General Question

edmann13's avatar

What is the best way to turn an old laptop into a media center?

Asked by edmann13 (294points) June 26th, 2010

I have an old laptop lying around. It’s got 2 gigs of ram, dual core 1.8 processor, 160 gig hard drive, runs Vista and has a busted screen. I’d like to hook it up to my 40 inch HDTV, and I’m willing to buy external sound and video hookups for it, as well as wipe the hard drive and change the OS. I’d like to be able to access the internet from it, as well as RSS the torrents for my favorite shows and movies. I have absolutely no idea where to start or what to do. HELP!

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4 Answers

BluRhino's avatar

I use an old laptop in just this fashion. It is wireless to the router in the bedroom office, connected directly to the tv (not hdtv) via s-video cable and audio out to my home stereo. Super cheap and easy. There are any number of pc-hdtv converters if you need one, (most tvs have s-vid connection) and info about this as well. I am running XP, no need for anything more complicated; just a standard internet connection, or whatever you need for your Hulu/Joost/Netflix, etc..Just remember, simpler is better most of the time…

Lightlyseared's avatar

Assuming it’s Vista home premium then you have Windows Media Centre which is a very decent program.

Hook the laptop to the TV (I’m hoping there’s some sort of video out on the laptop). Add a USB TV tuner and more storage and off you go.

Ivan's avatar

Linux MCE, or something similar.

djlagaffe's avatar

Have a look at for a great media center front-end, available on the OS of your taste. And the best – it’s free…

For more adventurous and time intensive ventures have a look at mythtv, best installed with one of the many linux distributions (i.e. on ubuntu with mythbuntu). This however only makes sense if you’re willing to put in a TV card for recording, etc.

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