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Glad to have you here but remember, you could be spending your time more wisely. Family, friends, maybe even your job if you are really pushed for something to do. David also writes the Building Our Home Blog as well as the wildly popular Dave’s Mindscape

Friday, January 7, 2011

Internet on my TV

During my recent seasonal employment at Future Shop I was surprised at the number of people asking how to get "the Internet" on their TV.
I’ve been viewing Internet content on mine for a long time for free.
There are commercial solutions such as Apple TV, D-Link’s Boxee Box and Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center.
I would highly recommend visiting the respective company’s websites and reading all the information, FAQ’s and check out the user’s comments under the Support section of the product keeping in mind that some users may not be that tech savvy.
How can you surf on your TV without spending any cash?
If you have an unused computer and a fairly recent TV you have most of what you need.
Connect the computer to your router either wired (preferred method) or wirelessly, plug in the HDMI cable (carries audio and video) to the computer and TV, choose the input source on the TV remote and Voila! The Internet is on your TV.
If your computer does not have an HDMI connection you can use a DVI cable or VGA cable like the one on your monitor for the video and a stereo mini-phone to RCA “y” cable from the computer headphone output to your stereo or TV for sound.
So, what does this give you? Anything you could see and hear on the computer is available on the TV. Family photos, PowerPoint, YouTube, music, movies, Internet stuff and even work if you must. And all for free.
You say you don’t want to sit 3 feet in front of the TV with a mouse and keyboard? Well, you can buy a wireless keyboard and mouse and control things from your easy chair or download the free TIGHTvnc server on the TV computer and TIGHTvnc viewer on your laptop and remotely control the TV computer.
My solution is not quite as elegant as the commercial solutions and may require a bit more work to set up but I like the price, the features available with a computer and I already know how to operate it.
What if you need to buy some parts?
I like to support local retailers but some things like cables are much cheaper online.
HDMI cables run $7 and up online at Tigerdirect.ca. Retail they cost $28.
VGA cables online $13. Retail $44.
DVI to HDMI online $32 .Retail $50 or Monster Cable $150
3' Mini-RCA Audio Cable online $7. Retail $11.
Wireless keyboard and mouse online $43 retail $23. Go figure.
If you don’t have an extra computer, ask a friend or pick one up online off-lease or refurbished starting at $150 or retail starting at $250.
All prices approximate. I have no affiliation with these companies.

All products trademark of their respective companies.