MAKE YOUR PC A HOME THE­ATRE

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - DIY SPECIAL - BY NANDAGOPAL RA­JAN

With down­loads of videos and TV shows be­com­ing com­mon, it is only nat­u­ral that the PC is now a en­ter­tain­ment hub. But the PC and its ac­ces­sories fall short while playing HD con­tent. Here is how to bring your PC up to the scratch. WHAT YOU WILL NEED: A desk­top or lap­top with at least 4GB RAM, a good graph­ics card and 5.1 or (7.1) sound card, 5.1 (or 7.1) speak­ers set and an LED mon­i­tor of at least 22 inches. THE PC: You can run HD con­tent on your PC if it has the right RAM and graph­ics card, us­ing a me­dia player like VLC or UMPLayer. Select a me­dia player which can play al­most all me­dia file types and lets you en­hance the pic­ture and sound as needed.

SOUND: Most HD files have 5.1 sound, but PCs gen­er­ally don’t have sim­i­lar sound output. So even if you play HD con­tent, the sound will be in stereo and you might miss some tracks. To get over this you should get a 5.1 (or 7.1) soundcard in­stalled. If you do not want to open your PC for this, there is the op­tion of get­ting a USB-based ex­ter­nal soundcard (`1,500+). As far as speak­ers go, there is al­ways the op­tion of get­ting a home the­atre sys­tem. But a good 5.1 speaker set (`3,000+) will also give you a sim­i­lar sound output for much less. Select units with wooden speak­ers for the best ef­fect while watch­ing movies.

SCREEN: If you want to watch movies on the com­puter, go for a large LED screen. Say around 26 inches (`10,000 +). Al­ter­na­tively, you can also get a Pico or com­pact pro­jec­tor (`20,000+) to beam the im­ages on to a wall. We say Pico pro­jec­tors be­cause they are much cheaper and suit­able for the home where the im­ages don’t need to be ex­tra large. There is also the op­tion of con­nect­ing to a large HDTV us­ing an HDMI ca­ble–you might need a con­verter if your PC does not have a HDMI port. WHAT TO DO: It is sim­ple, once you have th­ese things in place the en­tire rig will be as good as any TV-home the­atre combo you can get. Only, this will cost you much less. This won’t be a great op­tion for peo­ple who can go ahead and buy a large TV and home the­atre sys­tem. But for those who are con­strained by money and space, this will be as good as any­thing. And if you are go­ing to miss TV, get a TV tuner card with re­mote (`1,200+) to add to the fun.

Ideal speaker place­ment for a 7.1 speaker sys­tem.

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