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Many electronic devices now access the internet for content.
These devices include audio/video and home theater gear such as
Blu-ray Disc players, HDTVs, and digital media players like Roku;
gaming consoles like the Sony Playstation 3 (PS3), Microsoft Xbox
360, and the Nintendo Wii; and personal devices such as the iPod touch and iPad tablet PCs.
Internet content includes
Netflix streaming and various internet
apps to access content such as the
Facebook social media site.
More on that later.
The question is: how do you connect your AV and home theater gear to
Ah, this guide takes you through the steps of setting up a home
network and describes the various ways you can hook up your
high-speed internet service to your electronic devices.
More and more consumer electronic devices now
connect to the internet for streaming video/audio and web-enabled
You need at least 2 Mbps (3 Mbps preferred)
for internet streaming of video
A wired home network is best, but not always
feasible. Even then, you will still need a wireless home work
for Wi-Fi only devices (PS3, PSP, iPhone, iPod touch)
Protect your home network
with encryption; use WEP or WPA/WPA2
Dual-band wireless "n"
network may not deliver the performance as promised.
A Wi-Fi bridge can
be used to bring your Wi-Fi home network to a device that has an
Ethernet port and no built-in Wi-Fi capability
High-Speed Internet Service
First, you must have high-speed internet service. This service
is typically offered by your TV cable provider (e.g., Time Warner, Brighthouse,
Comcast, Cablevision). Typical service for high-speed speed
internet via cable modem runs about $40/month. You can also
get high-speed DSL (digital subscriber line) based service from your
telephone land-line provider (e.g., AT&T) for about $25-$30/month.
If you plan to stream movies over the internet through services like
Netflix, VUDU, Amazon Video on Demand, you will need at least 2
Megabits per second (Mbps) download speed. Greater than 3 Mbps
is preferred. Bandwidth will vary
on time of day. As demand peaks in your area of service, the
available bandwidth will decrease. For us, the peak time is
usually in the evening when most people surf the web.
You can test your
actual bandwidth at the
Editor's Note: "Download" means the data is coming from the internet
web site to your computer or electronic device. "Upload" means the data originates from your
computer or electronic
device and is transferred to the internet web site. For the
everyday consumer, download speed is more important than upload
Modem or DSL Modem: With
either cable or DSL high-speed internet service, you usually get a free modem
rental, like the cable modem device shown here or a DSL modem.
The cable company will connect the cable modem to the cable wall
outlet with a RG-6 coaxial cable, but that is it. (Same goes
for the DSL modem to the phone jack wall outlet with a RJ-11 phone
line.) It is then up to you to set up your home network.
Wired Home Network: Before the advent of wireless network
technology, the only option was to wire your whole house with
Category 5 network cables and home run it to a central point and
attach these network cable runs to a router, which connects your
home network or local area network (LAN) to the
internet as a wide area network (WAN). But now for about the
price of a router, you can buy a wireless router which still offers
Ethernet ports to implement a wired home network in addition to a
Wi-Fi home network.
Wireless Home Network: Most
households these days have opted for wireless networks (Wi-Fi) by
connecting the cable modem or DSL modem to a
wireless router using one of Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 standards "b",
"g", or "n":
IEEE 802.11b: capable of 11
IEEE 802.11g: capable of 54
Mbps (backwards compatible with the "b" standard)
IEEE 802.11n: the newest
standard capable of 108 Mbps and greater range (backwards compatible
with the "b" and "g" standards)
The IEEE 802.11g standard
should be sufficient for the everyday consumer, so this Netgear
WGR614 wireless-g router is sufficient. (This is the exact
wireless router that we use for our Netflix streaming and VUDU
Netgear wireless-g router WGR614 (Wi-Fi 802.11g router)
(support this site: buy for $34.99 @
However, the newest IEEE 802.11n standard offers greater
range and higher bandwidth in case you live in a larger or
multi-story home where radio performance through walls is essential
or you do a lot of bandwidth intensive activities within your home
network such as streaming home movie from your PC to your HDTV.
Netgear WNR2000 wireless-n router (Wi-Fi 802.11n router)
(support this site: buy for $52.99 @
#1: Connect your cable modem or DSL model to your router:
use an Ethernet Category 5 patch cable to connect from the modem's Ethernet port
(there should only be one) to the router's Ethernet port labeled
"WAN" or "internet". The RJ-45 jack has a
clip that works just like a RJ-11 landline phone jack.
#2: When you setup your wireless router, be sure to enable at least WEP
(Wireless Encryption Protection) security. This will limit access to your wireless
home network and your connected computer and equipment through the use of a passphrase. For even better
protection, use the newer and more secure WPA/WPA2.
#3: What about Dual-Band wireless-n routers? A plain vanilla
wireless-n router uses the 2.4 GHz frequency, which is shared with common
wireless devices around your household: neighboring Wi-Fi home
networks, Bluetooth devices such as your cellular headset, cordless
phones, and baby monitors. A dual-band wireless-n router offers the 5 GHz
frequency in addition to the regular 2.4 GHz frequency. Since
the 5 GHz frequency is less common and offers up to 23 free
channels, it is less prone to interference and so promises better
performance, theoretically. However, to take advantage of the
5 GHz frequency, your Wi-Fi enabled devices must also be able to
receive and transmit at 5 GHz as well... hence the fallacy of
dual-band systems. Most wireless-enabled desktop and laptop
computers, Blu-ray Disc players, iPod touch, iPad, and Wi-Fi enabled
devices use the more common 2.4 GHz frequency. Therefore, you
would not be able to reap the benefit of the uncluttered 5 GHz of a
dual band wireless-n router.
Next, consider what your electronics devices offer in terms of
network connectivity. This will determine what options you have
to connect the device to your home network.
Ethernet/LAN (local area network) port: It is common for most
Blu-ray Disc players to gain access to your home network for world
wide web connectivity
and access internet content and apps.
Even models with built-in Wi-Fi will have an Ethernet/LAN port.
The more expensive AV receivers will also have an Ethernet port for firmware upgrades
and internet apps such as Pandora internet radio. Most
computers will have this port built in. If your equipment has
an Ethernet port, then Option 1 wired Ethernet cable and
Option 3a Wi-Fi bridge are available to
you to hook this device to your home network.
An Ethernet port (left), and a Category 5 network patch cable
with a RJ-45 connector (right)
USB port: Many Blu-ray Disc players provide a USB port to
access a USB flash drive to display photos and
videos, and play MP3 files. Some Blu-ray Disc players are "Wi-Fi
ready", meaning you can use Option 3b
proprietary USB Wi-Fi adapter from the manufacturer of that
Blu-ray Disc player to connect
to your home network using Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi: Mid-range Blu-ray Disc players will sport built-in Wi-Fi
capability. For these models, you simply select your Wi-Fi
network from a list of detected Wi-Fi networks, and enter your WEP
or WPA/WPA2 passphrase. This is Option 2 Wi-Fi.
Hooking up Your Audio/Video & Home
Theater Gear to Your Home Network and the Internet
Often times, your cable or DSL modem and router networking equipment may
not be co-located with your AV and home theater gear. And in many
cases, you have AV equipment in multiple locations, perhaps in a family
room, a den/study, the master bedroom, and (if you're fortunate enough)
even a dedicated home theater. The following are the options for
connecting your electronic devices to your home network to access the
Option 1: Wired Ethernet Cables
(Offers the best performance, but leaves Wi-Fi
only devices uncovered)
You can go the old fashion route and use Category 5 network cables
to hook your electronics device to the internet if it has an
Ethernet/LAN port. Performance-wise, you will not beat the
performance of a wired network, as it supports at least 100 Mbps
which is more than fast enough for any application. A wired
network is not prone to radio signal interference. As long as
you keep the cable runs well under 200 feet, the signal will not
degrade performance. Realistically though, it is not always
desirable or feasible to run network cables through an existing
Option 2: Wi-Fi home
network for Wi-Fi enabled devices
(Most desired and convenient option)
Some devices like the iPod touch and iPad simply do not have a
Ethernet or LAN port. Instead, they have Wi-Fi built-in and
that is the only means to access the network.
So even if you can run network cables through your home, you may
still need a Wi-Fi network to enable these devices to connect to
your home network. Choose between a
wireless-n router like the
Netgear WGR614 or the
Netgear WNR2000 shown above.
Given the today's price points, it is a better value to go with the
Option 3a: You have a Wi-Fi home network but the
electronic device only has
an Ethernet port: Use an Wi-Fi Bridge
Let's say you can't run network cables to your device and you have a Wi-Fi
home network. And your device does not have Wi-Fi built-in and
only has an Ethernet port. You can use a Wi-Fi
bridge or range extender device like the
Netgear WN2000RPT Wi-Fi range extender/bridge. This device extends the
range of your existing Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n network to cover additional
your house, a nice feature if you have a large house or areas of your
home with weak signal. But more importantly, it offers four Ethernet ports that can
be used to connect your electronics device using an Ethernet patch
cable. Place one of these Wi-Fi bridges next to your HDTV, Blu-ray Disc player, or
game console and connect them to your device with network patch cables.
The setup is easy and works with any brand Wi-Fi router (e.g., Netgear, Cisco-Linksys,
D-Link) that you may already have in place. You do not have to have the same Wi-Fi equipment brand.
Netgear WN2000RPT Wi-Fi range extender/bridge
(support this site: buy for $69.99 at
Option 3b: Your
have a Wi-Fi
home network but electronic device only has an Ethernet port: use a proprietary
USB Wi-Fi adapter
As an alternative to the Wi-Fi bridge as described above, you could buy an optional USB Wi-Fi adapter
for your Blu-ray Disc player or HDTV if it is deemed "network ready". This is usually a $80 accessory
and has to be made by the same manufacturer. You cannot buy a
third-party USB Wi-Fi adapter for Blu-ray Disc players or HDTVs,
because of compatibility.
Another way to outfit your Blu-ray Disc player with
Wi-Fi is to buy a USB Wi-Fi adapter
(typically a $80 option; support this
site: buy for $53 @
For Blu-ray Disc players, it is usually cheaper to just upgrade to a
Blu-ray Disc player that has built-in Wi-Fi capability for usually
For computers, you do not have use a proprietary USB adapter.
Instead, you can use a third-party
Netgear wireless-n USB adapter for $52.97 from
These third-party adapters have a software driver than is installed
on the computer.
Internet Content and Apps
Once you hook up a high-speed internet connection to a Blu-ray
Disc player, you can enjoy bonus material with BD-Live,
streaming, Pandora internet radio, and other internet apps, depending on
what the Blu-ray Disc player manufacturer has included.
The best part of internet streaming is Netflix's instant streaming
of movies and TV programming. For $8.99/month, you can
subscribe to Netflix's "Unlimited" plan of 1 DVD at-a-time rentals
by mail and unlimited streaming. Read our full review of
You can even try it for
one month free.
Netflix streaming to a
Netflix-capable Blu-ray Disc player
With internet apps, a Blu-ray Disc player becomes a small internet
access device. Depending on the player's manufacturer, you
Amazon Video of Demand (VOD):
choose from 75,000 pay-per-view movies and TV shows streamed over the internet
VUDU: pay-per-view streaming of the latest movies
in 720p or even 1080p high definition
pay-per-view movies streamed over the internet
YouTube: view user-uploaded videos
Pandora internet radio: set up
your own radio "channels" by typing in a song, artist, or genre.
Pandora then streams music that is similar to the original
Flickr: access this free photo sharing site
Picasa: another free photo
facebook: access the ubiquitous social
GoogleTV: was just
announced in October 2010. Watch for this capability to be
incorporated into the 2011 Blu-ray Disc player models.
The internet is not only the proverbial "information superhighway",
but promises to become an "entertainment superhighway" as well.
Internet enabled streaming video/audio and web-based content is the
next logical step towards the convergence of computer and television
technology. An internet-enabled Blu-ray Disc player is not
just an optical media playback device, but also promises to become
the gateway to the "entertainment superhighway". The next
format war is not about media (like Blu-ray Disc vs. HD DVD, or VHS
vs. Betamax), but rather the digital media player platform as the
heart of home entertainment systems. Will it be the
Disc players? Or the gaming consoles like the Sony PS3, Microsoft Xbox
360, and the Nintendo Wii? Or dedicated digital media players
Or maybe the internet-enabled HDTVs?
One thing is clear, everyday consumers may need help setting up a
home network and connecting such electronic devices to the home
network as home entertainment technology evolves. Over the
past 15 years, we have seen home networking technology evolve from
a wired network to various wireless network standards.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you with general awareness and
practical tips to grow your home network and hook up your AV and
home theater gear to take advantage of all the compelling content
that is internet based.
you find this home network guide helpful? Let us know your
thoughts, send an e-mail to us at Staff@TimeForDVD.com.
Tell a friend about this site:
send a link to this
page or this
site to a friend.
Some devices like
the iPod Touch, iPad, and the most recent DVRs through
Direct TV simply do not have a Ethernet or LAN port.