5 Ways to Get Internet on Your TV
As the distinction between traditional television (accessed across the airwaves or via cable), audio services such as radio, and online media services gradually becomes more and more blurred, increasing amounts of people now desire to watch web-based video and audio services on their TV.
Although historically, there have been some technical disadvantages in the past, such as lower picture quality, or breaks in the video for rebuffering (usually when the bandwidth is not sufficiently fast enough to cope with continual streaming), these problems are generally becoming increasingly rare thanks to advancing technology.
The advantages of watching web-based services are huge - they include not being limited to time schedules set by the TV companies, being able to watch videos over and over again, being able to pause videos for breaks, and often being able to save favorite shows for future viewing.
Here are my 5 ways to get internet on your TV, I hope that you enjoy reading my list and that it is of use to you.
The 5 Main Ways
The methods that I am going to cover in this article are:
- Using an internet-enabled TV
- Blu-ray or DVD player.
- Streaming media box or stick.
- Gaming consoles.
- Putting your computer through the TV.
I will explain each of these methods below in more detail.
A lot of new TVs can now access online services and you don't need to connect any other devices apart from your modem. If your TV has wifi capability then you don't even need to physically cable it to your modem, just configure it (which is usually much more straightforward than it might sound).
Cabling directly, however, is almost always the best way of ensuring a strong signal, as the wifi signal diminishes in strength, especially if there is a large distance between the TV and the modem.
The TV usually connects to specific channels, games and services (for example: Netflix; Pandora; Amazon) using apps. It may also be able to stream media from your computer, or other devices, such as a tablet or smartphone.
Media Streaming Player
There are a number of streaming players on the market nowadays, popular examples of players being Roku, Netgear and Apple TV. Generally speaking they are small boxes, or sticks that connect to your modem using wifi and stream specific channels and media services to your TV in a similar way to internet TVs and DVD players.
My own personal favorite is the Roku. These small boxes are relatively inexpensive, yet offer a vast array of channels and services, which are expanding all the time. There is also a very vibrant online Roku community .
Advantages of Watching Internet on TV
- TV screens are usually bigger than computer screens or those on handheld devices, providing a more fulfilling entertainment experience.
- TVs are typically set up for viewing by families or groups making the experience more comfortable.
- The internet provides a wider range of media options than television services alone.
- Some media streaming devices, such as Roku, offer apps and services not available via traditional providers.
Blu-ray or DVD player
Many new Blu-ray and DVD players connect to online services, such as Netflix, Youtube and Vudu. The player is connected to your modem with a cable, or can often work using wifi (although the signal will get weaker, if the player is a large distance from the modem).
As with the TVs, there are number of different systems, involving apps, which are used - examples include Smart TV and Google TV. These TV systems are generally expanding the number of apps all the time as more traditional TV channels develop an online capability, plus new online channels are also appearing.
Consoles such as Wii, Xbox and Playstation can all access online services and play media through your TV. Wii, for example, can play any video that's in the Flash player format (for example, Youtube).
Xbox 360 can use Windows Media Center on your PC to stream music and video to the TV. Playstation can access internet content via its in-built browser, although it is unable to play Flash videos.
Laptop or PC
Plugging your laptop or computer into your TV is much simpler nowadays with many TVs on the market that have VGA , or better still, HDMI ports. Essentially, you are using your TV as a computer monitor screen. (You might need to connect up your audio too, if you use VGA, using the laptop's headphone socket - one neat option is to buy a cable which combines both video and audio).
If you use HDMI, however, not only is the video quality usually much better, but you don't have to worry about plugging in the sound separately.
There are downsides to this method, however. Firstly, the cables that go from the computer to the TV can look messy and be a tripping hazard. Secondly, you need to dedicate a computer to producing the TV, meaning that you cannot use it for anything else, while viewing.
Summary of methods
Ease of Use
A new TV is expensive to buy, but no extra cost if already have one with internet capability
Usually easy once connected to router via a cable or wifi
Similar to above
Similar to above
Streaming Media Box
$50 - $100
Usually straightforward to set up.
Easy to set up.
Laptop or PC
Low. Usually just need to buy an HDMI or VGA cable.
Can be awkward to set up sometimes, depending on the particular TV and computer.