Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Arranging Computers

Moving, as many of you can imagine, I needed to rearrange our computers for new smaller spaces.

I decided to have computers double as TVs and vice-versa to save space. That convergence is now available, home-made or from the store.

Unfortunately I used the saved space for more devices, but I did cut the need for space in half. Each TV is also a computer. Each computer is also a TV. Also computers and TVs are far more conveniently located.

Also, it is much more convenient to sit in an easy chair and watch TV, read a book, or use a computer.---computers need such access that way, too.

To get that convenience, I had to use WiFi, which now streams HDTV to computers and also streams to HDTVs thru Apple TV. I also needed some long cables to get things where needed, up to 50 feet---existing outlet jacks were not always well placed.

What would the ideal setup be?

It is handy to watch TV and even computer screens, reclining, as TV in hotel rooms. HDTV requires half the distance from the viewer as the old analog, so that I needed to get computers and TVs half as far from old TV for the same size screen. That was arranged for chairs, sofas and beds, so that all can be used for computer or TV either sitting or reclining. I needed remote keyboards and meece (hi Herb), plus also special controllers.

I also wanted to be able to access eBooks and internet anywhere in the surroundings and further away.

In the building, TV and eBooks are accessed thru my WiFi network using HDHomeRun, the box that connects between cable and computer, and using Kindle eBooks software on the computers.

Then, the iPad works anywhere from Clear Communications pocketable WiFi “hotspot”. Initially this device worked sporadically, but now perfectly as towers and power have been upgraded. My smartphone also accesses most things from anywhere there is 3g or 4g (but not as widely available as claimed).

An electronic piano needed to be integrated for sheet music onscreen and composition. My CDs and converted LPs are accessible anywhere.

All this took some mind-bending and head-scratching.

Remote keyboards and meece from Microsoft are great. Small tables near chairs and sofas accommodate them and also remotes, such as for cable and Apple TV. Apple TV brings access to TV, Movies, YouTube, Podcasts, MP3s, and so forth. The tiny box can be moved about. Reviewers tend to overlook what this thing can do---the Apple TV, like the iPad, is a game changer.

It all finally worked, after some hurdles. My older TV devices were obsolete, and Windows 7 rejected them anyway. HDHomerun was a godsend, cheap, and paid for by selling my old stuff on EBay. I found that old monitors could not display HD.

It was a shock to learn that much cable HDTV cable is being encrypted for use only with cable boxes from Comcast, but I learned that basic cable is NOT to be affected.

The final result is access anywhere, regardless of mobility and vision problems, in minimal space, worth the struggle. The cost was low to do-it-myself.

Most will not want to do it themselves but simply to use the new combo TV/computers or boxes to use your HDTV as a computer. HDHomeRun is the best bet just to get HD on your ( newer) computer(s). But first figure out the best place(s) where you use a computer, read and watch TV.