Move Over DVR, Internet Streaming Rocks!

I’ve always been a huge fan of TiVo. I’ve upgraded the size of our TiVo hard drive twice, and we now have 523 hours of recording time in basic quality or 142 hours of best quality record time for all of the movies and shows we like to watch. But lately, I haven’t been using our DVR as much. I’ve built something into our home theater system that has changed the way we watch TV. I connected my digital big screen television with an extra computer to allow web surfing and video streaming of movies and TV shows, all on the big screen.

This is not new technology, of course. I got the idea when I was researching Blue Ray DVD players. Those DVD players have an Ethernet port and allow the user to view YouTube videos, go to Amazon.com and a few other selected websites. But to me, that seemed very limiting. Why would I limit myself to surfing a few pre-selected websites? Not to mention the challenge when new technologies and websites emerge on the internet. Another aspect of this equation I was considering is that when watching a movie online, it is very limiting to watch on a computer screen. The screen is small, the volume is low and you just can’t stretch out and have a cozy movie experience.

So I set out to create a system that would allow us to surf the internet on the big screen and stream movies that would be just like putting in a DVD without the hassle of downloading a big file or burning a DVD. Since most of the Internet TV and movie sites in the States (i.e. http://www.hulu.com) use IE, the next logical step was to plug the computer into the TV and make that work. What I found is that as soon as these two are plugged into each other you can play any content on any site with no compromises. Having it all on the big screen has been worth all of the work – just click Full Screen and the picture will show on your TV the same as if you put in a DVD.

This whole experiment has completely enhanced our home theater experience! This is much easier to do than it may seem.

Here are the ingredients that you’ll need:
1. PC computer running Widows (you could probably get this to work on a Mac, but I used a PC)
2. A Video card that is specifically made to support HDMI output (digital TV format)
3. A DVI to HDMI cable (this may come with your video card, if not, you’ll need to get one)
4. A reasonably fast Internet connection
5. A current TV with an HDMI input connector

If you take the time to put all of this together you may even decide to cancel your satellite or cable provider all together!

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