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What's the Best Way To Get Web Content To My TV?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the voodoo-magic dept.

Television 304

An anonymous reader writes "It seems like there are a lot of options for getting web content onto our TVs, but which one is the best way to go? Being able to stream videos (especially through sites like Hulu), check out social networking sites, and read news would be awesome to do from my couch. Currently, I hook up my laptop to the TV, which works, but it's annoying, especially if I want to use my laptop while I am watching some videos. Some things that are important to me are: connecting to my HDTV, allowing me view anything I could in a web browser as if I were on my computer, and being easily controlled from the couch. What setups do you guys use, or what would you like to use?"

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Top three recently introduced (2, Informative)

adeelarshad82 (1482093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627774)

The top three products at DEMO for surfing the web on your TV were GlideTV, Kylo & Nyoombl. Details here [pcmag.com]

Re:Top three recently introduced (4, Informative)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628106)

I'm a big fan of PlayOn + Xbox 360

Re:Top three recently introduced (3, Informative)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628338)

Playon works pretty well with my ps3

Re:Top three recently introduced (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628646)

I use a PC with PlayOn [playon.tv] to stream to my PS3, XBOX 360, Wii, and an XBOX with XBMC. It will actually stream to any device that is DLNA [dlna.org] compliant. There is an active plugin [playonplugins.com] group where you can request or submit plugins for different sites. Since I am seeing many of the newer Blu-Ray players come with DLNA baked in I would look for one of those if a gaming console isn't what you have or want.

Re:Top three recently introduced (1)

ReptilianSamurai (1042564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628790)

I've been using PlayOn with my PS3 and watching Hulu, and don't pay for cable (other than internet). It generally works pretty well, but is by no means perfect. There is no way to fast forward, even though Hulu on the computer lets you skip ahead, and the PS3 controls let you attempt to fast forward (but if you do, you usually end up losing the stream and needing to start over). This frustrates the other problem, which is that often when watching something on Hulu it will simply break and stop playing, sometimes more than 30 minutes in. When that happens I either give up and watch it on the computer, or I have to start all over from the beginning, and go off and find something to kill 30 minutes till the show catches up to where I left off. There are also buffering problems, but that may just have to do with my home network. (Except it seems to make no difference is my laptop is actually wired or wireless). I'm starting to consider just hooking my laptop up to my new hdtv via the monitor input and just watching it that way, even though it's far less convenient.

If you want it to act like a computer hooked to TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31627796)

Then it needs to be a computer hooked to your TV. Just get a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (3, Informative)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628086)

This works well. DVR, stream videos, etc... all with Windows Media Center. Plus what you can't get through windows media center, you can always fire up a browser, and get what you want.

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628306)

I'd suggest nixing the wireless keyboard and mouse and just use laptops with VNC. These days, just about everyone has at least a cheap netbook or an iPod touch, so everyone can have their own "remote". Now if I could just use the laptop for all of my TV's other functions I'd be pretty happy.

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (2, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628456)

Why not both?

Wireless keyboard when you are just watching TV.

Netbook for when you are watching TV and surfing at the same time.

It's not like one makes you unable to do the other.

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628490)

Now if I could just use the laptop for all of my TV's other functions I'd be pretty happy.

If you don't mind experimenting, this looks like it might be an interesting way to get a Windows system to control any IR device... but I have not tried it. http://www.usbuirt.com/ [usbuirt.com]

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (1)

bjwest (14070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628664)

I'd nix the VNC and go with Synergy [sourceforge.net] . I use it between my Linux based DVR and my laptop when I want to used both. Works with Windows and between Windows and Linux

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628424)

Then it needs to be a computer hooked to your TV. Just get a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Whoever submitted this "Ask Slashdot" needs that and a swift kick to the nuts and he'll be good to go.

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (3, Informative)

DarkVader (121278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628512)

Exactly this.

My setup is a Mac mini, DVI-HDMI cable, and optical digital audio, with a wireless keyboard and mouse. It works just like a computer, because it's a computer.

The content lives on an Xserve in another room, hardwired gigabit ethernet to the TV computer. The mini has a 1.66 Core Duo, is about 4 years old, and it doesn't have any problem playing 1080p content.

I'm pretty happy with it.

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628708)

My biggest issue, is that most wireless keyboard options suck, and/or are overly priced. BTC had a nice living room keyboard, wasn't successful because it was big, but it's the only one I've actually liked. The Logitech ones aren't bad, just a bit pricey. Also, range never works nearly as well as advertised. I've been a fan of the HTPC route though. Boxee is probably my favorite software, I've also used MCE and Media Portal. It's nice having a full PC and being able to open a browser when needed. I'd suggest a >= 42" screen at 1080P, and a browser with a decent zoom functionality, as reading from the couch sometimes isn't so easy. Overall it works well, as long as the media companies hold back Hulu from being included in the likes of Boxee it won't work so great in that type of interface.

PlayOn and others bridge the gap a bit, but nothing is as good as actually just having a computer in the living room. It's pretty easy to setup a Micro-ATX AMD/ATI 785G or better Motherboard, with a low-ish power dual core CPU that can handle pretty much all video, and some moderate gaming and emulation, without too much noise. The Atom-330 + ION is close, but not quite enough. I do think the software has some catching up to do, but it's definitely getting there. I'm hoping the hardware going into the Boxee Box will work out well myself.

Re:If you want it to act like a computer hooked to (1)

Hott of the World (537284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628752)

1. Wireless Keyboards and mice don't reach very far, despite what the name suggests. If you're looking to sit more than 10 feet away from your TV, you'll need a booster or a Blue tooth Mouse/Keyboard combo.

  2. Blue tooth combos suck, they constantly lose connection, aren't very responsive, and the mouse can occasionally flip out while trying to use it. In essence, it sucks.

  3. No TV box will do everything your browser,hard-drive, ram, video-card,keyboard,mouse, and dvd-rom will do. Make some compromises, or be prepared to spend thousands of dollars.

nVidia ION nettop (5, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627808)

I've been testing these things for work, and I'm very impressed.

Dual core atom w/ hyperthreading actually makes the system very responsive, so it's easier to forget that it's not a "real" CPU, unlike my single-core eeePC that does stutter occasionally.

Also has a decent nVidia 9400 GPU with dedicated RAM, so it actually will give you decent 3D desktop effects (useful for monitoring multiple pieces of content simultaneously), decoding acceleration, etc. under both Windows and Linux.

The price point is pretty good too... many are under $300 if you can provide your own storage... e.g. if you find a usb pendrive linux-based media center that streams everything.

That takes care of pretty flexible hardware... I don't actually have a TV, though, so I haven't really bothered to find media software I liked. But going with a full nettop means it should be pretty straightforward to run all XBMC, Boxee, MythTV, Miro, etc. from one device. Though I guess you'd need to go with Windows to get crappy DRM'd content like Hulu and Netflix (which I've simply just been doing without).

Re:nVidia ION nettop (2, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627974)

Netflix runs quite well on the Mac through Silverlight. Haven't bothered with Hulu though.

Re:nVidia ION nettop (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628276)

Not enough oomph for Adobe Flash, unless you get lucky and the GPU-accelerated alpha of 10.1 actually accelerates for you.

Re:nVidia ION nettop (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628772)

Agreed, most sources for video fall short of 1080p playability on the ION platforms as well (more CPU bound). I'd go with an AMD 785G board, and a lowerish power X2, you can use bigger/quiter fans and get decent performance... or could get a better CPU and under-clock... though I always have trouble with determining which motherboards are under-clockable.

Re:nVidia ION nettop (1)

mejesster (813444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628714)

I am using an nVidia ION based system running Windows Server 2008 with a ton of storage. Boxee works quite well, but XBMC has trouble with DXVA content (aka hardware decoding). Linux has better decoding/playback software, but MUCH worse flash support for the anemic CPU. There are lots of apps for both Windows and Linux with "10 foot interfaces" for use in an HTPC environment. Additionally, there are several wireless keyboards and remotes out there suited for HTPC use.

Home Theatre PC. (4, Informative)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627812)

I use an HP "Media Center" PC, running Ubuntu with MythTV and accessed with a Microsoft Remote Keyboard. Two analog tuners for cable, and an HDHomerun hooked to a powered antenna for over the air HD content.

MythTV runs on virtual desktop one, and a web browser on virtual desktop two.

--saint

Re:Home Theatre PC. (2, Informative)

heckler95 (1140369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628718)

Same here but with Windows Vista Media Center which includes a great Netflix implementation. The PC came with a remote control which can do anything you need to within the Media Center interface and I have installed Hulu Desktop which is also remote control-friendly. Unfortunately I only have a single tuner connected to the output of my cable box with an IR blaster for changing channels and recording.

All in all, it was a completely painless setup, the only negative is that I don't have a way to get HD output from my cable box into Media Center.

Acer Revo (5, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627868)

I replaced my eeebox with an Acer Revo this year. For $200 US you get a small but fully fledged computer that runs Ubuntu just fine. It's a perfect box for xbmc. Firefox works just fine for web to your TV.

Best thing about it is the Nvidia Ion chipset, so you can do full 1080p playback. Biggest disadvantage is the lack of wireless. I added a USB wireless adapter.

For controls, you can use a wireless keyboard. For the XBMC you can use a Microsoft Media Center remote, or there's a decent remote for the iPhone/iPod touch.

What's a TV? (0, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627874)

I don't have one of those anymore. Well, I do, but it's in the basement. Lately I've been watching everything directly on my computer, because I got tired of the broadcast/cable schedule and prefer on-demand instant gratification (via the internet, or via stored videos on my hard drive).

If I did want to watch something on TV, I'd just use the HDMI out connector.

Re:What's a TV? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628328)

Lately I've been watching everything directly on my computer

Which works while you're alone. If you want to watch with visiting friends or family, then as you mentioned, you need the HDMI out to put video on a bigger screen. And if you are visiting someone who has only an SDTV, you may need an even more obscure piece of hardware [pineight.com] to turn VGA signals into composite or S-Video signals.

because I got tired of the broadcast/cable schedule

For sports, broadcast and cable schedules are tied to the schedule of the actual contest: they show the action 15 seconds after it happens. Any later and you're watching "edited for highlight reel" footage.

Re:What's a TV? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628562)

Unless your computer has a 50" screen and 5 speakers, (IMO, at least) you're really missing out for movies...

Also, personally I can't stand watching random TV shows on my computer. Why? Because I tend to want to use my computer while I'm watching them. I may pay 100% attention to a decent movie (which is too painful to watch on a computer for 2 hours anyway), but there are few TV shows these days I feel worth my undivided attention for 30-60 minutes...

Computer under the TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31627884)

I just put a PC in the entertainment center beneath my TV, and hook it up. Throw in a wireless keyboard and mouse, and it's an easy setup.

Er, a PS3 (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627894)

Does all that. Plays Blurays too. And games.

Re:Er, a PS3 (1)

IDreamInCode (672260) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628242)

Hulu is blocked, or at least was, the last time I checked. Yes, you can hack it, but right out of the box, it didn't work.

Re:Er, a PS3 (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628316)

The hack no longer works, as the PS3's Flash implementation is Flash 9, and Hulu now requires Flash 10.

However:
rtmpdump 2.2 (From the mplayer-hosted site, not the original author's site which was in the USA and got DMCAed)+ ffmpeg (for lossless transcoding from FLV to MP4) + MediaTomb will sort-of get you Hulu on your PS3.

Re:Er, a PS3 (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628508)

If you have a PC running on your network, you can use a media server like PlayOn to stream Hulu from your PC to your PS3. Kinda lame tho.

I bought a Dell Zino with HDMI out for about $300 so I could have full access to the web in my theater.

Re:Er, a PS3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628290)

PS3 is nice for a lot of things; web browsing is not one of them. The built in browser is unresponsive, troublesome to navigate with (popup hell), no plugin support for adblocking, and embedded videos are flaky at best. Streaming videos and music from the playstation store is painless enough, if you have plenty of funding in your wallet. Hopefully Netflix is better, but I haven't personally tried it on the PS3 yet.
 
for .avi files, DVDs, BDs, games, and content purchased from the playstation store, the PS3 is great. However, it's crap at web-browsing (I end up hooking up my laptop to the TV instead). For external media, only FAT32 is supported, not NTFS, so be careful when formatting your external media drives. There's also a file size limit for folders from a networked media server. The total lack of .mkv support is another big gripe I have with it.

Re:Er, a PS3 (2, Informative)

mrjohnson (538567) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628476)

Netflix rocks on the PS3...

Re:Er, a PS3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628358)

video format support sucks though. and the ps3mediacenter program is an unwanted kludge

Boxee (2, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627912)

I pulled out an out dated PC, stuck an ATI all-in-wonder card in it and plugged it into the TV. I've been running Boxee on it for a while now. I like that it has such a variety of "apps" that aggregate videos from Hulu, Netflix, the major networks, as well as plays my DVDs and ripped movies*.

Honestly though, Boxee is still a little rough. The interface is excellent, but it feels a bit laggy at times (although this is an older PC), and their double buffering interface leaves a bit to be desired. I'm sure they'll continue to improve it, but some times I just drop out of Boxee and go to the source site directly.

-Rick

*Legally ripped movies that is. Teething toddlers will chew on anything, even your limited run collectors edition of the LoTR trilogy.

Re:Boxee (1)

SwordsmanLuke (1083699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628732)

Another vote for Boxee. I'm running an old P4 dual core 2.1Ghz box with an NVidia 5200 on Ubuntu. Instead of a standard IR remote though, I use cWiid and an old Wiimote. Since it's bluetooth, I don't have to worry about setting up finicky IR receivers or line of sight. 8^)

Boxee (2, Informative)

madmaxjr57 (1585829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627932)

http://www.boxee.tv/ [boxee.tv] has been a pretty decent means of getting various web series onto my TV. Seems to have some issues pulling hulu content though. Does a wonderful job of playing local content too.

Nettop + wireless keyboard and mouse (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627934)

The subject pretty much says it all.

Boxee or Plex (4, Informative)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627942)

I've been using XBMC since.... well, since it first came out for the original XBox. It didn't stream web content though, and to this day it's still a PITA to stream through the modern XBMC, even in Windows.

If you've got a spare Mac (which would be pretty rare), I would highly recommend Plex. Using the Apple remote works beautifully, and it handles Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and anything else you could throw at it. It also does Pandora, which is awesome, since the system is already hooked up to the stereo.

If you're using Linux or Windows, I would go with Boxee. It does all of the Hulu/Netflix/Pandora/ESPN360/etc. content, and has finally become genuinely stable enough for everyday use, even for my mildly non-technical wife, who has to keep TV rolling for 2 kids on demand.

I keep the actual box that does the streaming in the basement to avoid any sort of fan noise, and just run an HDMI cable and a digital audio cable(I use SPDIF, simply because it was the simplest to run and I had stacks of long RCA cables) coming up through the floor and hooked to the flat screen in the living room.

If you also run a long USB cable, you can hook up all kinds of stuff, especially joysticks for emulation :]

Let's see any of the hardware HTPC options out there run ColecoVision :]

Drawback of emulation: dumping your carts (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628418)

If you also run a long USB cable, you can hook up all kinds of stuff, especially joysticks for emulation

An emulator on an HTPC with an optical drive works fine for PlayStation game discs. But emulating classic cartridge-based consoles has one drawback: figuring out how to copy your game cartridges into the PC. Easily available dumpers like the Retrode [retrode.org] don't support the ColecoVision yet.

careful with this advice (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628564)

If you're using Linux or Windows, I would go with Boxee. It does all of the Hulu/Netflix/Pandora/ESPN360/etc. content, and has finally become genuinely stable enough for everyday use, even for my mildly non-technical wife, who has to keep TV rolling for 2 kids on demand.

Actually, Netflix does not work at all under linux, including via Boxee. That's a function of Netflix's choice of Sliverlight as its DRM lock-in. Moonlight still isn't there....

Hulu has been a major cat-and-mouse game with Boxee, and on Linux, the game hasn't been going well for Boxee. Most shows won't play through the first commercial break [getsatisfaction.com] .

I finally gave up with Ubuntu and migrated my Boxee system to WinXP. It's a single-processor Amd Athlon 3200 XP, which typically renders video fine. In XP, Hulu and Netflix run poorly through Boxee with consistent choppiness [boxee.tv] . Running Hulu and Netflix through a web browser on the system works fine.

I really like Boxee and will likely upgrade to a multi-core processor as people using that architecture aren't encountering the same performance issues.

Seth

Re:Boxee or Plex (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628740)

I've been using XBMC since.... well, since it first came out for the original XBox. It didn't stream web content though, and to this day it's still a PITA to stream through the modern XBMC, even in Windows.

There are XBMC scripts for various kinds of streaming. I've not bothered with them very much, but in my brief attempts, it seemed to do a decent job of YouTube and BBC 'listen again' streaming (can't remember whether it did iPlayer video).

I use XBMC on the original Xbox a lot, streaming AVI files etc. from my Mac over SMB. It works beautifully. It's not got the grunt for 720p, but I'm not particularly bothered by that.

Re:Boxee or Plex (2, Interesting)

dmiller1984 (705720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628766)

I have to second the recommendation of Plex. I bought a Mac Mini and set it up with a RAID array that I already had. I'm still in the process of ripping all my DVDs using HandBrake for the Mac, but those that I have ripped play in Plex beautifully. It's also nice to have easy access to Hulu as well as other web video through the program. It still has a few quirks, but nothing deal-breaking. Since it is based off of XBMC there are already a number of skins available for it as well as add-ons. The Apple Remote works well, but it will even work with nicer programmable remotes.

Full blown PC (1)

rbfergus8 (1776564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627950)

Nothing better than a fully capable computer for web access, XBMC, photos, and gaming. Why have a beautiful TV without being able to completely enjoy it?

Linux Alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31627956)

Have you heard of LinuxMCE, so much more than a toppee...there is a company in the UK that has commercialised the OS and built really sexy devices ... included in the package is the option for home automation.

www.linuxmce.org

www.dianemo.co.uk

SPUT

XBMC on Ubuntu (5, Informative)

Heywood J. Blaume (858386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627962)

http://xbmc.org/ [xbmc.org] turns a linux box into a full-screen media player with good usability. Mine has an old NVidia 6200 card, works great. Add a home theater keyboard http://www.walmart.com/ip/SPEC-01027-Wireless-Mini-Trackball-Keyboard-for-HTPC-by-Ergoguys/13215118 [walmart.com] and you're set.

Plex and MythTV on a Mac (4, Informative)

GlobalEcho (26240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31627988)

I use Plex and MythTV (+HDHomeRun tuner) on a Mac Mini. It's been very reliable, and I'm happy with everything I can do, including videoconferencing. My only wish is that I could play MythTV recordings from within Plex, but really the latest version of Myth is pretty nice to use. Oh, and that Myth on OSX would do AC3 sound passthrough.

It's worth noting that I almost never browse the web using this setup any more, because most of the websites with interesting content (Hulu, YouTube, Comedy Central) have already been integrated with Plex.

You can see my setup log here: http://public.boonstra.org/MacMiniHTPCSetup.html [boonstra.org]

Samsung LED LCD's (1)

ForeverOrangeCat (1430461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628000)

samsung has a pretty nice feature for their new flat screen lcd's where you can steam you desktop over a network... would work for a laptop from your couch.

I fax it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628076)

My uncle is the station manager of a small midwest TV station. In theory, I could just print out the web page and fax it to him and he'd probably put it on camera.
Isn't that what you meant?

Wake up from that couch you lazy ass!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628082)

You will definitely need to review your habits or be prepared to grow roots in that couch...

Anonymous Coward (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628090)

Mac Mini using the Plex media center front end. Coupled with the Apple remote (or Rowmote Plus if you have an iPhone or Touch) and you're good to go for both web content and saved digital media.

First step... (-1, Troll)

RedMage (136286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628096)

1. Open the browser and navigate to the page you are interested in.
2. Press the "Print" button.
3. Take your new printout, and tape it across your TV. Larger TV's might require bigger printouts.
4. ???

  Web on your TV!

Re:First step... (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628348)

Tried that, but the bunny-ears antenna keeps getting in the way. Suggestions?

PC. (1)

Xadnem (1120075) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628100)

Last time I bought a new PC the old one went into the entertainment center. It isn't huge, isn't loud, and is more flexible than any of the small box setups. I keep a wireless mouse & keyboard in the coffee table drawer, and the PC is in sleep mode when not in use. Very easy to reach in the drawer, smack the space bar to wake it up and start watching Netflix.

PS3 + Keysonic Keyboard (1)

Elegor (866572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628104)

I've been using my PS3 and a Keysonic wireless keyboard for TV browsing for a couple of years now. Most of the navigation is done with the dualshock, with the keyboard used only for text entry. Once you get used to the dualshock controls, it's very easy to navigate around pages and quickly zoom in and out to make text readable. Flash video works pretty well, and a big plus is that (as far as I know) there aren't any PS3 viruses, trojans or botnets to worry about.

I bought my parents an Asus eee Box to do the same thing, and that works really well too.

htpc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628112)

Put together a decent little HTPC. It shouldn't cost you any more than $300 for a decently spec'd mATX board, case, proc, RAM. Get a modern onboard video chipset and all your HD decoding will be handled for you. Throw on one of these Lenovo wireless keyboard/trackball things [engadget.com] and you're all set. Add a halfway decent GPU if you want gaming abilities.

Windows Media Center 7 with... (1)

Kashell (896893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628114)

Why settle for Boxee, XBMC, Hulu, etc?

I use Windows Media Center 7 with Boxee, XBMC, and Hulu desktop plugins. Who said you can't have best of both worlds?

Easy. (2, Interesting)

sootman (158191) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628126)

Mac mini, Apple remote, and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. A bit pricey but it pretty much does everything, out of the box, with very little fiddling needed. Just need a few things, like Perian, HandBrake and/or RipIt, Hulu Desktop, Plex if you want, etc.

Re:Easy. (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628716)

Mac mini, Apple remote, and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

Maybe after a Mac mini gets HDMI output. It sucks the way Apple is dragging their feet on getting this standard onto the mini. It's as if there is some ego driven "visionary" in charge.

HTPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628128)

There's bit of an investment involved but I use a full blown (Q6600, GTX260) HTPC attached to a 37" 720p LCD via VGA. It's also connected to a 5.1 receiver via an optical link.

I use Gyration products (http://gyration.com/index.php/us/home.html) to control it from my couch. The air mice are very precise, much better than a Wiimote. I would highly recommend them for any HTPC setup.

I also use wireless 360 controllers for any gaming I do on the system.

Apple TV (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628136)

I use an Apple TV. While it's limited in a number of ways (for example, I can't watch Hulu), I can watch a ton of podcasts with a smooth and sensible UI (which is what the simplistic "TV" viewing experience is all about). I watch TED shows, Hak5, and a number of other podcasts too... so that's an option. Plus I know there are Apple TV hacks out there (which might allow Hulu viewing), but I haven't bothered into looking into them.

Re:Apple TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628478)

Had a neighbor that bought Apple TV in Christmas 2009 and he said that downloading movies takes several hours. Planning several hours ahead to watch a movie doesn't cut it.

Re:Apple TV (1)

dmiller1984 (705720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628850)

I also tried out the Apple TV but ended up returning it for a Mac Mini, which is much more configurable. The Apple TV interface is beautiful, but the lack of streaming content and the sparse customization options made we reconsider it. Plex or Boxee are much better options.

I'd stick with the laptop and get an airmouse (1)

steelvadi (199846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628142)

Anything that isn't a full PC will lack features, which would be incredibly annoying.

A mini wireless keyboard for your lap with a touchpad combined with an airmouse?

TVs should just be PCs already, if it weren't for the fast obsolescence of hardware this would probably be happening already...

The key ingredient... (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628144)

isn't the type of PC you connect to the TV, it's your pointing devices. Connect the computer to the PC by wire (HDMI/VGA/DVI...), but you need a wireless pointing device and keyboard whose signal reaches from your couch to the PC. This can be:
- a standard or bluetooth RF keyboard and mouse.
- a bluetooth receiver coupled with a Wiimote, using appropriate software available online.
- a presentation-style pointing device like those used at conferences and so on.

The last two would have the advantage that you wouldn't need a surface for the mouse and could just wave the controller in the air.

I tried to use a laptop that would remote desktop onto my HTPC over the network, but it was too laggy to be comfortable. I might have been able to tweak the settings to reduce the lag, but I've found that a regular wireless KB/Mouse work well, and are less bulky.

As far as the PC hardware goes, if you don't plan to play hardcore games, just about any graphics solution will do. I'm running AMD 785GX integrated graphics on my MB and stream HD just fine. You'll want at least a dual-core and preferably 3 or 4 core processor so your videos don't get chopped by AV scans or by browser pages loading. For memory, I'm running 4 GB. 2 GB might work, but would be pretty much impossible for any kind of gaming.

Hook a PC up to it (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628176)

I actually currently do this myself.

This is how I set it up:
get a 3.5mm to RCA audio converter from Radio Shack (you can get them for around $4 or $5). Hook that into your main audio out port on your video card. This will get your audio connected directly from your pc to your tv.

Now for the video. You have some choices. If your television is new enough, you should have vga in or dvi in. Hopefully your video card also has dvi out. If you have these options, you are good, get the cable hooked up, and call it a day.
Now if you do not have those options, you can go another route. Buy a cheap video card that has s-video out. You can then either connect the s-video, or if your television is too old for s-video, get a s-video to rca converter from Radio Shack (can get those for dirt cheap), and then you will have the classic red, white, yellow setup to directly connect your pc to a television.

Media Mall Playon + Xbox360 (1)

sricetx (806767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628182)

If you have any of the current generation console gaming systems (xbox 360, PS3, or Wii) you can use those as a frontend to a Playon server and can stream a vast variety of web content including Hulu, Netflix, Comedy Central (the latest Playon build pulls Daily Show and Colbert Report episodes from Comedy Central since these shows were dropped from Hulu on March 9), and much much more through the use of scripts and plugins.

I use a mac mini (1)

chiefscienceofficer (1664265) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628192)

I've tried xmbc - which was better than plex but for the most part I use the internal DVD player or quicktime - I usually don't stream content but download and save it for playback - that way I can show my favorite pieces easily to guests. I use a remote bluetooth mouse and keyboard to control it. Mostly I can get away with the mouse and I have also tried several remotes that work with the ipod touch. This mini also feeds the whole house with music via iTunes - the key driver here being the ability of my wife to now access any music in the library via her iphone or the ipod touch remote - The scalar in DVD player is very good and allows me to feed the display at its native 1280 X 720 resolution. I use the optical output to feed the surround system with excellent results.

NIntendo Wii, Opera, www.youtube.com/xl (2, Interesting)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628194)

and I'm looking forward to the Netflix streaming disk for the Wii:

http://www.netflix.com/NRDInfo/Wii [netflix.com]

William

Re:NIntendo Wii, Opera, www.youtube.com/xl (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628794)

The WiFi on my Wii is terrible - not good enough for basic SD YouTube streaming. I gather that's not unusual.

It's not the internet connection or the access point -- other devices connecting the same way do just fine.

Don't waste a computer. (4, Interesting)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628240)

I use a $40 Philips DVD player that has a USB port on the front. It works with flash keys and external hard drives. I simply drop the shows I want to watch onto a USB key and watch - takes only seconds to set up. The factory on-screen UI is fairly limited, but there's a brilliant hacked version that supports long file names. Similar USB-equipped DVD and Blu-Ray players are made by Samsung and are equally inexpensive. My player will be outdated in a year, and I'll just replace it with an updated equivalent. Makes far more sense than fiddling around with a nettop, PVR software, and dozens of almost-ok atom-tweaked linux variants.

Home Theater PC (1)

exx1976 (1716406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628252)

I built a Home Theater PC. Silverstone makes some great looking HTPC cases, I got a black one that matches everything else. Optical drive is CD/DVD/DVD-RW/HD-DVD/BluRay combo, fanless power supply from ThermalTake, 1TB SATA hard disk, 4GB RAM, 1GB nVidia HDMI video card, and wireless LAN (onboard) and I was off to the races. It also doubles as a jukebox (using iTunes). I don't pass TV video through it, so I use the cable company's DVR for that, but I can stream NetFlix, or watch YouTube, or DVDs or BR or HD-DVD (short-lived, I know, but there are still some floating about, and the drive didn't cost any more than a BR-only at the time). Keyboard and mouse duties are handled by a RocketFish RF keyboard and optical mouse. CyberDVD is the DVD/BR playback software (came with the drive - works GREAT).

Boxee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628256)

I've used boxee on win32 with much success, the latest release works pretty well as well as had a plugin feature to add more content and a pretty large community. Its based off xbox media center and runs on pretty much any os. hulu, netflix, youtube, built in browser etc. They also have their own box your can buy (http://www.boxee.tv/box) but i would recommend dropping a few extra bucks into it and just building your own as you will have features that aren't available on their box.

yes, a ps3 (1)

imaCOBOLdino (578422) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628284)

ps3 is easy and flexible. And you can install a different OS if you want.

That's easy ... (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628312)

WebTV [wikipedia.org] *grin*

Sony Bravia (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628370)

I'm fairly happy with my Sony Bravia — hooked up to my home network (both Ethernet and WiFi are there), it can go to things YouTube or Netflix directly.

It can also play contents off of your computer, although it is, unfortunately, rather picky... The server must comply with DLNA [wikipedia.org] -standard (not merely UPnP MediaServer [wikipedia.org] ). The set of supported formats is rather disappointing too, both for movies, and even for JPEG-pictures. For example, Sony's own software (also found in their digital picture frames) rejects Progressive JPEGs [wikipedia.org] .

But, on balance, the direct access to so many things with the TV's own remote is great...

I built a full HTPC. (1)

Xoltri (1052470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628372)

Recently I finished my basement and so here is my setup. I originally had the PC in one of those small HTPC cases but it would not hold the new Radeon 5770 I bought so I could also use this computer to game on.

Here is a picture: http://picasaweb.google.com/xoltri/BasementReno#5449208554917435106 [google.com]

I don't have an entertainment unit yet to put the PC in. But it is completely silent and obviously it does everything. And playing Modern Warfare 2 on a 52" TV at 1920x1080 with ultra settings blew my mind.

For my other TV upstairs I will probably just get one of those small boxes that connects to the TV and stream stuff off of my NAS. Dlink is coming out with one that looks interesting: http://www.dlink.com/boxeebox [dlink.com]

Great Keyboard/Touchpad combo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628380)

ADESSO WKB-4000US

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823166047

This thing is great. Isn't bulky, wireless and overall a great product. Not always as responsive as I'd like, but still better than a separate keyboard/mouse.

HTPC setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628388)

I use a cheap HTPC based off of the Asus M2NPV-VM motherboard with a cheap AMD processor, all packed up in low profile microATX case. To control it, I use a 2.4GHz wireless keyboard with a built in trackball (http://www.adesso.com/en/home/keyboards/91-wkb-3000ub.html). Since the graphics card isn't great, I highly recommend coreAVC codec to view 1080p video, as it results in much nicer playback than any other h264 codecs I've used. I originally purchased this system to use as a netboot LinuxMCE client, but was never particularly happy with LinuxMCE, so converted it to a Win 7 box instead.

Re:HTPC setup (1)

_Hiro_ (151911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628700)

So what you're saying is that you built yourself a Neuros LINK? (That's almost identical hardware)

MythTV .23 includes web content (1)

Eric Sharkey (1717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628420)

The latest release of MythTV [mythtv.org] (.23RC1) contains a new plugin called MythNetVision [mythtv.org] which specifically enables browsing of online videos.

It's still a little rough yet, but is under active development.

this may not be you (1)

Logibeara (1620627) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628430)

but I'm sure a lot of Slashdot readers have at least one old desktop around. All that is really required is a TV with a VGA input, and most new ones have an HDMI cable input as well. If you're lucky that old desktop already has an HDMI cable output on its video card, otherwise go with VGA or buy a cheap HDMI enabled video card. Having a separate media box is very convenient because you never have to disconnect it

As for the couch sitting importance go for a decent Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.
If you get a cheapo, your experience will consist of writhing around the couch trying to get signal before you give up and find a surface closer to the reciever.

I use my wii (2, Interesting)

mmmmbeer (107215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628436)

Put the homebrew channel and a media player on a wii. You can watch media files from your network or off a usb drive; you can view web pages, including flash video, using the available web browser; and of course, you can also play games. The price is pretty good, too. The down side is that it's only 480p at best.

Simple solution (2, Interesting)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628446)

What's wrong with a simple box like the WDTV Live [walmart.com] ?

Re:Simple solution (1)

Logibeara (1620627) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628590)

What's wrong with a simple box like the WDTV Live [walmart.com] ?

What's wrong?
Whats WRONG!!?
three words: Simple, Walmart, and Onehundred and nineteen dollars

Dirt cheep route.. (2)

Pontiac (135778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628466)

I did it the easy way..

I got a $99 lease return PC from Tiger and stuffed it in the stereo cabinet.
I already have a wireless router in the cabinet for the PVR so network access was easy..
Toss in a HDMI capable video card (Nvidia 210 for $40) and it's almost done..
Wireless keyboard and mouse sit on the TV cabinet..
PC runs UltraVNC so I can remote control it from my laptop..

We mostly stream Netflx movies on it.. Sometimes the Kids play games on the big TV from the keyboard/mouse..

Plex (1)

jjh37997 (456473) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628496)

I bought a mac mini just to run Plex, it's just that nice.

roku (1)

cemcnulty (225472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628532)

Roku (http://www.roku.com/) + http://github.com/netguy204/roku_media_server [github.com]

and more Roku based solutions to be arriving soon, now that Roku has opened up the API. It's not exactly what you're asking for, for now you need actual downloaded files encoded in one of the several formats that Roku supports, but beyond that tiny hurdle, works like a champ!

Try an Asus eeeBox (1)

mckillnm (751344) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628548)

A little winner...
http://event.asus.com/eeepc/microsites/eeebox/en/ [asus.com]

I have a few of these bad boys with wireless keyboards [Toshiba PA3705D] running MythTV clients.

Very small foot print, 21W power requirement, and DVI output for easy connection to your telly!

-Marko

Mac mini for internet, xbox for netflix (1)

rjolley (1118681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628658)

I got a mac mini for $600 and a wireless keyboard and mouse for $75 (old style apple keyboard, cheap wireless mouse) and a $20 lapboard to set them on. I use it for hulu and browsing, and my wife uses iPhoto to upload photos to social networking sites. For netflix we use an xbox because that's the only way you can get netflix in HD afaik. I've tried playon and boxee and other things, but if you want a browser you need a regular old computer.

MAME box (1)

Bobb Sledd (307434) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628676)

I built a portable MAME box to connect to my TV, finally figured out it's also great for watching videos and DVDs from as well.

It's here [bensolomon.com] if you want to see it.

For networking, I got some of those PowerLine network adapters, that communicate using your home's AC wiring. I couldn't use wireless because it was too far away from my access point, and there was a bathroom in the way (lots of pipes I suppose).

Then I installed VNC on the thing, and now I can just load videos to it, start the video and by the time I walk into the other room, the video has started.

Popcorn Hour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628692)

I use a popcorn hour with a hard drive installed in it. It plays pretty much every media format and has totally replaced cable TV for me for about the last 8 months or so.

Might be the most expensive... (1)

radiosac (1364217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628776)

the Crestron ADMS does all that and more, plus it can control everything else in the house (lights, remote rooms, IP Dishwasher etc..)

zotac ion + xbmc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31628820)

As others have pointed out, a Zotac ION board is plenty capable of decoding 1080p content and working as a real computer as well. As a bonus, the board plus a hard drive will draw about 18w when idle and around 25-30 when watching something. It fits in a package smaller than Stephen King's latest novel. The board, the hard drive, the enclosure and power supply run around $300-$400.

On mine, I run Ubuntu and use XBMC. I have an external 2TB hard drive connected that stores content. For controls, I use a Logitech DiNovo Mini wireless keyboard + touchpad.

Go here and learn what you need (1)

bjk002 (757977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628824)

http://www.hometheaternetwork.com/ [hometheaternetwork.com]

Great content, diagramming, etc...

It is the definitive source for all things related to home theater and home automation.

Mac Mini (1)

Gotung (571984) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628832)

Mac Mini (with dvi to hdmi cable) + Logitech DiNovo keyboard is the combo I use. Even if you don't like Mac OS X the hardware is fantastic for this role, nice, compact, quiet and plenty powerful for all your TV computing needs.

Re:Mac Mini (1)

Gotung (571984) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628870)

Specifically I meant the DiNovo Mini

HTPC Needed (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31628846)

The best route for maximum flexiability is a Media PC. Any PC will work, and any flavor of OS. I've used Windows and Mac PC's extensively. I haven't tried a Linux box yet, but I see no reason why those wouldn't serve just as well.

For Windows, nVidia drivers will give you overscan options out of the box. ATI isn't quite as user friendly (or it wasn't the last time I used their drivers, but that may have changed. The ones that do are excellent for clipping off the overscan so you get a nice edge to edge picture. If you want to do the tweaking at the driver/monitor level, PowerStrip [moesrealm.com] is an excellent first place to start for PC for tweaking video frequencies and overscan/underscan.

For Mac, you'll want to look at SwitchResX [madrau.com] which doe the same thing on the Mac side.

I'm sure folks can chime in on the Linux side of the equation.

For software, on the PC, I didn't do a lot of streaming, but I'd suggest starting with Plex, Hulu Desktop, and Boxbee for your web needs. Any browser will of course also work for the web content, but the one's with the 'full screen' option work best. For PC hardware, try to find a sound solution with either HDMI out (with Audio Support), or 5.1 optical out.

For Mac, I'd suggest the same software. Plex is especially handy since it will convert AAC to AC3 on the fly, meaning you get multi-channel AC3 output to your tuner without any special tools or tweaks needed. For hardware, all macs come with a TOSLINK [amazon.com] Fiber/Analog dual combo port, so you can just pipe out optical digital audio on just about any Mac.

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