Home Theater: How to get Audio Output from HDMI

With one quick, affordable modification, you can get audio output from a Roku, Apple TV, Blue Ray player, PlayStation 4, Xbox, or really anything that you can plug into your TV.  This modification requires no tools, no cutting, no splicing, and won't even void the warranty of your home theater equipment.

Smart TV add-on devices, like the Roku, are a great way to add modern features to an older TV.  With the Roku, Apple TV, and many other devices, all you have to do is plug the device into the HDMI port of the television and you can cancel your cable in favor of Netflix, Vudu, Crackle, and any other subscription TV streaming service you and can think of.  The Roku, despite its low price-tag, even has apps (subscription based) for professional sports games.

One problem with devices like the Roku is that they provide audio output only through the HDMI cable.  Even if you love your TV, many home theater users prefer to control their audio signal through their soundbar or other audio system.  By getting the audio output directly from the HDMI signal and bypassing the television entirely, you reduce the number of remote controls you need and reduce your risk of "double-amping" your speakers and damaging your audio equipment permanently.

To get audio output from any HDMI capable device, simply purchase an HDMI audio extractor.  The HDMI audio extractor, sometimes available under different names, has an HDMI input (from the Roku), and HDMI output (to the TV), and an audio output (to the soundbar or audio system).  Now you can place the HDMI audio extractor between your device and the TV's HDMI port and you'll get nice, clean audio output, ready to be plugged into your audio system.

ViewHD HDMI Audio Extractor
There are many different HDMI audio extractors available at many price points.  Some are dirt cheap at $15 and feature only a skinny mini-plug for output, while others range over $100 and appear ready for inclusion in a professional television studio.  Ultimately, you'll have to look at the features that you want and choose your product based off of that.  We recommend the ViewHD HDMI Audio Extractor.  The ViewHD device includes basic Right Left two channel audio output, but also includes a high quality 5.1 Surround Sound SPDIF audio output.  We've seen the ViewHD device for around $30 consistently.

(ViewHD makes some more expensive models with multiple inputs and outputs, but we don't recommend those because the point is to add direct audio output to your affordable Roku device, not add another remote and another layer of complication to your home theater.)

Black Friday Deal: AVG Anti-Virus and Tech Support for a Year for Under $25

The Deal

This is the best deal you're likely to see on anti-virus all year, especially with tech support included!

This is a special offer for PomptonTech Readers: AVG anti-virus is running their best sale of the year, 40% off of 2 of their best products!  It's no secret that AVG's anti-virus products are some of the most powerful in the world.  AVG is one of my favorite anti-virus products because it is so simple for the average person to use and requires no technical knowledge or training to run a virus scan.  That's why I've installed AVG for countless clients, including businesses.

What You Get

This discount is so big that AVG is only offering it for 2 of their products and only for the next week or so.  If you're interested grab it quick.  The 2 products covered are AVG's Anti-Virus and AVG Internet Security.  The AVG Anti-Virus product is great and includes a silent, background security update every 2 hours (other free products only update once a day).

AVG Anti-Virus also helps protect you from spammy links on Facebook and Twitter, something most anti-viruses don't bother with.

If you buy anything online, skip AVG Anti-Virus and go with their ultra-powerful AVG Internet-Security product.  Only AVG's Internet Security provides an enhanced firewall, shopping protection, and anti-spam technology.

Not convinced?  Check out AVG's product comparison and pricing through this link.

The Guarantee

Both AVG Anti-Virus products come with a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee (no questions asked!).

Free Tech Support

Somewhat ridiculously, free 24/7 (365) Phone and Web tech support is included with your tiny, $24.99 purchase for an entire year.  That's pretty crazy.  As in, you can literally get a human on the phone to help with your virus problem if the anti-virus doesn't do the trick.  That's pretty nifty for $24.99

Save 40% right now: Get Black Friday Deal from AVG ALL WEEKEND LONG!

How to Use the Chrome Beta Channel

Logo used from the start of the Chrome project...
Logo used from the start of the Chrome project until March 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Internet search provider Google now provides a free browser which can be used to surf the Internet.  That browser, called Chrome, is now the Operating System that runs Google's Chromebook laptops.  Like any company, Google is always seeking to improve and so are constantly adding new features to their Chrome product.  These features are tested out early through a part of the software called the "Beta Channel."  Another Channel, called the "Developer Channel" is more experimental and more likely to have software bugs (so it isn't recommended).

To become a part of Google Chrome's Beta-Testing program:

  1. Click the status area where your account picture appears.
  2. From the menu, select Settings.
  3. In the Settings, select About Chrome OS.
  4. This area will tell you what version of Chrome you are running.  *Here can choose to join the Beta Channel (or the Developer Channel if you're very brave).  

*You may need to click something like "More Info" to see the Channel options.

How to Create an Ergonomic Workspace

The average worker spends so much time in front of a computer that it is important that their workspace is ergonomic.  If you workspace is not ergonomic, you could be injured simply as a result of sitting!

Steps to Creating an Ergonomic Workspace:
  1. Create lumbar support for your back with a cushion or a rolled up towel if you do not have anything else.  Place that lumbar support between the small of your back and the chair.
  2. Place your elbows as a comfortable 90 degree angle, flat on a chair arm or elevated correctly using a towel.
  3. When viewing the screen, make sure your head is at a neutral (nearly forward) angle.  Do not work with your head looking strongly upward or downward.
  4. Increase the text size on your screen if you cannot comfortably read it.
  5. Reduce the brightness of your screen so that text is clear, but the light is not glaring.  In general, match the brightness of your screen to the lighting in your workspace.
  6. Place a hard surface, such as a notebook, tray, or binder between your legs and the laptop when working in a chair to ensure the computer is on a flat stable surface.
  7. Ensure your feet are flat on the floor with knees lower than hips or that your feet are elevated at a slight angle on an egonomic footrest designed for that purpose.

How to Make Your Chromebook Look Like Windows

A browser extension will now help you make your Google Chromebook look just like Windows 8.  The browser extension, called New MetroTab, changes the layout of Google Chrome's New Tab Page to look like the Metro-Style Start Screen of Window 8, complete with tiles for frequently visited websites.  New MetroTab also allows you to add active content, like weather or news, and tiles for commonly used apps and games.

The interface of New MetroTab is customizable,
so you can choose any background image you wish
 or change many other interface options.

With some retailers selling Chromebooks for as low as $150, traditional computer users increasingly likely to choose a Chromebook as a secondary netbook, for travel or sharing with a family member.  The Chromebook's unfamiliar interface and lack of Windows apps has reduced its popularity, but New MetroTab helps by making the interface more familiar.

New MetroTab is not only for Chromebook users:  

It's worth noting that in January of 2015, control of New MetroTab was passed to the developers of Chrome app New Tab Plus, but New MetroTab remains highly usable.  Though New Tab Plus is also an attractive Chrome New Tab Page replacement, it does not resemble Windows 8 the way that New MetroTab does.