FAQs Vol 2: What is a home media centre and do I need one?

What is a home media centre?

A home media centre is a smart solution to a truly 21st-century problem. If you’re like most normal folks, then you’ll likely not trade in all your consumer goods every time new models are released. When we invest in a television or similar device, we expect it to last a few years, however, the inexorable march of technology sometimes moves a little fast than we can deal with, this is when we find that our prized possessions are no longer up to the task of delivering the entertainment experience that we desire. If you’ve found yourself a little disappointed with the level of value you’re getting from your current set up, then now might be the right time to upgrade!

A modern home media centre is comprised of a desktop computer which has been rigged with the necessary drivers to show live TV, in addition to playing media files, streaming video, music and even playing games. In short, it does a lot more than even the smartest of TVs and because its all the heavy lifting is performed by a powerful computer, it provides a snappy, seamlepss exerience that can’t be matched by any commercial smart television.

Should I buy one for my living room?

Whether you should buy one of these machines or not depends on how much you’re willing to invest and how much you want out of your home media set up. If you’re already happy with your TV and simply want a few smart capabilities (like DVR or Netflix) then you may be able to get by with buying a dongle (as little as £25) or purchasing a current-gen console (£200 and up). However, if you want to be able to sync up a hard drive with your living room set up, then you’ll need a desktop computer do so and a custom media centre would be the best choice. Depending on the components that you go for, you could spend upwards of £500, but spend wisely and you won’t need to invest again for a long time to come.

What You’ll Need

Screen

If you’ve already got a decent TV then you can rest on your laurels here, however if your screen has fallen behind the curve a little and lacks definition then now would be a good time to upgrade.  Maximise on definition by purchasing a computer monitor instead of a television. Monitors tend to be more expensive than televisions, but they are better suited to a variety of tasks, rather than just television.

Power Supply

Investing in a safe, secure power supply might not seem like a priority (after all this isn’t necessary for a traditional TV setup), but a purpose-built converter working in tandem with a surge-protector will keep your investments safe from unexpected surges. Electronics experts, Wall Industries, recommend investing in a high-end DC-DC converter in order to ensure that your items are protected.

Desktop Computer

You’ll need a fairly high-performance PC to perform the tasks of a modern media centre, skimp on this part and you’ll spend months regretting your decision, before sheepishly making a second purchase. There are plenty of good value options available online, Amazon, in particular, being a great source for refurbished PCs. If you’d like to get the best bang for your buck, then you could build your own PC but that comes with its own set of challenges, which we won’t cover here.

Sound System

Finally, a media centre is only as good as its sound system. In order for you to get the most of your new media centre, you should consider investing in a quality sound system that is designed to provide surround sound. There are a few shoddy brands out there pushing 7.1 surround systems for low prices, just remember that in the world of electronics you get what you pay for (sometimes even less!).

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