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Your TV Should Have its Own Computer

Updated on April 10, 2015

Setting up your all-in-one system

First, you'll need a decent computer, an HDMI Cable, a wireless mouse and a wireless keyboard. It helps if your TV is 1080p. Now, methodically and gleefully unplug all of your other gadgets, toss them to the side, and plop down your computer prominently in the absence of this aforementioned mess of tangled wires and boxes.

Make sure your computer is turned off. Take your HDMI cable, plug one end into a port on either your graphics card or motherboard, and plug the other end into any of the now abundantly free HDMI jacks on your TV. Start that baby up. Your operating system should recognize what type of display you have and adjust automatically. Plug in the USB dongles for your mouse and keyboard, and your computer will automatically install the necessary drivers.

With this new setup, you can do away with your cable box, Roku, Playstation, Xbox, DVD player, and pretty much any other peripheral you use to access any type of media. You will never have to switch inputs again, and everything you could ever want to do on a screen is now a potential hotlinked click away. Allow yourself a minute to fully realize the thunderous efficiency you just bestowed upon your life.

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Working on your TV at home

Your television is now a fully working computer. This step is mindbendingly easy, everything you previously used is in the same spot it always was. The only difference is now you have a massive workspace instead of your tiny old display. You can now easily switch from watching House of Cards to answering that email that just came in, all without getting up from your comfy-ass couch.

If you installed this setup with a new computer, and don't know how to get your emails, just download Thunderbird (linked below). You can use this utility to access pretty much any email domain that isn't on a secure server. Don't even worry about installing a new version of Office or iWork, with the Google Docs suite (also linked), you can do pretty much anything you would on either of these utilities. Another benefit of Google Docs is that it updates your documents seamlessly across all of your devices and saves your work automatically. No more worrying about crashes or the Blue Screen of Death, as far as your work is considered.

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Watching movies and shows

There are two main types of television media that you'll be wanting to access through your new rig, live television and pre-recorded shows and movies. I will go over both.

Live Television: if you already have an account with a cable company, chances are you are able to access every network within your contract from any web browser, I suggest Chrome. You can even piggypack on someone else's account in most cases, for about five devices. All you need to do is go to the website of that network and possibly let them know what cable provider you have. A good example would be HBO. Just go to HBOGO.com, make an account, select your cable provider, and have access to all of your favorite shows. They'll probably be on-demand, and you might not even have to watch commercials, which is just... wow.

Pre-Recorded TV and Movies: Everyone by now is familiar with Netflix and Hulu. Obviously, since these are meant to be accessed through a web browser, you'll have no problem here. What I would like to do is go over how to hotlink your favorite shows. Once you get to the screen of one of your favorites, hit that little star button on the top left of Chrome. Rename the page to the name of your show, and make a new folder called TV, Netflix, or something. Now your favorite shows are just a click away, immediately available in your browser. Allow me to welcome you to the future.

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Playing videogames

Playing videogames is undeniably awesome, but new consoles and games can be super expensive. Luckily, with your new rig, you have access to an innumerable amount of games, typically for much cheaper, using the same computer you already have. All you have to do is download Steam, the leading desktop gaming program which is linked below, and survive the shocking barrage of endless titles.

If you have an Xbox controller, just plug that beast into one of your USB ports and everything installs automatically. If you have a Mac, but you also like gaming, go buy/build a PC. If you prefer to use a Playstation controller, like me, you can download a free emulator from Scarlet Productions that forces compatibility. I have linked the asset page and tutorial for this spectacular resource. Even if you want to play a keyboard/mouse game with a controller, there's a program for that too called Pinnacle Game Profiler, also linked.

The best thing about PC gaming is that there is an independent community of game developers that are staunchly dedicated to providing revolutionary titles on Steam at a fraction of the cost of triple A developers. The other great thing is you still have access to most of these big games, if you so choose. You may have to up your system specs a bit to have more demanding games run at high quality, but the cost of these components are much lower than dedicated gaming consoles. They are also modular, so you will be much less likely to fall behind the performance curve.

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Listening to music

You're getting the trend now. Pretty much everything you want to do, you can do on one gigantic screen that is just sitting there playing the rabid grumblings of Bill O' Reilly on a loop. Listening to music is another one of these such things. Just download a desktop version of Spotify, Pandora, or basically any other music software you use, and your music library will be automatically imported to your new, all-in-one magic rig. I hope you take advantage of these suggestions, for your life has the ability to become vastly more efficient and enjoyable. Thanks for reading!

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Everything Else

Seriously everything can be done with your new rig. If you run into any problems, try a quick google search and I'm positive a solution will be made available to you. If you are still having trouble, let me know in the comments and we will find a solution.

Note: If there's anything you would like to do on your main TV that I haven't covered already, please let me know in the comments and I will add a module explaining exactly how to go about that. If any of these steps are confusing to you, also let me know and I will do a better job of explaining them in a more accessible manner.

Technical Note: Newer TVs and PCs have all the nessesairy components to complete all the objectives outlined above. This works best if you have a high resolution TV with HDMI outputs and a decent refresh rate for gaming. Modern TVs all have HDMI ports, but you can also use an older VGA port with an HDMA adapter. If you have a Mac, you can get a MiniPort to HDMI adapter and this will work. If you have an older piece of hardware and are having trouble setting anything up, let me know and I will do my best to find a solution that works for you.

How do you watch TV?

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    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @PP: some people have trouble with bigger lower res screens and large text, or they feel like their head has to move around too much because of the extra workspace. If you hold "Ctrl" and tap "-" your browser will zoom out. If you still hate it, stick with the laptop. I personally love sitting back on the couch with a wireless keyboard and watching my thoughts unfold like a movie on a gigantic screen. I mean that in the least narcissistic tone possible, haha.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i did try using the hdmi cable connected to my laptop, the view was big , wide and great for watching movies but not blogging.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Glenn: that is great news, seems almost insignificantly far away from zero.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Luke, it's even much better than that! I use an HDTV as my monitor and its response time is 5 ms.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @glenn: yeah with the lower cost of these displays nowadays, there should be no real reason to complain. If hardcore gamers are really worried about it, they can look up the specs on a site like displaylag before purchasing. Decent HDTVs are getting lag down to around 25ms, which most people will never ever notice.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Luke, I'm glad you confirmed the same thing and have no latency issues. I've been getting a lot of complaints from gamers commenting in my hub on the same topic. They don't realize that the new smart TV's are much better.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @John: Yeah it's weird how people can overlook a very simple answer to a very real efficiency problem. That's why I wrote this, in an attempt to bring some greater convenience to people's lives.

      @Glenn: Agreed. I have never realized any latency issues with the screen, even during my Crushing run of Uncharted 3, which was brutal. Like you said, pretty much all new smart TVs will have sufficiently low lag, high enough frame rates., and decent resolution.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I use a 24 inch HDTV as my computer monitor. I connected it with the HDMI port just as you explained. I find it offers the best value over the cost of regular monitors, with excellent video, and even has better audio quality.

      For gamers who question this, most Smart TVs today have a response time of less than 5 ms, which is fine for fast-paced games.

    • John Albu profile image

      John Albu 

      3 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102

      Yes, @Luke, technology keeps advancing way faster than culture. It looks so weird when people complain in social networks about the boring, monotonous content on the TV and the need to watch it "because it sux to watch that content on a smaller computer screen" in 2015, when they can fix that problem with a single cable and choose what THEY want to watch!

    • Alexdi profile image

      Alex Di Grant 

      3 years ago

      Yeah, Awesome! Thanks!

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @greatstuff: haha, yeah your family probably wouldn't be pleased with you taking over the main screen, but would likely appreciate the increased functionality. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 

      3 years ago from Malaysia

      I got to buy another TV if I were to follow this..otherwise it will be WAR!!

      The kids and wife have their own favorite programs and I have no access to the TV at all!

      Anyway, this is a good idea & I have to bookmark for future reference.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @John: Yup, for me the realization was a bit slower. I was literally browsing the web from my PS3 on my big TV for a computer monitor for my new rig... finally I was like "wait, wtf am I doing?" and just grabbed a spare HDMI cable. I've never told anyone that though, haha. Here you go internet.

      The reason I wanted to post this is because I keep seeing family members and friends struggle with all the different remotes and devices. When they want to watch a certain show they need to boot up a game console, then they want to answer an email and have to go in a whole other room... that kind of thing. Whenever people see my rig they're always like "holy shit I never thought of that," so I figured there were people online that would also benefit.

    • John Albu profile image

      John Albu 

      3 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102

      I connected my computer to my first Plasma over a decade ago already... Seemed like the most natural thing to do back then and still feels today. The larger - the more comfortable! :)

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Kristen: Thank you very much for reading. You may know already, but you can find almost anything On Demand on the provider/network's website. Save's me a lot of time when I'm bouncing around stations/shows.

      @Stacey: Yes, my current setup runs through a 60" Sony "Smart TV" and I have completely circumvented its UI. The apps are definitely a step in the right direction for mom/pop viewers, but the network cards in these TVs are atrocious, which really has an impact on streaming. I have found the apps to be rather clunky and non-intuitive. Your computer can do everything these apps promise to do and more. I see no reason to use them. If you think of one, please let me know. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Stacey 

      3 years ago

      This is great! Timely too because I just bought a new Sony tv and have no patience with playing around to see what it can do. (I'm not a complete techno tool - I can work in programming code in quantitative modelling, but tv isn't my thing!).

      You seem to do everything through your internet browser and downloaded software, using the tv screen like a large computer monitor. Prior to reading your article I was trying to use the Sony apps on the TV, which usually makes me want to throw the remote and go grab a book. :)

      Have you consciously overlooked the apps because using a browser is simpler?

      Thanks again for all the helpful tips!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Nice hub Luke on how we watch TV on our computers or anywhere have advanced. I now use my DVR to record and later watch TV and do Hulu in the summer. I do love On Demand. Voted up!

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Venkatashari: that is a very good point. Kids and/or roommates are certainly a potential wrench in the mix. Personally, I keep my nicer rig in my bedroom and have a cheaper version out in the mutual rooms, since it's mainly just used for streaming and browsing. If you're working out in the living room, I would suggest creating a public profile and password protecting your main account. Thanks for reading!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting article. I came to know many facts. But, I keep both separate because TV is public, I mean family entertainment and can't make it my private possession. But, your tips may come to use in future.

      Thanks for sharing them. Voted up and interesting.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Catherine: you are quite welcome. I hope you find many more uses for your rig. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Cheers!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I am already using my laptop computer connected to my TV for Netflix, but you told me about so many other things to do with it. Thanks. Voted up and useful.

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