Have Movies on Your PC? Watch Them on TV

You have movies on your PC? Me, too, and I'm using MediaGate's nifty multi-media hi-def player to wirelessly--and effortlessly--beam them to my TV.

The MediaGate MG-450HD has lots of cool features and here's the stunner--it works as advertised. Even if you're a novice, you can get it working without much stress--start watching movies on your TV--in about 5 minutes. The cost isn't outrageous, either. I found one discounting for about $215.

Making the TV Connection

The first thing you'll need to do is spend a few minutes connecting the MediaGate to the TV. You have lots of choices: Composite, S-Video, HD components (Y, Pb, Pr at 480p, 720p, or 1080i) or HDMI (480p, 720p, 1080i, or 1080p).

If you don't have a HDTV rig, or you're not a video fanatic (or the vids aren't hi-def), you can get away with the typical connection: Composite with a yellow, white, and red cable.

Audio out is a typical left-right stereo or, if your TV has it, coaxial or optical digital.

Use a Hard Drive

The MediaGate has four ways for you to stream the movies from your PC onto the TV. The easiest is to copy the videos onto an external hard drive and bring it into the room where the MediaGate is connected to your TV. Connect the external drive to the MediaGate's mini-USB 2.0 port, turn it on, fiddle with the remote, and start watching. Yep, it's that easy.

Videos played perfectly, too, without any lag or stutter, despite the external connection; about the only delay is at the start when a video begins loading into the MediaGate's memory.

The second method is straightforward, too. Grab a spare SATA drive (formatted as FAT32 or NTFS), and install it inside the MediaGate. It takes just a few minutes to remove the MediaGate's cover, pop the drive in and connect the cable, and screw the case back on. The process is the same as with an external hard drive: Copy movies from your PC to the MediaGate and connect it to the TV.

Of course, you're probably a step ahead of me--and you're right. The downside to having an internal drive is schlepping the MediaGate back to the PC every time you want to load more films.

Quick aside: The big advantage, though, of having the flexibility of an internal drive is--right--portability. I loaded the MediaGate and took it with me on a trip; I grabbed a composite cable and plugged the puppy into the hotel room's TV. Tell me that's not cool! The MediaGate also did double duty: I copied all the files I might need to work on while away and used the device as an external hard drive.

BTW, with an external or internal hard drive, it's a simple task to use Windows Explorer to drag and drop the videos you want to watch onto the drive.

A Wired--or Wi-Fi--Connection

Many of you have a network at home; some of you might even have a small network server as part of the system. (I have a Maxtor Shared Storage 1TB that acts as a spot to store all my backups and my collection of videos.) If you have Cat5 networking cable running from your router or PC to the location of the TV, just connect it to the LAN port on the MediaGate.

If the gods are working in your favor, the network will recognize the MediaGate (as it would another PC or a shared printer), and you're good to go. If not, you'll need to spend time fiddling; it took me about 15 minutes getting the DHCP setting right. It wasn't a big deal.

Crawling under the house to lay the line, however, might not be one of your skills. So the next method might be best for you: Beam the movies with MediaGate's 54-mbps 802.11g skills.

If you already have a wireless setup and know how to connect new devices, facing MediaGate's setup screen will be a snap. If not, and your knowledge of wireless is minimal, there's no way around having to spend time reading through the manual. My wireless talents aren't strong, yet I had the MediaGate working in about 20 minutes.

This Week's Roundup of Time Wasters

Do you think you're a science fiction aficionado, and know your robots? If you're able to distinguish between a Cylon and, say, The Borg, Name That Robot is for you.

What happens when a creature sticks its face against glass? It's probably not the sort of thing you've been thinking about, but then again, you don't write a weekly Time Wasters blog. Get a load of 50 Animals Squashed Against Glass--and be glad you don't have to wash the windows.

Use the cursor keys to move the square through the blueprint and get it to the X. "Open Doors," I hear you thinking, "it can't be that hard..." Don't be too sure, especially as you get to higher levels (if you do, that is).

Emily isn't real--but she's amazingly life-like. So much so that given the right setup, say, a small screen at an ATM, you might even think you were talking to a real live person. Scary, no?

Steve Bass is the author of "PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer," available from Amazon.com. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.

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