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Putting the Right Device in the Right Place

If you are mixing both PCs and media extenders in a client/server home entertainment network, it is important to put the right device in the right place.

By understanding what type of activity you do in each room, you can easily determine what type of device is best for each location.

Because you are creating a home entertainment network, it’s a given that you should be able to access all your entertainment content from any device located in your network. A bigger question is how you experience that content. The type of display you use, the size of the display, the basic ergonomics of your room, the sound system—these are all key factors in having a great media experience.

With a mix of PCs and media extenders, the same is true for a great computing experience. When you are surfing the Web, reading and writing emails, word processing, and using creative programs for photo editing and music management, you need a good computing work space.

A PC using a TV as its display is perfect for watching TV and videos, but you do not want to do much traditional computing with such a display. TVs are extremely low-resolution and can be fuzzy for computing work. Also, if you’ve set up your room for media watching, you’ll probably be sitting pretty far back from the display and on a comfortable chair rather than an office chair.

The reverse is true for media playing. If you’ve set your client PC in an office setting, it’s great for computing but won’t be comfortable for watching a long movie or listening to music for any length of time.

This whole "TV versus computing dilemma" is termed the 10-inch/10-foot experience. Using it as a rule helps you plan which type of device configuration is best for a room based on whether you will be primarily doing computing or playing media. Figure 3.4 shows the computer viewing experience, and Figure 3.5 shows the TV viewing experience:

  • Ten-inch—General and office computing tasks are best done at least 10 inches from a display, as shown in Figure 3.4. You also should use a high-quality, high-resolution computer monitor for computing.
  • Ten-foot—Watching TV, watching picture slideshows, and listening to music is best done about 10 feet from a display, and that display should be a good TV.
Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 General computing is best done with a computer monitor as a "10-inch" experience.

Figure 3.5

Figure 3.5 Watching media is best done with a TV as a "10-foot" experience.

Of course, the preceding rules could be 6-inch/6-feet or even 12-inch/12-feet, depending on your displays and what is comfortable for you.

There will be locations where you plan to do both media viewing/playing and computing. One solution is to use a PC and take advantage of the display card’s ability to connect both a computer monitor and a TV to the PC at the same time.

When you are using the PC for general computing, sit at a table or desk in the room and locate the computer monitor there for a 10-inch experience. When you want to kick back and play some media, take the wireless keyboard and mouse over to the couch and have a 10-foot experience watching media files on the TV.

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