A little over a decade ago, the living room was the most common space for a home computer to occupy. The living room is typically a centralized location where one can best enjoy the perks of computing without distraction, contrary to somewhere else like a noisy and cramped kitchen or a bedroom, which should really only be used for sleeping.
With the rising popularity of affordable laptops, tablets, and other computer “replacements,” the recent presence of computers in living rooms across the country seems lacking compared to ten years ago, when PCs graced many living rooms. Today, people tend to be more on-the-go with their devices, utilizing portable computer replacements while forgetting why the living room is such an ideal place for a PC, both ten years ago and today.
Living Room Entertainment: Bigger Than Ever
Many companies and services have attempted to find success in living room entertainment, ranging from Roku and Apple TV to smart TVs from Panasonic and Sony. These platforms are certainly popular, but none of them have managed to match the convenience of simply connecting a computer to your TV with an HDMI cable. The latter can be cheaper to use and provides considerably more functionality. Living room PCs can still access all of your favorite streaming services, but they add the ability to play physical media as well as live TV and even video games.
Whereas the aforementioned set-top boxes may have found success in the past, the struggle to reign supreme in the living room entertainment market often comes down to this: a cheap computer in 2014 can do a lot more than a cheap computer in 2004. With recent data suggesting that the Internet is more popular than TV, it just makes sense to combine the two.
In addition to basic tasks like browsing the web and composing documents, even mid-range computers can play games at better than console-level quality and can run an assortment of apps, most of which eclipse their tablet counterparts in terms of power and functionality.
Today’s PCs Can Do It All
The multi-functionality of the modern PC is a constant threat to products and services attempting to stake a presence in the living room. Why use a Roku when it’s just as easy to connect your computer to a TV and log in to Netflix? Why use a smart TV when the web-browsing and app-based functionality is no better (and in certain cases much worse) than what your computer can already do? Consumers are asking themselves these questions more and more frequently, and products like Roku and smart TVs are beginning to fail us in terms of providing the features we want and need.
Plus, it’s easier to become familiar with a computer, since the general mouse-and-keyboard interface is one that everybody is already familiar with. But using tricky smart TV remotes or navigating the clunky menus of Roku or Xbox One? Many people would prefer to use the mouse-and-keyboard navigation of a computer. A wireless mouse and keyboard can make navigating an HDMI-connected computer easy and entirely accessible from your couch.
The Problem with Roku and Similar Products
To make a profit, streaming devices like Roku rely on consumers who are unaware that their computers can connect to their TV without hassle. A quality Roku model costs nearly $100; is that really worth it to access the same functionality you can get with a $5 HDMI cable? For most of us, the answer is probably no. Roku and similar products are relying either on convenience or ignorance; either their customers are oblivious to the fact that HDMI cables exist, or they’d rather not have to manually hook up to their PC to the TV every time.
Granted, Apple TV and Chromecast do allow computers to display on a television wirelessly, but users often experience lag with these that makes it impossible to enjoy streaming content or anything beyond reading a web page. As a result, a physical HDMI connection remains the best and most reliable way to access your computer from your television screen, which is just one major perk of having a PC in your living room.
In addition to being able to take advantage of your computer’s many uses on a big screen, having your PC in a living room can also help to ensure family safety so you can always have a watchful eye on what your kids are doing. Plus, if you’re working from home, a living room-based computer will help prevent against the distractions of a kitchen or bedroom, making it an ideal workstation.
Image Credit: Flickr (via Creative Commons)