SanDisk's Photo Album lets you play shows on the TV directly from your memory card. Courtesy of SanDisk.
Epson's Livingstation TV sets have built-in card slots, a printer, and a CD-R/RW drive.
Most digital cameras have a video out connection and an AV cable.
Some cameras include a remote control so you can advance through images, rotate and zoom them.
Sony and others make small portable DVD player that let you take your slide shows on the road.
Notebooks with DVD drives are ideal platforms from which to present slide shows to small groups.
The Xbox streams recorded television, videos, movies, music, and photos from a PC to a TV screen.
Sony's Location Free Portable Broadband TV.
A wireless router. Courtesy of Linksys.
A wireless access point. Courtesy of Linksys.
Where is the best place to show your images? The living or family room is where friends and family are used to gathering, and that's where the largest TV is usually located. If you give your show on that big screen it's a much more pleasant atmosphere than gathering around a camera's monitor. The TV is perfect for slide shows, taking the place of the film era's slide projector.
Direct from the Card
Your camera's monitor lets you automatically scroll through the images you've taken—essentially giving you or a few others a personal slide show. For a larger audience, you can give the same unedited show using a cable that came with the camera to connect it to the TV. This is a great way to preview your photos or share them with others. You can even record your slide show on a digital video recorder and add narration as it plays. The only downside of these shows is that the image quality on many TV sets is far below that of a computer screen.
Some cameras let you hide selected photos so they aren't displayed during the show. Many point and shoot models also let you remove red-eye and make other adjustments to images then display a slide show with transitions, special effects, and even music. Some cameras even come with a remote control so you can advance through images, rotate and zoom them. Some also have AC adapters so you don't run down your batteries.
Because displaying images directly from the camera is so popular, there are card readers that can be plugged into the TV so you can give slide shows directly from your camera's memory card. Some DVD players and TV sets also have built-in card slots so you don't need a separate device. One advantage of these approaches over just playing photos back from the camera is that the device is plugged into the wall so your camera batteries won't die. These devices also have remote controls so you can run shows from the comfort of the couch. Other things they may do include rotating, cropping, panning, and zooming photos and adding a background. The downside is that the device may not support all of the image formats supported by your camera. Be sure to read the specs carefully. At least your camera will play back what it captures.
One problem with giving slide shows directly from the camera or card is that it only works with photos that are currently on a memory card. The chances are that last year's white water rafting trip photos no longer are. However, if you follow folder and file naming conventions, you can edit images on your computer, copy them back to the card, and show a more polished version.
Using DVD Discs
With DVD players falling below $50, it's time to add one to your home entertainment system if you don't already have one. DVD discs that you can burn on your computer have the capacity needed to store very high quality slide shows. To create one of these shows you use a slide show program (discussed later) that will convert it to a format that can be played on the TV and then burn it to a DVD disc. (You can also use Video CD (VCD) and Super Video CD (SVCD) but the quality of images displayed in these two formats is so much poorer than those in DVD format you may be disappointed. If all you have is a CD burner you might put a show together with just a few images, burn the disc, and try playing it before you invest much time.)
One rapidly emerging area to watch is game machines. Xbox Music Mixer was one of the first "games" to let you download photos, movies and music from the PC to the Xbox and create slide shows backed up by a sound track of your favorite music. You can expect many more such features to spread through the industry. The Sony PlayStation 3 plays the latest Blu-ray Discs (BD) that can store 25GB and 50GB.
An emerging way to connect a computer to the TV is a home media server that plugs into a TV or home entertainment system and communicates with other devices on the home WiFi network. When considering one of these devices be sure to read reviews and check what image file formats they support.
All support JPEG, but it can get sketchy with TIF, RAW, and Photoshop files.
You can only use a home media server in a space covered by an existing network. Such a network can be connected using wires—an Ethernet network, but most systems are wireless, with signals broadcast through the air up to about 150 feet indoors. Because this technology is wireless you have
the freedom to roam about the house, or even the yard, and still maintain access to the Internet and other devices on the network including wireless home entertainment devices. All of the new and forthcoming home wireless network devices use a standard called 802.11. There are currently a number
of flavors of 802.11 that you'll encounter with the latest and fastest being 802.11g. These devices adhere to the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard, which works with WiFi 802.11b/g networking. This allows them to communicate with each other as well as a WiFi network and other entertainment devices in the home.
To create a wireless home entertainment network, you start with the components needed for any WiFi network, then add the media server:
- A router connects to the cable modem or other device you use to access the
Internet. The router has cable connectors you use to plug in nearby computers. You can also plug in a wireless access point although some newer units combine these two functions into a "wireless router".
- Wireless access points have rabbit ear antennas because they send and receive signals from remote parts of the network. In some systems these are separate units that plug into the router, in other systems they are combined with the router into a single unit.
- Wireless network adapters are used for each component on the network including computers, printers, hard disks, and media servers. They come in many forms including cards that fit slots or devices that plug into USB or FireWire connectors. Many new computers and even hand held devices have WiFi built in.
- A media server connects to the TV by cable, and connects to the network wirelessly so the TV can access applications and files stored on the computer. Although others have tried and failed to make this device popular, the Apple TV media server may succeed because it draws its movie and TV show content from the extremely popular iTunes, and displays digital photos from
iPhoto on a Mac or Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Album on a Windows PC. The images are beautiful because the system requires an enhanceddefinition or high-definition widescreen TV. Using the included remote control, you can browse your images from up to 30 feet away. Apple TV also has a 40GB hard drive to store up to 50 hours of video, 9,000 songs, and thousands of high-resolution photos and is capable of delivering high-definition 720p output. With real competition heating up, expect similar products from Sony, Microsoft and other leading vendors in this area.
Apple TV™ (above,right) wirelessly connects your TV to iTunes® content on your Mac® or PC so you can display movies, TV shows, music, photos and podcasts. Apple TV's interface (right) lets you browse and view your collection of digital media from across the room using the Apple Remote.