According to smartSPACE Home Automation, one of the most frequently asked questions about home theatres is whether these systems can connect to a PC. That answer is affirmative, you can absolutely add a desktop or laptop PC connection setup. This enables you to use your big screen as a computer monitor for a more exciting PC-based viewing experience.
Your Theatre Screen Is Your PC Monitor
Your television screen or other home theatre video screen is ideal for connection to a PC, particularly for display of photo slides, presentations and whatever else you choose. This connection is even possible with a Surface tablet. Thanks to today’s high resolution TV screens, your viewing quality may prove as good as on your PC monitor.
Start this connection by checking your video screen or TV for a VGA input. This is a PC monitor input. If this is not present, you can buy a converter cable for VGA to HDMI or USB to HDMI. Another option, if your PC has a DVI output, is to connect your PC to the TV using a DVI to HDMI adapter. Newer PCs typically feature an HDMI output, making direct connection of the PC to the TV easier.
Gamers enjoy the vibrant home theatre experience when your HD or Ultra HD TV has a 1080p 120Hz frame rate input signal.
PC Audio Connection on Your Home Theatre System
Besides viewing your PC screen, you can also enjoy surround sound from your PC to your in-home theatre system. Look for the HDMI port on your PC to connect this to your theatre receiver. This HDMI connection should transmit video and audio signals, making the setup easy, a one-step process for audio and video.
From Vudu, Netflix, a DVD on your PC or other services, your theatre receiver may detect an incoming Dolby Digital bitstream. The receiver decodes this signal and provides a complete surround sound experience. If your PC only has DVI or VGA ports, you can still set up the audio using workarounds.
Network the PC and Theatre Components
A network is an excellent means of connecting your PC to your theatre. This enables you to keep your PC elsewhere in your home, instead of the tethering to your TV and receiver. Through a network you can also connect your smart TV, Blu-ray disc player, media streaming services and multiple home receivers to your WiFi or Ethernet router. You only need to create a home network.
Theatre Room Correction
You can integrate your PC into your theatre as a setup and control tool, if desired. Almost all home theatres feature a Room Correction system, the speaker setup. Each brand has its own name for these setups, such as Anthem Room Correction, MCACC, YPAO, Accu EQ and Audyssey, depending on whether your manufacturer is Anthem AV, Pioneer, Yamaha, Onkyo or Denon/Marantz, as examples.
To enable the sound system’s best settings, these systems use a microphone placement from the primary listening position to analyze output quality. Then, the receiver sets the appropriate speaker levels and crossover points from the speakers to the subwoofer. The result is your best possible sound setup.
Some theatre receivers enable you to use your PC to start and monitor speaker setup. For this, the PC must connect directly to the receiver. As an option, some receivers perform these tasks internally, not requiring direct PC connection. They export data to a USB flash drive for later analysis on your PC.
Control Hub Setup
Your PC can also work as a control hub for the theatre system. This requires your PC, TV and other key components to have RS232, Ethernet and possibly WiFI ports using Internet protocol. You can link these to enable the PC to control settings and functions. In many home theatres, homeowners also have the PC set up to control room lighting, ventilation and temperature as well as the theatre projection and motorized screen.
Using Your PC-Theatre Connection
As you can see, there are many ways you can integrate your PC or Mac computer into your theatre system. In most cases, your best option is to build a specialized theatre PC (HTPC) just for this purpose. This affords complete compatibility and seamless operation with your theatre audio system, gaming, TV and streaming.
Many of the latest TVs used in home theatres are adapting PC functions directly into the video system. They offer built-in streaming, home automation, web browsing and security services without needing a PC connection. Smartphones and tablets are also joining this array of theatre capabilities, enabling content streaming through a network and performing theatre control functions through apps.