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Monday, December 6, 2010

Make your own home media center

With the widespread use of high-speed Internet, the Web is now flooded with online video streaming choices. And if you've been thinking about jumping into the video streaming revolution or setting up your own home theater PC (HTPC), but just aren't sure how to do it or which route to go, I'll try to break it down into the simplest of terms with my series this week on setting up your home media center.

Obviously, the first thing you'll need to stream online content is a computer. Most people know that you can stream content onto a PC or Mac, but did you also know you can stream content to video game consoles, such as the XBox 360, Playstation 3 or even a handheld mobile device, such as a smartphone?

There are many ways to go about setting up your media center, depending on what you want out of it. Here are some of the current choices available that I'll go over this week: 

Part I (Tuesday): Streaming online
This most basic way to stream is via your Web browser. The most common are Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, and the most common streaming outlets are Hulu and Netflix.

The most basic way to stream online video content to your computer is via Hulu (pictured) or Netflix.

Part II (Wednesday): Media center software
There are a plethora of applications available to help organize your media and stream online content. Check back this week for a breakdown of those choices for both PC and Mac.

Part III (Thursday): Media center hardware
The most hardcore of streamers out there will probably want to buy a media center device to help keep their digital content organized. This can be a media box, such as Boxee, Apple TV, a game console or even using an actual PC as a media center computer.

Be sure to check back all this week for some tips on setting up the media center that's just right for you.