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Thread: watching TV on-line

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    watching TV on-line

    This was getting buried in an unrelated thread. So I've pulled in out to get further clarification.

    I do not currently subscribe to cable TV. Too expensive for what is offered. Antennas are totally useless here in the mountains.

    I am envisioning a flat screen mounted on the wall in front of my lounger, fed by a computer that is on-line. Here on the questions:

    1. What are the minimum necessary specifications for the flat-screen? Inputs and outputs? Cabling?

    2. What is the minimum download speed to watch without pauses? And how to you check your download speed? I have cable now but the service is really lousy. DSL has become available and I am willing to change if that would be better.

    3. What specific computer specifications are needed?

    4. What about sound? Currently, I have no sound system at all. I would subscribe to Pandora if I had any kind of a sound system besides the computer speakers. I would like to 'pipe' the sound downstairs and outside to wherever I am working.

    5. Where does one get 'content' to watch? I am mostly interested in serial shows and movies. Occasionally, news. Local news is not important, because it is not local to me anyway.

    6. What are the costs with regard to content?

    You can readily see that I am in over my head here. I do not and cannot spend big bucks here, I am not an audiophile so I am happy with whatever works. So much the better if I can scrounge thrift stores for elements of this build.

    I appreciate your help. I am going to open a file and log your answers and suggestions by question number so I can ferret out a plan of action.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Carol,

    Please see responses below...

    1. What are the minimum necessary specifications for the flat-screen? Inputs and outputs? Cabling?

    HDMI inputs come standard on most flat screen monitors these days. You'll likely get a cable with your TV. You'll need a video card with HDMI output on your computer. This one is twice the price of the one I'm running: http://www.microcenter.com/single_pr...uct_id=0334350


    2. What is the minimum download speed to watch without pauses? And how to you check your download speed? I have cable now but the service is really lousy. DSL has become available and I am willing to change if that would be better.

    Either cable or DSL will work. Here's one way to test your speed: http://www.speedtest.net/

    DSL speeds vary anywhere from 800 K to several megabytes, depending on your provider. A quick inquiry will let you know where your provider will fall in that range.


    3. What specific computer specifications are needed?

    A fairly recent computer. The real bottlenecks are in memory and the video card. Two gig of memory should be fine, and that's pretty standard these days.

    4. What about sound? Currently, I have no sound system at all. I would subscribe to Pandora if I had any kind of a sound system besides the computer speakers. I would like to 'pipe' the sound downstairs and outside to wherever I am working.

    Sound cards are dirt cheap. You can get one that runs 5:1 for about 20 bucks. Get one that's compatible with your motherboard (PCI, PCI-e, etc.). Speakers cost more, or you can use the on board speakers on the TV / Monitor.


    5. Where does one get 'content' to watch? I am mostly interested in serial shows and movies. Occasionally, news. Local news is not important, because it is not local to me anyway.

    Hulu.com is your best friend. So is a streaming subscription to netflix. With those two things, you'll have more content to watch than you'll have time...


    6. What are the costs with regard to content?

    Hulu is free. Netflix is pretty cheap. You're not looking at a major investment.

    So much the better if I can scrounge thrift stores for elements of this build.

    Forget thrift shops. Microcenter.com or new egg or one of those places. They're cheaper than thrift shops.

    I appreciate your help. I am going to open a file and log your answers and suggestions by question number so I can ferret out a plan of action.


    Other people will have better answers for you. I'm actually not a hardware guy, but we have several on the site. I bow to their expertize.

    Thanks,

    Bill
    Last edited by Bill Lantry; 01-04-2011 at 04:21 AM.

  3. #3
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    Bill hit the nail.

    Not really sure of what bandwidth you'll need, but if you jump over to Hulu and see if your current internet will support it. A lot of the major networks have shows on it. There will be a 2 minute or so commercial about every 5 to 10 minutes (shows are about 20 minutes average). If it's way choppy I'd run the speed test that Bill posted to see how fast your download speed is.

    We're using hulu in our kitchen since we didn't want to pay for another cable box. I'm running an older pc and using the vga input, not hdmi. It's a little grainy and slow loading, but it also needs some more memory in the computer.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
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    Aug 2007
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    Reno NV
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    Carol, How do you connect to the internet?

    Them city fellers have it easy with their DSL and Cable and FiOS connections.

    I've had Satellite and now have terrestrial wireless.

    Satellite would not be a good choice. You would hit their bandwidth limits very quickly.

    Terrestrial wireless 'might' work, but you might find that you'd have some significant 'lag' at times.

    3g? 4g? Not sure how those work, but I've heard they do have some bandwidth limits.

    With Satellite, once you download your limit, you get shut back down to dial up speed.

    My connection works, but it's not fast, and I wouldn't want to get 'all' of my TV through it. Satellite TV is fairly inexpspensive for the basic packages and reliable. Depends on what/how much you want to watch...

  5. #5
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    If the bandwidth is acceptable. A different alternative to a pc would be a Roku device. It's supports both Netflix and Hulu (both require subscription, but under $20 a month total for both) in High definition output.
    Last edited by Darren Wright; 01-04-2011 at 04:43 AM.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Escondido, CA
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    Thanks, guys.

    @Brent. Currently I have a cable modem. The system is old and shakey. They used to give us a break on the monthly fee because they are unable to give us the same service as the rest of their customers. But some bean counter figured out they were the only game in town and rescinded that thought. The company has been sold and new management takes over in March. Who knows what that will bring?!?

    @Bill. Thanks for the speed link. I'll do that.

    @Darren. Re-read the Roku ad. This is a player? It is different that a Blu-Ray player? This replaces the PC? Is this a brand only distinction, or is there something else I should know?

    For everyone. Any recommendations on flat screen TV's? For my small house something less than 40+ inches ought to be big enough, even for my aging vision.
    Last edited by Carol Reed; 01-04-2011 at 06:17 AM.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Wright View Post
    If the bandwidth is acceptable. A different alternative to a pc would be a Roku device. It's supports both Netflix and Hulu (both require subscription, but under $20 a month total for both) in High definition output.
    Darren,

    Do you get the basic Hulu on that, or only Hulu plus? What about youtube, etc? Any web surfing?

  8. #8
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    Mar 2007
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    Download speed test came in at .54 mb/s.

    What do I need?
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Billings Missouri near Springfield Mo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    Download speed test came in at .54 mb/s.

    What do I need?
    DSL
    A Turn N Time
    Components for John Smith Organs and the Hobby Organ Builder

    Frog Pond Guitars


    Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

  10. #10
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    Thanks, Jay, but I was looking for a number I could use to beat up my cable company with.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

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