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This chapter is from the book

Using PCs When Computing Power Is Needed

Even when watching media, sometimes a PC is the best device if you want to mix your media experience with content and information from the Internet.

Media extenders are essentially media playing devices that are limited to playing media files but have little or no computing power. They are not designed to surf the Web or do any traditional computing functions.

If you want to find more information about shows you are watching, play along with interactive TV shows from their websites, order a CD when you are listening to a song playing from a streaming music channel, or take a quick break to check your email, you might want to use a PC rather than a media extender—at least in that location.

Currently, PCs still have an edge over media extenders because they do allow you to mix content from the Internet with the media you are playing. When needed, you can always use them as PCs for email and getting news, sports, and weather.

Table 3.1 is a simple guide to which type of client is best suited for any location.

Table 3.1 Selecting a PC or Media Extender Client

Activity

PC

Media Extender

Watching TV

X

X

Viewing photos

X

X

Listening to music

X

X

Ripping CDs

X

 

Viewing enhanced TV

X

 

Surfing the Web

X

 

Editing video

X

 

Email

X

 

As you can see, PCs are capable of all activities, but they cost more than a media extender. Many of the activities in Table 3.1 can be done on one single PC, and you might find that a full PC is not needed in many locations if they are primarily used for media viewing and playing.

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