Satellite and cable TV are convenient, but they’re expensive. Today, there are many services and devices that will allow you to ditch your satellite or cable TV service provider and watch all your TV shows and movies on demand over the Internet. To watch Internet TV and movies on an HDTV, you will need a home computer with a wired or wireless network router. You will also need a high-speed Internet connection of at least 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps.) Make sure that your home network is set up before setting up your HDTV to watch streaming TV and movies.
Best Internet TV and Movie Services
Netflix is by far the best service available with streaming movies and TV that you can watch over the Internet. The site has over 20,000 movies and TV shows available for instant streaming. To access the Netflix instant streaming service you need a subscription to one of Netflix’s unlimited plans, which start at about $9 per month. Netflix will easily stream on your home computer. You can also watch Netflix instant streaming movies and TV on an HDTV using a Roku Digital Video Player, a WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player, a SeaGate Free Agent Theater+ HD Media Player, a TiVo, game consoles such as the Wii, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, and certain Internet-connected Blu-ray players and HDTVs. The good news is that even while you’re streaming Netflix TV and movies over the Internet, you can still check out DVDs through the mail.
The Hulu website offers many free streaming TV shows and movies on its website. You can easily watch Hulu on any Internet-connected computer. Hulu has also introduced a new service called Hulu Plus includes full seasons of your favorite TV shows in HD. Hulu Plus will soon be available for $9.99 per month. Hulu Plus will stream on your Internet connected computer, and will soon be available for streaming on certain Blu-ray players and HDTVs PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
In some ways it might seem like Netflix and Hulu Plus are competing services, but they’re not. Netflix carries mainly movies and older network, cable and satellite TV shows that have completed their run. Hulu Plus, on the other hand, provides primarily newer network TV shows very soon after they are broadcast. Both services are good to have if you want to avoid the high cost of satellite and cable TV and DVR and the annoyance of having to fight with antennas and poor TV reception.
Google TV is another upcoming service that will allow users to search for their favorite TV shows and browse the Internet on their TVs using the Google Chrome web browser. Google TV has partnered with Sony, Logitech, Intel and Dish Network to produce devices that support Google TV, which will be available in the fall of 2010. So if you’re thinking of buying an Internet-connected Blu-ray player or HDTV, you may want to wait to get the best features.
Watch TV on and Movie Internet Connected Blu-Ray Players and HDTVs
You can watch Internet TV and movies on any Internet-connected Blu-ray player or HDTV. However, if you’re picky about which services you want to use, you’ll have to buy a specific brand of Blu-ray player or HDTV. If you’ve already bought an HDTV that isn’t Internet-ready, you don’t have to replace it. Just shop for a Blu-ray player or set top box that can stream TV and movies from the Internet.
Netflix is currently supported by Internet-ready Blu-ray players and HDTVs from brands such as Insignia, LG, VIZIO, Panasonic, Samsung, Philips and Sony. Hulu Plus will stream on Samsung and Sony Internet-connected HDTVs and Blu-ray players. Sony will also soon release an HDTV that supports Google TV.
If you’re interested in buying an Internet connected HDTV or Blu-ray player to use another Internet TV or movie service, make sure the device supports the service before you sign on the dotted line.
Watch Internet TV and Movies on an HDTV with a Roku Digital Video Player
The Roku Digital Video Player is a Wi-Fi ready media player that can stream movies, TV and radio from the Internet. Roku SD is a standard definition player that can play DVD-quality video on your HDTV. Roku HD can play both standard and high-definition video sources and has HDMI and optical audio outputs. Roku HD-XR has all the features of Roku HD, but also has a Wireless N adapter to increase the range of your wireless connection.
The Roku Digital Video Player currently supports Internet channels such as Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Roku Newscaster, Pandora Radio, UFC.tv (Ultimate Fighting Championship,) MLB.tv (Major League Baseball TV,) NASA TV, MediaFly and Radiotime. You can also use the Roku Digital Video Player to access social networking websites such as Flickr and Facebook Photos. At this time, there doesn’t seem to be any chance of Hulu Plus being offered on the Roku Digital Video Player.
Watch Internet TV and Movies on a Boxee Box
The Boxee Box, produced by D-Link, is another Wi-Fi enabled media player that can bring the Internet to your HDTV. The Boxee Box will be available in November of 2010, and will include channels such as Netflix, Pandora Radio, Major League Baseball TV and National Public Radio. It will also support social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Although Boxee Box has promised Hulu since it appeared at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, Hulu has made repeated attempts to block Boxee from showing its content. Still, even if Hulu isn’t in the offering, the Boxee Box has plenty of features to keep you entertained. Boxee Box is adding new channels such as Wolfgang’s Vault, RoxioNow and Google Buzz to get it ready for its ultimate release. The Boxee Box also has an SD card slot, a radio frequency remote with a QWERTY keyboard, an HDMI output and 2 USB ports. You can easily transfer media files from your computer to the Boxee Box to watch them on your HDTV.
Watch Internet TV and Movies on a Home Theater PC (HTPC)
Buying a computer to use as a dedicated home theater device is an expensive option. However, it would eliminate many of the problems with set top boxes that don’t support the Internet TV shows and movies you want to watch. It will also allow you to play online games and surf the web on your HDTV. You would need a computer with at least a 1.5 GHz processor, 512 MB of memory, Windows XP or Vista or Mac OS X and a wireless mouse or remote. Preferably, your HTPC should have a 2.5 GHz processor, 1 GB of memory and a high-end graphics processor such as NVidia GeForce or ATI Radeon. It should also have a large hard drive of 250 GB or greater if you wish to download TV shows and movies to the computer.
You will also the right connections and cables. Most HDTVs today have coaxial, composite (A/V), component and HDMI inputs. Some also have VGA, DVI and S-Video inputs. Your HTPC and HDTV must have at least one of these connections in common. Your best choice for video and audio quality is to use HDMI. However, if an HDMI connection isn’t present, the next best connection options are component, VGA and DVI. However, keep in mind that VGA and DVI only carry a video signal. To get the audio, you’ll need to connect a separate cable. Also, most computers don’t come with a component or HDMI output and many HDTVs don’t come with computer inputs. In order to make sure your HTPC and HDTV connect, you may need to buy a higher end computer with a TV tuner card.
For more information on this topic, read Best Websites to Watch Free Streaming TV Shows Online, Best Websites to Legally Watch Movies Online for Free and How to Stream Netflix Movies and TV on an HDTV.
Joe Eitel, “D-Link`s Boxee Box – Features and Customizing Media.” DevHardware.com
“Boxee Blog.” http://blog.boxee.tv/