Convert your smartphone or tablet into a media player
The traditional way of enjoying your movies on your TV is by using a DVD/Blu-Ray player, home theatre system or by plugging in a USB drive. However, if you don't have any of these options, you could use a compatible phone or tablet as a TV-connected media player.
What you need
A decently powerful smartphone or tablet capable of HD video playback and HDMI output. You will need to get the appropriate cable to connect your device to your TV; Apple HDMI adapter in case of iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone, and micro HDMI to HDMI or mini HDMI to HDMI in case of many other smartphones and tablets.
Playback with wires
Tablets and smartphones connected to a TV via HDMI usually output in full HD resolution along with audio. Install a third party media player that is capable of working with different video formats — MXplayer on Android and PlayerXtreme on iOS. Now, simply play the media file and view it on the connected television.
Playback without wires
If you have one of the newer internet-connected smart TVs, chances are that it is DLNA compatible. DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is a standard that allows interoperability between different multimedia devices.
You can use a free app to stream content using DLNA technology — just make sure that the TV and your smartphone /tablet are connected to the same network. There are various free apps available on Android (PlayTo and Skifta are some good options), iOS (Media: Connect, SmartStor Fusion) and BlackBerry (EnefceDMS) that will let you stream video to your TV.
Use your PC as a media server for your home
One of the most useful ways to repurpose an old desktop is to turn it into a media server or network backup for all the computer users in your home. The advantages are that you'll have a central store for all the data that you don't want cluttering up your hard drive, you can share data with family members and take a regular backup as well.
What you need
Any old desktop in working condition with a decent specification — even a Pentium or old dual core with 1GB RAM will do. A desktop is preferred because you will need to add in more hard drive space. Add in at least a 2 Terabyte hard drive to begin with ( 8,000) and a USB Wi-Fi dongle ( 800) in case you want to keep it out of sight. You also need some free & open source software for the PC called Nas4Free. Get it from http:// wiki.nas4free.org.
The exact steps are too long to mention here, but the Nas4Free webpage provides comprehensive how-to info. They also have an active user community at http://forums.nas4free.org.
Use a digital camera for surveillance or as a webcam
A few digital cameras have webcam function built in — usually found in connectivity settings. To use the camera like a webcam, connect it to the computer using the supplied USB cable and turn on the webcam function.
Once done, the camera functions like any other webcam, which can be used for video calls over Skype (or others). You could also use software called ExtraWeb-Cam ($10 from www.extrawebcam.com) which lets you use many different Canon digital cameras as a webcam. Any regular webcam can also be set up for remote surveillance.
Head to www.yawcam .com and download the free software. Yawcam lets you use a connected camera for live video streaming, to take snapshots at pre-defined intervals or use motion detection to automatically upload the photographs to a server. For added security, the software can even be password protected and hidden from view so that no one tampers with the recording/live stream.
Use any web browser on any computer to manage your Android phone
With a free app called AirDroid, you can manage your phone on any computer through a web browser — as long as both the phone and the computer are connected to the same
Launch the app, open the web browser on your computer and put http://web.airdroid.com in the address bar. Enter the password displayed on your phone and you're connected. The browser window will instantly show up various details about your phone; contacts, apps, storage and multimedia files.
You can also use the browser to send/receive text messages , transfer files from the phone, search for and install/uninstall apps, change ringtones or take a screenshot of your phone's current display.
Use your iOS or Android device as a car diagnostic tool
Every passenger car manufactured after 1996 has an OBD (On Board Diagnostics) port located somewhere under the dashboard . Car workshops usually have expensive equipment that connects to the car's computers via this port, to gather information about the cars behaviour.
However, you can convert your Android or iOS device into the perfect in-car diagnostic tool with a Kiwi tool from PLX Devices ($99 onwards + shipping costs from www.plxdevices.com) and a compatible app like Dash Command.
How it works
The hardware from PLX Devices (Bluetooth version for Android, Wi-Fi version for iOS) provides a wireless connection from your car's OBD port to your phone. The app then decodes the data to display information like mileage, corrected speed and rpm, engine load, performance data and faults if any. The amount of information on offer varies according to the car, but it's still a great tool for any car enthusiast.