Computer to HDTV Sound Options

“I have read your guide on how to use an HDTV as a computer monitor and found it to be very informative. There is however one detail I am unsure of. This is Sound. If I were to plug my PC video card to my HDTV via a DVI/HDMI cable I would get pure digital visual but no audio correct? But if I were to plug it in via HDMI/HDMI from video card to HDTV would I get audio? Or do i have to buy a sound card with HDMI out to get surround sound?”
There are a several different ways to get audio passed from your PC to your HDTV. Depending on what hardware you have available, you may be limited to stereo audio, with a few cases where you can also get surround sound.

AMD Live! Home Cinema Changes Home Theather PC Market

MSI AMD Live! Home Cinema Motherboard and Soundcard The home theater PC market has been rather dull for several years. Sure you can get a sound card with 7.1 surround sound, but they’ve generally been noisier than I’d want in my own home theater. You can purchase video cards that output to an HDTV and support HDCP, but the experience hasn’t been on par with using home theater components. At Computex 2008, AMD is showing off a couple of new boards from MSI that change the game in important fundamental ways.

Media Center Alternatives

“I have Windows XP and don’t want to buy a new operating system to get Media Center functionality. What are the best alternatives to Windows Media Center Edition that I can install on my existing operating system?”
Adding the ability to record television on your computer, browse photos and videos from the comfort of your couch, and quickly integrate your digital music library with your home theater is one of the more useful advances in computing over the last several years. I personally prefer Windows Media Center Edition for all my PC home theater integration, because it integrates with my Xbox 360 (which means I don’t need a PC in my living room) and because it is the most elegant solution on the market. I can certainly understand not wanting to spend additional money on a new operating system just to add Media Center-like functionality to an existing computer. I continue to recommend two alternatives to Windows Media Center Edition as the best options for integrating with Windows.

TVTonic

I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways to extend my Media Center. jkOnTheRun tipped me off to TVTonic over the weekend. It’s by far the best looking interface for adding subscription audio and video content from RSS feeds to Media Center. The interface supports any audio or video format you can play in either Windows Media Player or QuickTime, which covers almost everything. A nice list of pre-populated channel selections is included for browsing, although you need to subscribe to get any of the actual videos. Add your own favorites to the list of channels, or make your own video channel and add it to the collection.

DVRMSToolbox

Many solutions attempt to make it easy to manage the video recording from Windows Media Center Edition, but all fall short in some small way. MyTV ToGo could score the best overall app rating if they’d create a watched folders option for outputting converted files automatically. In the meantime, the latest release of DVRMSToolbox gets my vote for best conversion tool, in spite of lacking an option to convert files for iPod or PSP playback. Other features make this forgivable. The key combination is support for converting files to either MPEG-2 or WMV while stripping commercials in the process. You end up with a smaller file and no commercials at the same time, which is a win for Media Center users. The other key feature is background processing and automation, which makes setting up overnight conversions a no-brainer for those of us who want our media ready to go while we are sleeping. Free also has a certain ring to it, although I’d gladly pay for the same feature set in a version of MyTV ToGo, because the interface is well worth the price. [Windows XP $0.00]