upgrade your Blu-ray Disc player, network media player, other home theater device via a "firmware or software update process".

As consumer electronics get more complicated and the speed of technology changes quickly, the need to keep a product up-to-date is critical. To keep up with the pace of change, engineers have developed a way to add features and perform "bug fixes" via firmware updates. Find out everything you need to know about firmware updates in our Comprehensive Guide to Firmware and Firmware Updates.