There are lots of great Websites that let you download your favorite television shows and movies for free. If you don't want to watch your favorite show or a movie on your computer's small screen, there are several methods for connecting your PC to your TV or getting Internet content on your TV, ranging from simple cables to more complex (and feature-rich) wireless kits.
Watch GolfHr Research Institute test engineer Rachel Rothman walk you through the process.
The easiest and often most inexpensive method for linking your computer with your TV is a matching cable connection (i.e., TV has VGA input and computer has VGA output). If you have the capability (both pieces of equipment have the proper ports), HDMI cables allow for better video quality. Just plug the cables into both devices and install any necessary software from the CD included with the cables, and you'll be able to watch downloaded programs on your TV in no time. The limitation of this setup: Your computer has to be near your TV (limited by the length of the cables).
If there isn't a match between video inputs to outputs, it may still be possible to connect the two. Most computers are equipped with the following: 15-pin VGA output, DVI connection, or S-video output. While analog TVs traditionally have only an S-video input, digital TVs have one of the three just mentioned. VGA or DVI will offer better image quality, so if you have those options use them first. Prior to connecting, download the latest drivers for your computer's video card (look in the manual, in your computer's help menus, and on the CD included with the cables for more information).
Though wireless kits can seem complex, this method of linking your TV and PC eliminates cable clutter, allowing you to stream content between the two devices, even from room to room or across the house.
Try a media player, like D-Link's PC-on-TV (Model DPG-1200, $230, dlink.com), which lets you stream Internet and computer content like movies, photos, and music without any cables. One benefit of such a device is that it allows you to connect to one or many network-enabled computers located in a different parts of your house: The PC-on-TV Media Player's remote control allows you to control your PC remotely, so you can play movies and launch applications on your TV as if you're using a mouse at the computer.
IOGEAR's wireless audio/video kit ($350, iogear.com) is another wireless choice for linking your TV and one PC. IOGEAR's system offers wireless audio and HD video, operates very fast, and is easy and secure to set up. Another advantage is that the kit includes a certified wireless USB, which will work with other certified products.
The Xbox 360 Console ($300, xbox.com) isn't just for video games: With a free Xbox Live subscription you can rent movies and get TV downloads. Kids can enjoy its free trials of hundreds of games and add-ons (including new songs, levels, and characters). With an Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter ($100, xbox.com), you can stream recorded TV shows, movies, and videos from a PC with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center to your console. Plus, when you subscribe to any Netflix plan over $8.99 that offers unlimited streaming, you gain access to more than 12,000 movies and TV shows if you have an Xbox LIVE Gold account ($50, xbox.com). Xbox Gold also offers photo sharing, plus gaming extras like online gaming and Xbox LIVE parties. Soon, Xbox LIVE Gold will also connect you to Twitter, Facebook, and more. To see the other devices that offer live streaming of Netflix videos, check out Rachel's blog.
In the market for a new television? Another option that requires no additional cables or hardware is to invest in an Internet-connected TV. Most of the major TV manufacturers offer Internet-ready devices, which, while they don't allow you to surf all over the Web, have partnered with various sites like YouTube, Flickr, Amazon Video on Demand, and more. To see a more complete list of Internet-ready TVs, see Rachel's blog post.