Every now and then a new website comes along that supposedly makes it easy find and watch Internet television. Â Other than Hulu - which is owned by big, bad media - I can’t say that I use any of them (other than Ziptyzap.com, of course). Â Hulu is nice, but it’s limited to the content of the owners. Â The problem is that there is a lot more content on the Internet than what Hulu has to offer. Â PBS, Crackle (Sony), the other big networks all have lots of good stuff. Â The question is how to sort it all out and find it.
Enter Clicker. Â It’s easy to remember, because my wife refer to our remote control as the “clicker,” and for some reason are always searching for it. Where’s the clicker? Â Clicker was just launched this morning, November 11th and is now available for everybody. Â If you sign up for an account (it’s free), you can do things such as create playlists for viewing later.
The content is well organized and Clicker provides you with many ways to browse or search content. Â I entered “Gilligan” into the search box and came up with 36 episodes of Gilligan’s Island. Â As soon as you start typing, Clicker starts pulling up content that matches the letters you are inputing. Â Cool.
Regardless of how big media complains about losing revenue, in some ways Internet television can generate new revenue. Â Now folks can watch old classics (such as Gilligan’s Island) while watching new commercials. Â Good content for the viewer; new revenue for the owner. Â It’s a win-win situation.Â Give Clicker a try, I think you’ll like it. Â The Google of Internet television? Â Perhaps. Â We’ll have to wait and see.
There are apparently lots of HDTVs out there without VGA jacks. Â I know this because we’ve sold a lot of VGA to HDMI converters. Â Our first offering in this department worked well, however we had a fair amount of returns because the resolution available from the PC had to match what the HDTV would accept. Â And some HDTVs are pretty picky about what they will accept.
Our 2nd generation VGA to HDMI converter, now available at PCTVCables.com, now includes a “scaler function.” Â This unit will take most common PC output resolutions and automatically scale the image to a fixed 720p output. Â This should be compatible with almost all HDTVs. Â The new unit costs a little more but is guaranteed to work.
When I first received and tested a sample, I found that the image was shifted on my HDTV. Â This was easily corrected by turning off my PC’s VGA output (using the Monitor Key Method), and then turning it back on again. Â It turns out that the converter must be connected and turned on FIRST, prior to enabling the PC’s VGA output. Â This is because the converter will automatically communicate with the PC when you enable your VGA output via DDC and detect the resolution. Â The converter will then scale the image correctly.
As always, we sell all of our video converters as complete kits. Â So when you receive your product you will have everything you need to connect your PC to your TV.
Most, but not all new HDTVs are equipped with a “PC Input” which is the same as a standard PC VGA monitor connection.Â If you have a VGA connection on your TV you can simply use our VGA with Stereo Audio cable and bring the Internet to your television.Â However not everyone is so lucky.
If your HDTV does not have a “PC Input,” all is not lost.Â Perhaps you have a new PC with an HDMI output.Â If so,Â you can use our HDMI PC to TV cable.Â Now the good news - we now carry an affordable VGA to HDMI Converter which will allow you to connect any PC to any HDTV.Â We package this new converter with everything you need - including a 3′ HDMI to HDMI cable (connnects the converter to your HDTV) and either our 15′ or 25′ VGA with Stereo Audio cable (connects your PC to the converter).
Our VGA with Stereo Audio cable carries both high-definition video and stereo audio to the converter which converts the signals to digital format.Â The result is high-definition video and stereo audio on your HDTV.
We are now sourcing our converter products directly from the manufacturer which means that we can offer you a very competitive price.Â If you are shopping around for a PC to TV converter keep in mind that only PCTVCables.com sells converters packaged together with our custom video-and-audio-in-one cables.Â Â When you receive your converter you will have everything you need to bring the Internet to your television.
VGA to RCA Composite or S-Video PC to TV Converter
Everybody wants to connect their PCs to their TVs. Â And why not - it’s so easy to rent movies online, watch lots of your favorite TV shows on-demand, watch thousands of live streaming television stations from around the world, and so much more. Â The problem is that not everyone’s PC has the same connection as their TV.
We started small - by offering our most popular product - our VGA with Stereo Audio cable. Â Then we added the newest technology to hit the market - fully digital video and audio HDMI cables. Â Then we thought we’d expand into connecting PCs to older TVs. Â You know the ones - the old tube type with the familiar yellow, red and white input jacks? Â For this we sell our popular S-Video with Audio cables.
But even with these three cable offerings, we found a lot of folks who still couldn’t connect their PCs to their TVs. Â It turns out that old tube-type TVs are still very popular. Â But there are many, many PCs that don’t have the required S-Video output. Â The good news is that almost ALL PCs have a VGA output (I’ve never seen one that didn’t). Â So we now carry our VGA to RCA Composite or S-Video PC to TV converter.
This converter only sends the video signal to the TV. Â So we recommend our S-Video with Audio cable for use with this product (that’s why we offer the two as a combo for only $10 more - a great deal).
There’s one more PC to TV solution in the works. Â And that is connecting PCs to new HDTVs that don’t have VGA inputs (also called “PC inputs.”). Â I’m going to guess that only about 10% of new HDTV’s don’t have VGA inputs; but all new HDTVs have HDMI inputs. Â So in a couple of weeks we’ll be rolling out our latest offering Â - a VGA to HDMI converter.
Boxee (Alpha) for Windows is now available to the public. Â What, you ask, is Boxee? And why all the fuss?
We all know that the Internet is coming to the television (if you aren’t already connected, please, head over to PCTVCables.com). Boxee is a free software application that runs on your PC and makes it easy to find and watch both personal media and Internet content. Â In their own words:
Boxee “lets you navigate all your personal movies, TV shows, music and photos, as well as streaming content from websites like MLB, Netflix, Pandora, Last.fm, and Flickr”
It’s more or less a guide for quickly and easily finding stuff to watch. Â Just as importantly, Boxee integrates social networkingÂ Â which “allows users to share information about what theyâ€™re listening to or watching with other Boxee users or friends on social networks like twitter, facebook, etc.”
So say you find and watch a great flick on Boxee. Â Then you can easily comment on it and make it easy for your friends to find and watch. Â Your friends can also send you recommendations.
Why all the fuss? Â Boxee is designed to be seen on your TV. Â Most websites are designed to be seen up close - since you sit a few feet away from your PC. Â But when you connect your PC to your TV you are no longer a few feet away. Â You are probably 10 to 20 feet away. Â Boxee was designed to be seen - and used - from across the room. Â Many PCs now come with remote controls - so you can easily “channel flip” on Boxee from across the room. Â This has big media nervous. Â They don’t mind you watching Hulu or lots of other content on your PC. Â But now that you will start watching on your TV, you will be competing with their cashcow - cable and satellite television.
I recently discovered Crackle.com, a really coolÂ website from Sony Pictures Entertainment.Â Sony has a vast library of movies and such and rather than let them collect dust in the basement, they are bringing them to you - for free - and collecting some advertising revenue at the same time.Â This is a part of theÂ ”great disruptor” that is the Internet.Â Sony can now reach consumers directly - without having to use traditional delivery “middlemen” such as cable, satellite and even fiber.Â The Internet is quickly changing the way entertainment is distributed.
My wife and I recently watched “The Blue Lagoon” with Brooke Shields (no, I’ve never seen it and yes, I must have lived a sheltered life).Â We were so impressed that the following week we watchedÂ ”Jumanji” with Robin Williams.Â I’m lucky enough to have a new HP laptop with an HDMI output and a 720p Samsung HDTV with an HDMI input so I usedÂ our HDMI PC to TV cable.Â Â The video and audio quality wasÂ excellent as was bothÂ movie streams.Â When a major entertainmentÂ powerhouse sets out to do something they do it right.Â And right they did.Â TheÂ short once-every-15-minutes-or-so commercials didn’t bother us at all and we were glad to watch in exchange for high-quality entertainment.
There is currently about 60 movies online but I expect that this will grow quickly.Â The website titleÂ itself says “new every day.”Â From Crackle’s website:
Crackle, Inc., a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company, is a multi-platform next-generation video entertainment network that distributes digital content including original short form series and full-length traditional programming from Sony Picturesâ€™ vast library of television series and feature films. Crackle is one of the fastest growing entertainment destinations on the Internet today, offering audiences quality programming in a variety of genres, including comedy, action, sci-fi, horror, music and reality. Crackle reaches a global audience through its impressive online and mobile distribution network.
There’sÂ been a lot of buzz recently about Boxee - a free software application that makes it easy to find and watch internet content on your PC.Â Boxee doesn’t just run on PCs, but also on Apple TV (an expensive box that you connect to your TV).Â This factÂ has come to the attention of the big networks who are now worried that folks won’t need their cable or satellite service anymore.Â So they forced Hulu to pull their content from Boxee.Â Â Well, I have news for the big networks - thousands of folks are already getting their entertainment delivered on their PCs.Â And with our affordable cables, more and more folks are watching internet content on their TVs.
Last week a company called ZeeVee released a new “internet videoÂ browser” called Zinc that’s pretty cool.Â It’s a free software application that you download and run on your PC and I’ve got to admit I really like it.Â They’ve done a great job of scouring all of the popular internet video sites - Hulu, CNN, YouTube, etc. - and organizing the content.Â They don’t have live streaming internet televisionÂ stations like Zipityzap, but they do offer a lot.Â The Flash-based application makes it easy to navigate with your PC’s remote control or you can use your arrow keys or mouse.
ZeeVee sells an expensive box to connect your PC to your TV.Â But fortunately you’ve discovered our more affordable PC to TV cable solution.Â But that doesn’t mean you can’t use ZeeVee’s new Zinc.Â The world is still waiting for the killer internet television application.Â Zinc is one step closer to what I’ve been looking for.Â Just wait until the big networks find out!
A customer recently returned one of our VGA with Audio specialty PC to TV cables because he couldn’t get it to work.Â With the cable plugged into his Samsung Series3 330 (LN32A330J1DXZA) HDTV the “PC” source was unavailable for selection (commonly described as “greyed out”).Â This is a common problem with Samsung HDTVs because you cannot select a video source that the unit does not detect.
I have often read about this problem with Samsung HDTVs.Â However this case piqued my interest because I have the exact same model Samsung HDTV and the exact same VGA cable and mine works just fine.Â So now I can rule out the possibility that there is something wrong with the HDTV and the cable.Â The problem must be with the PC.Â Just in case, I called Samsung to see if a firmware update was available for this model HDTV.Â It turns out there is not; so our HDTVs must be the same and I can in fact rule out the HDTV and the VGA cable.
To say that something is wrong with the HDTV is not technically correct.Â It’s just that the Samsung HDTV wants to confirm that a PC is in fact connected to it prior to letting a user select the “PC” input mode.Â Other HDTVs may or may not work like this.Â The problem, it turns out, is in how PCs and/or graphics controllers interact with the VGA connector (also known as theÂ d-sub 15 connector).Â Here’s some tips on how to correct the problem; if all else fails, I”ll show you how to fool your Samsung HDTV intoÂ thinkingÂ a PC is attached.
This customer’s particular PC was a Sony brand laptop with an Nvidea graphics adapter.Â So here’s what I recommend:
1. Check that your VGA cable has all 15 pins (3 rows of 5).Â Some cheap cables may not.Â If you find that your VGA cable does not have 15 pins, order a new VGA with Audio PC to TV cable.
2. Update your graphics driver.Â You’ll need to visit your graphics card manufacturer’s website to find, download and install the latest driver.
4. Update your PC BIOS (built-in operating system).Â You’ll have to visit your PC manufacturer’s website and look for a “downloads and/or drivers” link.Â In addition to updating your BIOS, check for any other files that you can update.Â For example, this customer has a Sony VAIO VGN-FS780/W laptop.Â Sony lists the following updates available for download:Â BIOS, FIRMWARE, and Sony Utilities DLL update.Â The description for the DLL update states “This utility updates the SonyÂ® Utilities DLL for the Sony VAIOÂ® to version 6.4.0.06290 and addresses an issue where the computer is unable to use certain monitors.”
Here’s some links to check for drivers and/or software updates:
5. Make sure to reboot your PC after installing new drivers.Â Otherwise they may not take effect.Â Test you cable again.Â If no luck . . .
6. Unfortunately if you’re on this step then your PC is not providing the correct signal to your HDTV.Â So I’ve discovered that what the Samsung HDTV is looking for is a ground signal on pin#10.Â Take a look at the picture below.Â Plug the VGA cable into your HDTV and use a paper clip to short pin #10 to the casing on your VGA connector. As soon as the #10 pin is connected to the ground, the “PC” input option on your HDTV will light up and you will be able to select it.Â Once selected, you can connect the cable to your PC and configure your graphics properties as detailed in our PC to TV cable installation guide.
VGA (d-sub 15) connector
You can take a look at the VGA pinout developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association to see what pins do what.Â VESA was created because ofÂ ”the phenomenal growth of graphics capabilities for personal computers and the resulting proliferation of non-compatible products.Â . . .”Â If the “PC” input is not available for selection on your Samsung HDTV, it is probably because your PC manufacturer has not grounded pin #10, identified as “Sync Ground.”Â Please contact them and ask why?
The VGA standard now supports EDID (Extended Display Identification Data).Â This means that your HDTV can actually “talk” to your PC and identify it’s properties (manufacturer, resolutions supported, etc.)Â You can easily download and run a free software utility that lets you see if your monitor (or HDTV) is communicating with your PC.Â It’s called Monitor Asset Manager and it is made available by EnTech Taiwan.
As always, we’d like to hear from you.Â If you discover any useful tidbits of information please email us and we’ll be sure to pass it along to the next guy:
I am glad to announce the arrival of our first order of S-Video with Audio cables.Â These cables will allow customers to connect PCs with S-Video outputs to televisions that have the very common RCA Composite (yellow, red and white) input jacks.Â The yellow jack carries the video signal and the red and white jacks are for the stereo audio signal (right and left channel, respectively).Â The s-video cable supports standard-definition video and stereo audio.Â Check your PC for an s-video output prior to ordering - not all PCs have s-video outputs.
This new addition rounds out our product line and will allow more folks than ever to connect their PCs to their TVs.Â We are offering our s-video cable in a 15′ length at this time however we do have a 25′ cable on hand for testing.Â If test results are satisfactory we may decide to offer the longer cables later this year.