Computer to Television
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While watching digital content on a computer screen may be fine when it is being conducted on a one-on-one basis, there are often occasions when the audience consists of more than one person. You could be watching a movie, viewing family photos in a group, or maybe demonstrating a particular application. Then again you could be indulging in a brainstorming sessions with others gathered around a screen. In such situations you may prefer to use your widescreen television as the display medium. Offering to provide a way to link your computer to a television or similar display unit is the nScreen Deluxe product from honestech.
Not to be confused with various multimedia products, such as those from ViewSonic and Eminent, which arrive with their own remote control and offer a range of features, the nScreen Deluxe product merely acts as a conduit between the computer and the selected display medium. The nScreen Deluxe kit consists of a small box (135 x 82 x 25mm), various leads, a folded multi-language Quick Start Guide and a CD containing the relevant software including the User Guide in PDF format.
Slightly larger than a pack of cards, the nScreen box’s colour scheme consists of a white top and bottom sandwiching a black filling. Arranged along the back of the black filling are various connection sockets. You will need to attach the supplied power lead along with either the HDMI or composite AV lead, found in the box, linking the unit to the chosen display. There are also sockets for USB and Ethernet connections plus a small on/off button.
Setting up the kit is straightforward and takes but a few minutes of your time. After making the necessary connections between the nScreen box, power supply and your viewing medium (probably a television), you can then install the supplied software on a computer with wireless capability – this last feature is important as the nScreen kit can receive but does not include a transmitter. After entering the product’s 25-character serial number, you can register your copy of the product. The next stage consists of either using a wizard to make the wireless connection between the computer and the nScreen box or carry out this process manually.
This nScreen product offers two different modes of operation. You can select to use either Project or Stream mode with the ability to switch easily between the two when the need arises by clicking on a button or using a user-defined hot key. When using Project mode, the television, or whatever remote display you have set up, will duplicate whatever is on the computer screen. This mode is fine for demonstrating an application or procedure as you carry out actions on the computer with the results being visible on the larger screen for communal viewing.
A tabbed setting box allows you to make certain adjustments to Project mode. You can select from resolution settings that include 1280 x 720 and 720 x 480. You can also opt to display the mouse cursor on the television screen.
Streaming mode, as you might expect, operates differently. The nScreen interface on the computer allows you to select appropriate media using the normal Windows browse and selection conventions. Those items selected will be displayed as thumbnails in an interface that includes standard controls for play, stop, fast forward and reverse plus a volume adjust and mute feature. The output from this interface will be sent to the chosen display unit while allowing you to use the computer for different activities while others watch the movie.
Earlier I mentioned that the nScreen box has ports for Ethernet and USB connectivity. The Ethernet connection (you will need to supply the lead) allows you to connect the box to your modem/router so that you still retain Internet connectivity when connected to the nScreen wireless network. As far as I can tell the USB port is there just to serve a single purpose. It can be used to attach a flash stick when there is a firmware update available.
Following the popular trend of developing apps for most activities, honestech has released an Android App that allows your Android device, whether smartphone or Tablet, to work with the nScreen box and sent content to your chosen display medium. This app will search your device for appropriate content and then let you select which will be transmitted to the nScreen box. There is also an App for the iPhone and iPad but I have not been able to test this version.
I have been impressed with the ease of use and performance of the nScreen Deluxe. It may not have the functionality of a full-blown multimedia player but that it does, it does well.
System requirements call for a Core 2 Duo or Athlon X2 2.1GHz processor and higher, 1GB of RAM, 200MB of hard disk space, 802.11g/n Wi-Fi running Windows XP (SP2) and later. Pricing has been set at £129.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
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