Greening the home theater

Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog.
~Doug Larson

I’ve never been a fan of elaborate and expensive home theater set ups. I’m also single, which means the only person I’m typically entertaining is myself. And so in my own style, I’ve managed to accumulate a pretty minimalist and at least greener home theater stet up. Greener, of course, being the key word. Home theater set ups, like most forms of technology, are not green. In this case, going green means consolidating components and choosing items that will last longer.

1. Chunk the TV. Or make it your computer monitor and throw that out. This, admittedly, works better for people living alone than those who live with others who might want to do something on the TV at the same time you’re dicking about on the computer. But being able to run all of my stuff through one device instead of two is so much easier. It also keeps you from multi-tasking too hard…it’s much more difficult to have the TV running constantly in the background if you require it to also get online.

2. Go with a desktop. Laptops are portable and cool and all, but desktops are easier to get into and repair or expand. Being able to easily remove a side panel to vacuum the cat hair out is lovely and makes my computer last longer. Desktops are also cheaper. Why have a computer for your home theater set up? Well, they play games, DVDs, CDs, and digital copies of all of these. Why own a game console, a DVD player, and a stereo when you can get something that does all three very well?

3. Fuck console gaming. I’m a reluctant console gamer…I do own two consoles (a PS2 and a Wii, which was a gift), but they’re typically gathering dust at any point in time. Why buy consoles when I can play most games on the PC? Why buy new consoles when you can just wait for the current generation to become the older generation and then pick up said console (and all the games) used for much cheaper?

4. Go with digital media. It doesn’t make sense to own hardcopies of music, movies, or games. Sign yourself up for a Steam account and watch for sales. They’ve started selling classic Sega games cheap, and there’s always something that’s at least 50% off. And unlike a console, if your computer becomes obsolete, chances are high you can simply replace a few components and voila! You’re set for another couple years. And again, there’s very little that doesn’t get ported to the PC. Or at least very little I feel like playing that doesn’t get ported.

5. Choose peripherals wisely. My TV-turned-computer-monitor has quality sound without requiring external speakers. And surround sound? We’re going for cheap, green, and minimalist here, not Best On the Block. Sell it on Craigslist. I use a corded keyboard and mouse for the sake of cheap and easy. If you decide to go wireless, be careful…most wireless keyboards and mice are horrible battery-eaters. Spend the money and go for the high-quality wireless keyboards and mice, or stick with the corded ones.

6. Seriously?

My little home theater set up is a 22-inch HDTV monitor, a sturdy desktop in dire need of an overhaul, a corded keyboard and mouse, and two game consoles collecting dust in the closet. It does everything…if I’m at home and not asleep, chances are good you’ll find me parked in front of my computer for one reason or another. I don’t need a separate TV or DVD player or stereo system, or even the game consoles. My desktop does everything but play Okami and Zelda. I need to invent a way to turn a game console into something you can install on a computer like a disk drive. But that’s just too out of my league. I’ll stick with yelling on the internet.

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5 Responses to “Greening the home theater”

  1. Dargon Says:

    The part about putting them on the disk drive, it already exists. Thing is, it’s a tad bit illegal.

    With regards to the post itself, this is one where I cannot help but laugh, one where it is blatently obvious that I care more about my system setup than I do the environment. I have a projector, surround sound, about 5 game consoles, and all kinds of other goodies. That being said, all of it gets used.

    • Actually, for me it’s not environmental, it’s mostly that I’m too fucking cheap and lazy to bother with a more elaborate set up. Having to set up a surround sound system every time I move? No, thanks.

  2. Soyweiser Says:

    Emulators are not illegal if you have the original game disks :D. At least in most countries. (Heck, in most countries downloading stuff isn’t even illegal, uploading is).

    • Dargon Says:

      This is a common misconception. Owning an emulator or ROM, even one of a console or game you already own, is still a violation of copyright law and is still illegal, at least in the United States.

      And downloading copyrighted stuff is also illegal, however it is unlikely that legal action will be taken, as the uploaders are bigger targets. It could be compared to speeding. Going two MPH over the speed limit is technically illegal, and you can be ticketed, but most cops won’t waste their time when there is so much bigger game to catch.

  3. I have to disagree with you on “no reason to own physical copies…” Specifically music, though I could see the argument being made for the others as well. Basically, it comes down to two things: quality, and backups. With music, what you download legally is very likely going to be sub-par in terms of audio quality. Of course, most people don’t care about this as much as I do. I do know of some labels, though, that will sell you FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) downloadables, or even throw them in with the CD purchase.
    The other, backups, I think is fairly self-explanatory to anyone who has ever had a hard-drive crash. Alternatively, you could have a backup drive/server/something where you stash high-quality backups of the music you purchase, but CDs, unless you physically destroy them, aren’t prone to eventual failure (at least not on the same timescale as hard-disks and solid state drives).
    Three (yeah, I added one) is that it’s easier to directly support the producers when you purchase hard-copies (most of the time). It’s much less likely someone will be selling downloads at a concert, and most lesser-known artists don’t even do the digital thing. This can be said for film as well, though independent film seems to be even more of a niche market than independent music.

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