How do you view your digital photos? I guess the most popular answer would be on the computer monitors. Some get stored and displayed on digital photo frames. Some are stored in portable media player devices. All of these seem to have something lacking compared to viewing the photos on a large screen HDTV.

Since computer monitors are mostly designed for personal use at close distance, the screens are rarely as large as the popular HDTV. I have a 24″ wide-screen monitor I considered it pretty good. However it pales when compared to the 47″ HDTV sitting in the next room. The TV just seem to have better pictures: brightness, contrast, color saturation. When I want to show photos to a few people, it gets boring soon on a computer monitor because people are in awkward position. However the fun can certainly last longer when people sit comfortably in sofa watching a large screen TV.

So how exactly can people view photos on high definition TV? There are many options.

Buy a better TV

The latest high end models come with USB 2.0 ports, which let you plug in a USB flash drive to play photos and videos. Some support the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) functionalities that allows your TV to talk directly to a computer on the same network to display photos and play videos. Samsung 7-series HDTVs such as Samsung LN46A750 46-Inch have both USB port and the DLNA.

Connect a computer to HDTV

If you have a computer lying around, you can easily connect it to a HDTV. When I was shopping for my latest TV last year, I found most of them have a PC (DVI or VGA) input along with HDMI ports.  You can also get wireless keyboard and mouse to make navigating on your TV easier.

Use a media server, media streamer, or media center extender

A media server or streamer connects to your TV and talk to your computer via wired or wireless network. It pulls content from your computer and display them on the TV. One great example of such device is Apple TV. You can view photos stored on your computer or on your Flickr or MobileMe accounts. Apple TV is a not very pricey but charging $100 premium for 120GB more storage ($229.00 for 40GB and 329.00 for 160GB) is just insane.

There are quite a few other options. Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player allows you to play multimedia content directly from USB external hard drives. Linksys Media Center Extender or HP X280N MediaSmart Connect work with Microsoft Media Center enabled PCs to deliver the contents to your TV.

Use game consoles

If you already have game consoles such as XBOX360 or PS3, you should be able to play photo slide-shows without any of the above. The Wii can do it but the best resolution you can get is 480 lines of vertical resolution (NTSC) – it is not high definition.

Burn photos on blue-ray disks as slideshow videos

To get high definition photos on the TV, DVD is not sufficient because the consumer grade stuff can only get you a resolution of 720×480 (NTSC) or 720×576 (PAL). It should be possible to make a blue-ray slide-show videos but blue-ray burners are still quite expensive. You would also need a blue-ray player for your TV. This just isn’t very practical for casual photo viewing but may be a good option if you want to showcase your best photos.

Blue-ray players with flash card supports

Many Panosonic blue-ray players have a SD card slot that makes it very easy to playback JPEF still photos at full HD resolution (1920×1080). 

Other options?

There could be more options but I don’t know. You are certainly welcome to share yours. I currently use a old computer since I also watch some Internet TV programs that are not supported by other options.

Posted in: Tips and Techniques on January 18th, 2009. Trackback URI
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