Several companies have long been promising the convergence of the PC and the TV. Their promises are finally becoming a practical reality. While mostly the younger set will want to watch movies on their PC, the prospect of connecting the two and sharing content is potentially attractive to anyone.

PC monitors and TVs traditionally projected images in entirely different ways. But as digital broadcasting, DVD and other media grew the differences diminished. Though there remain many dissimilarities under the covers, it's much easier now to mask those.

Several TV networks now offer a variety of popular TV shows as downloads over the Internet. Disney, for example, provides some content exclusively found on the web and it's free. Other producers have made arrangements for episodes to be available the day after TV broadcast, sometimes for a subscription fee.

Finally, with the advent of large screen LCD and plasma panels, the differences between a TV and a computer monitor have been reduced in some cases to how the unit is connected and what software drives the display.


Most HDTV panels have one or more methods for connecting to your PC.

Some have RGB (red-green-blue) connectors of the type familiar to anyone who has hooked up a stereo. Cables run from the front or back of the TV into either the VGA connector on your PC's graphic card or into a similar connector on a HDTV card.

Another method involves connecting a VGA to component cable between the PC and the HDTV's component ports. In that setup the graphics card in the PC usually goes to a standard monitor, with a PC to HDTV card providing the interface between the PC and your HDTV.

Either setup allows viewers to display digital photos or video on the HDTV. But there is more. To expand on that capability a card, such as ATI's HDTV PC card, can be used to receive over the air HDTV broadcasts.

Most homeowners have cable or satellite, but broadcasters still do what their name suggests: broadcast TV over the air. As time goes on, more and more of that content is in the form of high definition TV. Several popular shows, and many sports events, are now regularly shown in HD format.

Installing the ATI HDTV Wonder card and connecting it to your HDTV is simple and relatively inexpensive. The card retails for around $120. The limitation is you can only receive and display over the air material. The card is not a method for bypassing the cable or satellite companies pay for play offerings.

More expensive, but more full-featured, options are available. For example, NEC has recently announced their ValueStar product. Combining a HDTV, a DVR (digital video recorder, aka Tivo) and a PC in one, it retails for about $2,800.

Lastly, several of the newer HDTV sets, as well as the new HD players (HD-DVD or Blu-ray) have an in-built Ethernet connector. Currently, its use is primarily for firmware upgrades to the TV or player, but that is likely to change over the next couple of years.

Several vendors are promising movies and more shuttled between the PC and the HDTV, to the point that the distinction - after all these years - may finally, truly, disappear.

ATI HDTV Wonder 100-714127 ATI HDTV Wonder 100-714127
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