Free Online TV Shows on Your PC
"With the economic down turn I am interested in free online TV. I have an HP Pavilion dv6700 (with an hdmi port) using Windows Vista. I also received a remote control with my laptop but am currently trying to find it. I have a 42" HDTV that I would like to connect to my computer. I also use the Harmony One all- in-one remote control by Logitec."
My questions are:
Can I do this? Can I get HD quality TV over the internet? Will picture quality suffer from moving from my laptop to a larger 42" HDTV screen size? What is the minimum broadband speed needed and what is optimal speed? Can use the remote I have? Can you make a favorites list with the equipment I have or do I need a software program for managing the channels and movie downloads?
To answer your questions in order:
Yes you can do this. We're still in the fairly early stages of the free stuff working, but if you're willing to compromise on the full HDTV experience you get from places like DirectTV, then you absolutely can get a cheaper HDTV experience. Hulu Plus and Netflix are both bringing us closer to a truely great HD streaming experience.
Some high definition television is available from the Internet for free, although it's still not widely available. The widest selection of free HDTV is available via Hulu, with additional offerings from various TV network websites. If you're willing to spend a few dollars on services like Netflix, you can round out your HDTV experience further.
The picture quality of the image on your HDTV should be the same as the picture quality on your computer monitor at the same resolution. If your computer monitor is set to 1280x720 (for instance) and your TV is also 1280x720, then the picture quality will be close to identical. There are variables like the type of optics used in the construction of the two displays, but from a pure video display standpoint you should get a virtually identical result.
HD streams will work on connections as slow as 1.5Mbps, but faster is definitely better. I'd aim for at least a 15Mbps connection to allow for anything else you might be doing with your connection. If FIOS is available in your area, then your video will look even better.
The Harmony One is compatible with some PC applications, but you'd definitely need an RF receiver connceted to your computer for it to work. It may not work with every possible HDTV option on your PC. There are a number of universal remotes for computers, although I tend to like the Logitech options better than most.
Most of the free HDTV is fairly piecemeal at this point, so getting it all pulled together with software won't necessarily work across the board. There are some inexpensive solutions like PlayOn that help integrate media for a more set top box like experience, but I have found them to be a mixed bag in terms of how well they actually perform. You might be better served by getting a wireless keyboard for your computer, that allows you to browse to the content you want from the comfort of your couch.