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Posted on Dec 9, 2019 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 74 – PCs on the big screen, the end of Windows 7 & more

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Top Windows Tutorials
TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 74

Hi, welcome to the November 2019 TWT Newsletter!

Here in the Northern Hemisphere the weather has got colder and the days shorter. The perfect time to stay snuggled up and spend some time on your computer! This month we will be talking about using your PC on the big screen in your living room. Expanding your Windows games and apps onto your telly has never been easier, or more fun! 

In this months issue:-

Bringing the PC into the living room
Tip of the Month – Save apps to secondary drives
Free Utility of the Month – Sound Keeper
Microsoft store app of the month – Dolby Access
Windows 7 users – You have two months left!

 

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Bringing the PC into the living room

Is your Windows PC still stuffed away in a back bedroom or office, used only for writing letters, homework and web surfing? Why not give it a new lease of life and bring it into the living room and onto the big screen TV? 

In the past, PC monitors and television sets were somewhat different from one another. PCs have been high definition before most people knew what high definition was, and displaying your Windows PC on an old tube television was difficult and often disappointing. Now in the era of flat screen HDTVs, connecting your PC to your living room TV is easy and, especially if you have a laptop PC, a lot of fun too. Simply use a HDMI cable from your PCs graphics card or HDMI output, switch your TV to the relevant HDMI input and you’re away. Almost every PC made in the last decade now offers HDMI output options.

That’s not all, if you’re lucky enough to have a surround sound/home theatre system, then most PCs will connect to that too, again, simply by using HDMI. Once connected to your home theatre, you only need to right click the speaker icon in the notification area and choose the appropriate speaker configuration.

So, now you know how you can bring the PC into the living room, the next question is why would you want to? Turns out there are several good reasons…

Games – Windows PCs have a selection of games that span decades. The kind of collection that would make any games console owner jealous. Simply plug in any Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller and you can enjoy a huge library of games at all price points (including free!). 

There are games for all ages and abilities too. Why not get the whole family around the TV screen for a puzzle solving/adventure title? Solving the puzzles together can be fun, while younger children can help by moving the character with a mouse or track ball. Some of our favourite adventure titles include Loom  and Secret of Monkey Island.

Don’t worry if your PC isn’t the fastest on the block, these games work on even older or slower PCs just fine.

Movies – Nexflix, Amazon Prime, even good old DVDs can all be played on your Windows PC when loaded with the right software. To play Netflix, use the app in the Windows store. For Amazon Prime, use your web browser or follow this guide. To play DVDs, assuming your PC has the required optical drive, try VLC Media Player.

A Windows PC wouldn’t be our first choice for playing movies on a big screen. Windows was never really designed for this and apart from it being rather fiddly to work the controls with a mouse while sat on your couch, results are usually not as good as can be expected with a dedicated media playback device. Nevertheless, if you’re in a pinch and don’t have a smart TV or other device, your laptop makes a good stand in.

Music – Smartphones may have taken over as the preferred music playback device for many people these days, but that doesn’t mean Windows can’t still bust a groove with the best of them. With huge amounts of storage space, Windows PCs can comfortably store the entire collections of even the most dedicated audiophiles. Making playlists is faster and easier than on smartphone and there are even apps that let you DJ using your PC. 

Add in a media player with visualisations, like the venerable Windows Media Player or Winamp and you can put on a light show for your house party.

Prefer to stream your music these days? No problem, all the most popular streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer work just great on Windows too.

Pictures – Of course, your Windows PC can help you show off your holiday slides on the big screen TV. Naturally, if you’ve been taking movies as well as pictures on your travels, Windows can show those too. Remember, always hold your phone horizontally when making a movie!

Presentations – Got a big presentation coming up at school or work? Why not do a practise run using the big screen TV? If your presentation to the board keeps the children amused, you might just be on to a winner!

Keeping in touch – Most of us are familiar with webcams and chatting online, but how about combining your webcam with your living room TV? This is a fun way to get the whole family in on a video call to friends and relatives in far away places. 

As you can see, there are all sorts of ways that your PC can take advantage of the big screen and sound of modern living rooms. Make the most of your investment in PC hardware and home entertainment by bringing the two together, for most modern PCs, literally all you need is a HDMI cable to get started.

 

Tip of the Month – Save apps to secondary drives

The new Microsoft Store apps are designed to be as easy to use as possible, and that means fast, no hassle installation.

What do you do though if you want to download new apps and you have run out of space on your main hard drive? In that case, you can send apps to your secondary drive (assuming you have one, of course!) by following these steps.

Open the settings app (the gear icon on the left Start menu) then click on “System”.

From the options on the left, choose “Storage”. 

Under “More storage settings” choose “Change where new content is saved”. You can then specify exactly where new apps (and other files) are saved to.

 

Free Utility of the Month – Sound Keeper

Here’s a utility for those of you lucky enough to have your PCs permanently connected to a home theatre or surround sound system. When Windows connects to a system like this and it is not outputting any sound, the receiver has a habit of going to ‘sleep’ or into power saving mode. This can mean that some sounds, like beeps or alerts, or even the first few seconds of music or sound, can be lost while the amp wakes up again.

Sound Keeper is a handy little tool that sends a “silent stream” of audio to the receiver, letting it know the PC is still there and might need it again at a split seconds notice.

Unlike other similar apps, this one works just fine on Windows 10 and doesn’t eat up lots of cpu (processing) time.

Sound Keeper can be downloaded by visiting this page.

 

Microsoft store app of the month – Dolby Access

Lucky enough to own a Dobly Atmos home theatre system or a Dolby Atmos headset? If so, enable all of its features in your Windows 10 PC using this handy little app.

While the app is free for users of Home Theatre setups, those of you using Dolby Atmos headphones will need to shell out in order to activate the apps functionality.

Check out the Dolby Access app by visiting the page here. 

 

Windows 7 users – You have two months left!

The end of another era in the history of Microsoft Windows is upon us as Windows 7 officially reaches the end of its life on January the 14th, 2020. After this time, you can continue to use the operating system, but since it will receive no more security updates, it will not be advisable to use it on any internet connected computer. 

The good news is that Windows 10’s system requirements are not that different to Windows 7 and so many machines can be relatively painlessly upgraded. If you plan to do this yourself, be sure to take a full backup (you can use software such as Macrium Reflect to do this). If in doubt, call on the services of a local IT professional.

If you’ve been putting off updating your system, chances are you’re a fan of Windows 7 and you have some questions about upgrading. We have compiled a list of some frequently asked questions below, hopefully this will help.

You say there will be “no more security updates”, but maybe Microsoft fixed all the bugs already? – Very unlikely. Operating systems and their included apps consist of millions of lines of code, code that interacts with the lowest level parts of your PCs hardware. Software bugs, or mistakes, will continue to surface long after Microsoft pull the plug on support and will be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

Will I lose all my apps and data when I upgrade? – Not if you remember to back up! Take a full backup of your PC before you start any upgrade. If you’re upgrading from Windows 7 64 bit to Windows 10 64 bit then in most cases you can keep your compatible apps and data. If you’re upgrading from Windows 7 32 bit to Windows 10 64 bit then you will have to reinstall all your apps and copy your data from your backup.

Will all my software and hardware still work? – Invariably there will be some apps and some much loved old hardware that works just fine on Windows 7 that won’t work on Windows 10, however this has been the exception rather than the rule. Out of all the hardware that we regularly use, only an older sound card has since stopped working after we made the transition to Windows 10.

If its software or hardware you rely on, check with the manufacturer on their website to confirm Windows 10 compatibility. You can also try the Windows Update Assistant app which can scan your computer and knows about many different compatible and incompatible programs and devices.

I can’t upgrade my Windows 7 PC to Windows 10, should I throw it away? – Not necessarily. Older PCs make excellent computers for kids bedrooms or anywhere that an internet connection isn’t required or desirable. A Windows 7 PC set up like this can be used for games and homework and will be relatively safe to use (malware could still be introduced by things like memory sticks, for instance, though this is a low risk) for decades to come.

If you do have to dispose of an old PC, do so responsibly. Check for local electrical recycling centres who, in most countries, can recycle your old electrical goods for free.

What happened to the free upgrade? – Unfortunately, this offer ended some time ago.

It doesn’t seem that long ago since we were saying farewell to the venerable Windows XP! Windows 7 was perfect for desktop computers. It improved on Windows XP in almost every way and unlike Windows 8 and 10 that followed it, wasn’t anywhere near as divisive. We’ll be raising a toast to Windows 7 come January the 14th and just like with Windows XP, many users will no doubt be using it after the deadline, in spite of the risks.

That concludes the newsletter for November. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th December 2019 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows 7,  Windows 8 or Windows 10. We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page.  If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!

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