March 01, 2010 by Stephen Hopkins
Q. I have a Yamaha RX-V1 A/V Receiver, from seven or eight years ago. I have all the supporting high-end equipment of that vintage, all still very good, but no way to access HDMI inputs/outputs, or any computer-loaded media access. Is there a device, preferably wireless, that I could connect to my computer that would allow me to send audio and video content to my receiver for distribution through my present wired connections to my big-screen TV and audio system?—dgruber, Tallahassee, Fla.
A. There are several network-connected media players at various price points that would work well for your situation. On the low end, something like the Western Digital WD TV Live would provide network connectivity and playback of any files on your network along with HDMI, component video, and optical digital audio output, all for around $120 depending where you shop. File container and codec support for audio, video, and photos is extensive and there’s the added bonus of connection to internet streaming services like Pandora, YouTube, and Flickr. I’ll be posting a review of this device, along with a couple of other similar ones, in the coming weeks.
Prices and features go up from there, but some sort of Home Theater PC (HTPC) would be the next logical step up. There are various pre-configured HTPC options, but small form factor PCs from manufacturers like Acer and Dell, along with Windows Media Center or free software like XBMC or MediaPortal, are popular options in the $200 and up range. If you’re comfortable with PC configuration and home networking, setting up an HTPC yourself can save a lot of money, but can also become a never-ending tweak/upgrade cycle if you have a hobbyist mentality.
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Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.
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