Push content from your PC to your TV with QWaves Quicklinks TV. We show you how.

TV used to be simple. You switched it on, chose a channel and, if you couldn’t immediately find an item of interest, consulted the printed or onscreen programme guide.

These days, catch-up TV and the prevalence of programmes available over the web mean schedules are out the window. Instead, we now consume TV and video in a fragmented way – and not necessarily on a TV screen. In our recent Broadband Survey, 46 percent of readers told us they routinely use their web connection for watching BBC iPlayer programmes.

With such a clear desire for TV on demand, several big names are looking to close the TV-on-the-web loop and offer access to online content on your TV. Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 owners can already enjoy iPlayer, ITV and 4oD services on their consoles. Now dedicated boxes are launching that allow more of the web to be viewable on a large-screen TV.

The Google TV and the Boxee Box went on sale in the US in late 2010 and are set to arrive in the UK soon (you can register your interest in the former at googletv.com, but a launch date has not yet been set). The Google TV platform has been built into Sony TVs and a Logitech set-top box. Viewers can search for and watch online and terrestrial programmes, stream or download films, browse the web and listen to internet radio.

The £185 Boxee Box, meanwhile, streams content from a PC to a TV using a Wi-Fi or an HDMI connection.

Without these devices, online services restrict you to watching TV shows on your PC or laptop, which often isn’t situated in the main TV-watching room. You could use a VGA or S-Video cable to connect your machine to your TV, but this can be hasslesome for simply watching the latest episode of ‘EastEnders’.

On-demand services from Virgin and BT Vision offer a range of popular films and TV shows, which you can watch when it suits you. However, they can be expensive. An easier option is to push content from your PC to the TV. Media hard drives that connect to a TV are one option, but they generally allow you to view programmes you’ve already recorded rather than live broadcasts.

An alternative is the £75 QWaves Quicklinks TV, which we demonstrate in the following workshop. It lets you stream content from the web to your TV, and you can even continue using the PC.

Step 1. Install the QWaves software supplied with the kit. You need at least a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor or equivalent and 1GB of RAM for fullscreen HD playback. You’ll be able to watch video from websites in standard definition provided that you have at least a 1.6GHz single-core processor and 1GB of RAM.

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Step 2. Once the installation is complete, a grey icon will appear in the System Tray. Plug the supplied PC adaptor into a USB port; the icon will turn red and a green LED on the adaptor will light up. Position the adaptor dock close to the TV. Ensure the USB stick is positioned upright. It’s the antenna.

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Push content from your PC to your TV with QWaves Quicklinks TV. We show you how.

Step 3. Now decide how you plan to connect the TV to the adaptor dock. If you’re using the HDMI port (an HDMI cable is bundled), you’ll be able to play video and audio through your TV. However, the VGA port carries video only; sound will come through your laptop’s speakers. Connect the dock to your TV, and then to a power socket.

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Step 4. The System Tray icon will now turn green. Turn on your TV and set it to display the input from your HDMI or VGA connection. Whatever is on your laptop screen will now appear on the TV. For best performance, make sure your laptop is within the line of sight of the dock and the two are no more than 10ft apart.

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Step 5. To watch video files, launch a media player and open the file. Alternatively, browse to a TV catch-up service. Use fullscreen mode and, using the DisplayLink Device icon, ensure the ‘Optimize for video’ option is selected. QWaves recommends ‘Enable hardware acceleration’ is not selected in Flash Player.

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Step 6. By default, the device is in Mirror mode, displaying on the TV exactly what’s on your PC screen. Extend mode lets you display specific content on the TV and continue using the PC for another task. To switch to Extend mode, click the DisplayLink Device icon in the System Tray and select Extend.

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Broadband Advisor
Digital Home Advisor