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Configure Windows Vista for Use with a Television

I have recently sat up a Windows Vista computer as my entertainment PC. I use this computer to watch my DVD's and television on the Internet. Following the same footstep as I have done with my older Windows XP entertainment PC, I am going to document the Windows Vista configuration so that you can set up your own Windows Vista machine for watching TV.

Changing the "DPI setting"

The first thing to change is the "DPI setting" of your graphics card. This will help makes the system font size larger. It's really handy if you are configuring your entertainment PC on your television.

To proceed, click on the following items in sequence: the Windows logo (the "start" menu) -> "Control Panel" -> "Appearance and Personalization" -> "Ease of Access Center" -> "Make the Compuer easier to see" -> "Change the size of text and icons"

The steps above brings up the "DPI Scaling" dialog box. This dialog box allows you to change the font size By default, "Default Scale (96 DPI) - fit more information" is selected.

Select "Larger scale (120 DPI) - make text more readable". This is 125% of the default size. The bottom of the dialog box shows, "This change will take effect after a restart". Click on the "OK" button. After clicking the "OK" button, Windows Vista asks you whether to "Restart Now" or "Restart Later". Click on "Restart Now".

After restarting Windows Vista, you will noticed that the system fonts are bigger than before. If the fonts are still not big enough for your taste, you can go back to the "DPI Scaling" dialog box again.

This time, under "DPI Scaling", select "Custom DPI...". The "Custom DPI Setting" dialog box will appear. Choose the DPI setting from 100%, 125%, 150%, and 200%. You can also drag the ruler left and right to get custom settings unavailable from the pull-down. 100% is normal. Anything bigger than 100% will make your fonts bigger. Play with the setting until you get a readable font for your television.

Chieh Cheng
Wed, 27 Feb 2008 09:25:55 +0000

Changing the Volume

Normally, when you are using the computer, you'd use the computer's volume control to adjust loudness. But now that your computer is serving as an entertainment PC, it's preferred to use your TV's remote control to adjust volume.

To configure your computer for use with your television, you have to first reduce the volume of your TV to the lowest setting. This prevents the computer setting from blowing out your speakers or your ears while your are configuring it.

Once you've done that, click on the volume control of your entertainment PC. Set its volume to the highest setting. You want to use the highest setting so that the TV can take full advantage of the volume range.

When you are done, use your TV's remote control to adjust the volume to your liking.

Chieh Cheng
Wed, 05 Mar 2008 08:59:07 +0000

Configure the Taskbar

To get more screen space (plus, you don't want to see the Windows Taskbar on the bottom while watching a video), you can tell the Taskbar to hide itself when you move the mouse away from it. To do that, right click on the Taskbar, and select "Properties". These actions bring up the "Taskbar and Start Menu Properties" dialog box. Now, check "Auto-hide the taskbar" and click the "OK" button.

Moving the Taskbar

Many people don't know that you can move the Windows Taskbar to the top, left, or right of the screen. Perhaps there is hardly a need to. But ever since I've been watching TV with my computer, I've found that the Taskbar on the bottom of the screen gets in the way with the playback controls on many online video sites. When you watch the video full-screen, the play/stop control is generally on the bottom of the screen. When you move the mouse there to pause a video, the Taskbar always appears, getting in the way. I've since then learned to move the Taskbar somewhere else.

To move the taskbar, enter the "Taskbar and Start Menu Propertie" dialog box again. This time, uncheck "Lock the taskbar" and click on the "OK" button. Now you can drag the taskbar to any edge of the screen.

Chieh Cheng
Tue, 11 Mar 2008 09:03:16 +0000

Turning Off the Screen Saver

Windows Vista turns on the screen saver by default. You should turn this feature off for your entertainment PC. After all, you wouldn't want it to interrupt the video you are watching, right?

To disable the screen saver, right-click on an empty spot on the desktop. Click on "Personalize" from the pop-up context menu. Then click on "Screen Saver". Now select "(None)" from the pull-down menu. That disables the screen saver.

Next, you need to disable the power setting to prevent the screen from being turned off and to prevent the computer from going to sleep. To do that, click "Change power settings..." in the "Screen Saver Settings" dialog box. "Balance" should be selected. Click on the "Change plan setting" link right below it. Change "Turn off the display:" to "Never". Change "Put the computer to sleep:" to "Never".

Now you have actively disabled the screen saver and the automated power management. Click the "Save change" button to continue. Close the "Select a power plan" by click on the 'X' button in the upper right-hand corner. Finally, click the "OK" button in the "Screen Saver Settings" dialog box to complete the process.

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 14 Mar 2008 06:01:41 +0000

Set-Up Auto-Login

If your entertainment computer is going to sit out in the living room by the TV, there is really no need to boot up to the login screen. It's just more remote control work. Now, if your entertainment computer has only one user account and no password, it probably already logs in for you automatically. On the other hand, if you have only one password-protected account or have multiple accounts, your computer would greet you with the login screen every time.

You'll want to disable it so that you can get the full enjoyment of watching various medias on your television. After all, you wouldn't expect a TV, a DVD player, or other entertainment devices to be password-protected, would you? To enable auto-login on Windows Vista, follow the instruction presented in the "Auto-Login to Windows XP" article. Although that article is written for Windows XP, its instruction works wonderfully on Windows Vista as well.

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 14 Mar 2008 08:05:54 +0000

Your entertainment PC is going to be located by the TV in the living room. So managing it may not be the easiest thing; nobody like to manage a computer sitting in front of the TV. The cure for this is, of course, to manage the computer remotely. One of the best tool to use is the Remote Desktop that comes with Windows Vista. After enabling Remote Desktop, you can use the Remote Desktop Connection client software from any networked computer to log in and use your entertainment PC as if you are sitting right there. To learn how to set-up Remote Desktop, take a look at the "What to do with a notebook that has a dead LCD?" article.

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 23 May 2008 07:42:27 +0000

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