Your First Home Theater Network
Only a few years ago, home theaters consisted of large tube-based TVs, VCRs, and stereos with two speakers. Today, home theaters consist of flat-panel HDTVs, receivers, surround sound speakers, DVD players, and more. So what components will make up the home theater of tomorrow? Audio, video, and data distribution will be key to the future home theater, which will soon morph into a home theater network.
Today's home theater is limited to a single room. For example, a show recorded on a DVR can only be viewed on the TV to which the DVR is connected; music heard from the speakers of a home theater can only be heard in the room in which the speakers are placed. However, by establishing a home theater network, owners expand the capabilities of their home theater by creating a system capable of sending a recorded TV show to any bedroom, or playing music on speakers throughout the property.
The equipment needed to change a home theater into a home theater network includes a router, receiver, and a home theater PC (HTPC). The router distributes data and allows Ethernet-capable devices in a home theater to connect to the Internet and a home network. The receiver distributes audio and video from a home theater to multiple rooms. Note, the simple 5.1 surround sound receivers of today are not capable of this function. Newer receivers with multiple-zone outputs will be necessary for a home theater network. Finally, the HTPC functions as a source for audio, video, and data. For example, the HTPC can be used as a central server where an owner can save all of his music, video, pictures, and data. An HTPC also has the ability to serve as a DVR, and record TV shows. Since the HTPC is a computer, its capabilities are essentially endless.
As prices drop, more people are trading in their large, tube-based TVs and stereos for thin, high definition TVs and multi-zone output receivers. Also, more people are building home networks with their laptops and multiple computers. The merging of the home theater and home network into a home theater network will arrive in the not–too-distant future. Your first home theater network lies just around the corner.