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Watching Internet Stream or Feeds on TV?
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Selahgal
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October 25, 2010 - 2:32 pm
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This may be out of the areas of knowledge for the site but you all know so much about so many things, I wanted to start by asking about this here.

Hubby and I are thinking about ways to watch streaming or on demand feeds from the internet on our TV. Is this even possible? We have three WiFi and cable networked computers already. How exactly does it work if it is possible to use the TV as a computer monitor of sorts? Or at least an access to watch shows via internet. My son does this now via his XBox.

We want to ditch satellite TV but we are too far out in the country to get cable so we're just kicking around a few alternate money saving ideas.

Any ideas or thoughts about it? If you don't know, could you tell me where would be a trustworthy site to find out more?

THANKS as always.

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Jim Hillier
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October 25, 2010 - 4:01 pm
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Hey Marci - What you are wanting is very possible and not too difficult to setup. It's all the rage here at the moment, more and more people are ditching Pay TV and relying more on the internet for their entertainment.

I will not go into details because equipment, costs and systems will differ between the regions but I'm certain some of our learned friends will chip in with all that info.....I'm pretty sure our very own Ziggie has an interest in this subject matter......stand by!!

Cheers....Jim

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Mindblower
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October 25, 2010 - 4:49 pm
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Well Selahgal, I prefer to d/l torrent files, and then watch 'em when I'm good and ready. Unless you have a way to capture the streaming videos (or pause and play) you also consume more bandwidth since they're not compressed. There are pros and cons either way, so it truly depends on your viewing habits and what you're willing to tolerate, Mindblower!

"Light travels faster than sound;
That is why some people seem bright until you hear them speak"

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Selahgal
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October 25, 2010 - 5:09 pm
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Well, right now most likely we're thinking of downloading shows or doing the Netflix thing, which I believe is streaming? Yeah, I don't want to watch a show while it's buffering and I sure don't want to slow down our already overtaxed bandwidth! I do own Window Media Recorder which records live stream as well for later viewing.

Tell me more about torrent files. I believe my son does that. Is that a P2P set up and if so, isn't that risky for getting viruses and such?

Marci

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Mindblower
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October 26, 2010 - 7:03 am
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Yes and No to all your questions. Downloading torrents does require a program (I prefer using uTottent as it's small and works great) and it's peer to peer (P2P) sharing. As for getting infected, it depends on several factors. Best way to avoid a risk, is use a separate dedicated computer with NO personal information on it for starters. Next, NEVER d/l a file with the RAR extension. Torrent files are already compressed, so splitting them up is meaningless. If you''re getting shows, they should have the AVI extension (playable on external DivX units) or using the GOM player on your computer. There are plenty of sites to select your shows, try EZTV for starters, Mindblower!

"Light travels faster than sound;
That is why some people seem bright until you hear them speak"

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Chad Johnson
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October 26, 2010 - 7:49 am
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Wow.

I went down this path myself about a year ago. I'll share my thoughts in a minute.

First - an FYI - in the United States it is illegal to download copyrighted content without the permission of the copyright holder. Many many bittorrent sites and files fall into this illegal category as the copyright holder does [b:1kj2ppm3]not[/b:1kj2ppm3] give permission for content to be downloaded.

That said - I personally have never had an issue downloading files that were aired over the air at my television for free. While not legal in the US, morally I have no problems with it.

OK - as promised:
About a year ago I had a bad breakup with Verizon ([url:1kj2ppm3]http://outsidethefire.org/?p=7[/url:1kj2ppm3]) and decided to cut the ties to paid television. I already had a media center (Windows Vista Ultimate with a TV Tuner to record broadcast television - or even cable shows) so I plugged an antenna in it. I'm fortunate that I live in an area of the world where the broadcast towers are about 5 miles away - so signal is not a problem. We signed on for Netflix at the same time and that got our Disney movie / kid show fix. (My kids love instant streaming). The nice thing about my Media Center setup is that Netflix can be controlled by a remote control.

I pointed Windows Media Center at my 'download' folder, and it can play all of the shows that get downloaded from the Internet.

I attached a wireless keyboard/mouse combo to the media center (its just a computer after all). I am then able to control the computer itself. which means I can use the Hulu Desktop App to watch shows that are on Hulu (it's almost remote control compatible...not quite).

Then there is the web browser - which gets me to youtube, abc, nbc, etc so I can stream shows from various websites.

All in all, since cutting the cord, the amount of content available to us has gone up (only because we were ignoring everything else before). It's not for the feint of heart. No more is there just one place to go to get whatever I want to watch. There's a bit of juggling trying to find what is saved where and what's available to watch when, but for the most part, my family and I have taken it in stride.

Google TV - which I think is coming out soon - is looking to do a lot of this. It's goal is to have one place to go for content even if Google itself is pulling it from all over the Internet. The biggest weakness I've seen is it's lack of DVR support. Not recording OTA broadcasts is a big minus for me. Not so for a lot of people.

Umm....I'll take questions now.

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Mindblower
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October 26, 2010 - 11:31 am
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Well Ziggie, that's a mouthful. Hope you have unlimited bandwidth, as streaming videos demand it (they are not compressed). I though I might peek at what Netflicks has to offer, but they don't offer a compressed format. For those unfamiliar with compressed formats, I'll offer this example. A typical movie in DVD format is over 5 gig in size. Using a program like DVD Shrink you can compress it, but it's still bulky in the DVD format. Torrents are compressed in a typical AVI extension. You'll need a DVD (BlueRay) player which also playes the DivX format to view outside the computer, but that same movie can be compressed within a 700k to 1.5gig range. What's nice is that some players allow users access to USB ports, saving the cost of burning to disk to view on TV. I've hardly noticed any difference, as the quality is that good.

Also the torrents are commercial free, a big plus in reducing u/l and d/l bandwidth. I've not checked this out, but some of the newer Digital recorders allow users to capture streaming videos on the drive for later viewing, making Netflicks and others who offer streaming videos a good alternative (if you have the bandwidth).

I've been d/l torrents for over a year now, and am very happy with the results. Okay, I see the show a few days later, big deal. In the past I'd save to VHS, since I prefer to watch on my time.

And YES Ziggie, there is a fight with the copyright material. If it's broadcast over the airwaves, it's kinda hard to make getting it illegal for personal entertainment, and I'm talking TV shows. The big problem is that recent (still playing in Movie Houses) movies can be d/l too. This is what I avoid, as it's illegal, and not worth the risk.

I've also seen many providers come and go, so as long as I can get my entertainment fix via Internet, I'm happy, Mindblower!

"Light travels faster than sound;
That is why some people seem bright until you hear them speak"

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Selahgal
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October 26, 2010 - 2:24 pm
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Yes and No to all your questions. Downloading torrents does require a program (I prefer using uTottent as it's small and works great) and it's peer to peer (P2P) sharing. As for getting infected, it depends on several factors. Best way to avoid a risk, is use a separate dedicated computer with NO personal information on it for starters. Next, NEVER d/l a file with the RAR extension. Torrent files are already compressed, so splitting them up is meaningless. If you''re getting shows, they should have the AVI extension (playable on external DivX units) or using the GOM player on your computer. There are plenty of sites to select your shows, try EZTV for starters, Mindblower![/quote:3v2tk5qr]

Many thanks for all the advice and info, my friend to the north! Don't have a space computer for the downloads, so if I go that route I'll have to take precautions and charge forth.

Marci

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Selahgal
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October 26, 2010 - 2:32 pm
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Wow.

I went down this path myself about a year ago. I'll share my thoughts in a minute.

First - an FYI - in the United States it is illegal to download copyrighted content without the permission of the copyright holder. Many many bittorrent sites and files fall into this illegal category as the copyright holder does [b:30nsig58]not[/b:30nsig58] give permission for content to be downloaded.

That said - I personally have never had an issue downloading files that were aired over the air at my television for free. While not legal in the US, morally I have no problems with it.

OK - as promised:
About a year ago I had a bad breakup with Verizon ([url:30nsig58]http://outsidethefire.org/?p=7[/url:30nsig58]) and decided to cut the ties to paid television. I already had a media center (Windows Vista Ultimate with a TV Tuner to record broadcast television - or even cable shows) so I plugged an antenna in it. I'm fortunate that I live in an area of the world where the broadcast towers are about 5 miles away - so signal is not a problem. We signed on for Netflix at the same time and that got our Disney movie / kid show fix. (My kids love instant streaming). The nice thing about my Media Center setup is that Netflix can be controlled by a remote control.

I pointed Windows Media Center at my 'download' folder, and it can play all of the shows that get downloaded from the Internet.

I attached a wireless keyboard/mouse combo to the media center (its just a computer after all). I am then able to control the computer itself. which means I can use the Hulu Desktop App to watch shows that are on Hulu (it's almost remote control compatible...not quite).

Then there is the web browser - which gets me to youtube, abc, nbc, etc so I can stream shows from various websites.

All in all, since cutting the cord, the amount of content available to us has gone up (only because we were ignoring everything else before). It's not for the feint of heart. No more is there just one place to go to get whatever I want to watch. There's a bit of juggling trying to find what is saved where and what's available to watch when, but for the most part, my family and I have taken it in stride.

Google TV - which I think is coming out soon - is looking to do a lot of this. It's goal is to have one place to go for content even if Google itself is pulling it from all over the Internet. The biggest weakness I've seen is it's lack of DVR support. Not recording OTA broadcasts is a big minus for me. Not so for a lot of people.

Umm....I'll take questions now. [/quote:30nsig58]

Wow, Zig, my buddy to the south of north podunk Indiana where I live .... that's cool that you've done all that. I don't want anything to do legally OR morally with illegal downloads and such either.

So with Netflix and the Internet, both would mean watching live stream, yes? I watch live streaming shows online all the time right now without any problems. Hubby prefers watching on TV tho. We have DSL and not sure the bandwidth could handle it? DSL is all that we can get out here in the country sticks! But if I can watch stream via my computer ok then it should be ok to watch it on the TV too, yes? I'm not the techie in the house, hubby handles that for the most part so I will let him read your posts and this thread and see if he has any questions for you.

Thanks so much!

Marci

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David Hartsock
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October 27, 2010 - 6:59 am
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So with Netflix and the Internet, both would mean watching live stream, yes? I watch live streaming shows online all the time right now without any problems. Hubby prefers watching on TV tho. We have DSL and not sure the bandwidth could handle it? DSL is all that we can get out here in the country sticks! But if I can watch stream via my computer ok then it should be ok to watch it on the TV too, yes? I'm not the techie in the house, hubby handles that for the most part so I will let him read your posts and this thread and see if he has any questions for you.
Marci[/quote:cxqmmqr5]
Marci,
Vista Home Premium, and Win 7 Home Premium (and Professional) contain a program called Media Center. Ziggie has a computer connected directly to his TV an antenna, and the internet. You can choose a video card that offers the connection type (composite, component, HDMI, DVI, or VGA) best suited to your TV(s). There are other cards you can purchase called capture cards, or Tuner cards which you connect a normal TV antenna to. Media Center acts like a cable box. It allows you to watch local channels and record them on the computer for later playback(DVR).

Media Center can also handle DVD's, video files, and music. There are plugins that allow Media Center to access Hulu (for streaming network TV shows directly) , YouTube, and Netflix (for streaming movies, older network TV series, etc). Basically with an internet connection, a computer, and an antenna Media Center can become a neat all-in-one multimedia device that should solve your live/streaming viewing needs!

All for free less the computer cost and any additional services you subscribe to.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program... (and more info from Zig!)

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David Hartsock
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October 27, 2010 - 9:29 am
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I forgot to add a few things...

1. It is best to have wired ethernet connections between your router/switch and a media center computer if you want a reliable experience and the ability to watch/stream HD material now or in the future.

2. Microsoft Xbox360 act as Media Center Extenders, meaning they extend the functionality of the media center. You could have a Media Center computer running 24/7 in a closet and put an Xbox360 at each TV. Every xbox would have the content and abilities of the media center computer at each TV for much less than the cost of additional computers.

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Selahgal
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October 27, 2010 - 9:34 am
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Thanks Dave! I had hubby read the thread yesterday and all he kept saying was ... how do we watch stuff from the internet on our TV? What do we use as the connection for the TV? How do we control it on the TV?

We have Media Center on our computer but rarely used it. Guess now after what you said I will check it out.

Are you saying you use a cable or wifi or what to connect the computer to the TV? Guess I'm really dense trying to understand this. I mean, I don't want to be sitting in my livingroom recliner with a mouse and keyboard trying to watch streaming vid! How would I control what is being shown on the TV?

Will update hubby when he's home from work.

Thanks much, Dave!!!

Marci

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David Hartsock
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October 27, 2010 - 10:06 am
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Are you saying you use a cable or wifi or what to connect the computer to the TV?[/quote:1saw7qb5]
No, you should have a wired internet connection to the computer for reliability and bandwidth. The method of connection to the TV depends on the TV. If the TV has HDMI you will need a video card that can handle HDMI with HDCP. If your TV only has component inputs you need a video card that had component connections, etc.
I don't want to be sitting in my livingroom recliner with a mouse and keyboard trying to watch streaming vid! How would I control what is being shown on the TV?[/quote:1saw7qb5]
REALLY long cables!

OK, there are a plethora of options for control...
Media Center has the built-in ability (just like your TV) to understand IR codes, which means that any remote labeled "Media Center compatible" or "MCE" will work the Media Center program. You can buy specific media center remotes that will work the program and your TV. All you need is a USB IR dongle to "read" the remote. There are also tiny keyboard/mouse combos, about the size of a paperback book) made specifically for this task that work with IR or bluetooth. They allow you to type words instead of pecking through a show name when you search for things to watch.

[url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&IsNodeId=1&Description=mce%20remote&bop=And&Order=PRICE&PageSize=20:1saw7qb5]Here are some remotes[/url:1saw7qb5]
[url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007709%20600026339&IsNodeId=1&bop=And&ShowDeactivatedMark=False&Order=PRICE&PageSize=20:1saw7qb5]Here are a few HDMI video cards[/url:1saw7qb5] to connect an HDMI equipped TV

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Mindblower
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October 27, 2010 - 10:17 am
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For those who use Firefox, there is a neat Add-On called [b:16jkoao7]Fire Tv button [/b:16jkoao7]which allows you to see tv shows, movies, news, sports, and so much more from around the [i:16jkoao7]WORLD[/i:16jkoao7]. Those wanting a taste of what is out there should give it a try.

An added foot note: There is a quite device called the KVM switch, which allows users to connect several computers and use just ONE monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. This unit allows for instant switching while maintaining an almost single PC work station look. Check out http://www.trendnet.com for more interesting stuff, Mindblower!

"Light travels faster than sound;
That is why some people seem bright until you hear them speak"

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Jim Hillier
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October 27, 2010 - 4:55 pm
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I can well understand hubby's confusion Marci. Although setting up is not as complicated as it sounds on paper, it is not an easy/simple project for the novice.

My 2 bob's worth! Here's what I do:

Download torrents (DivX) and save to HDD on desktop computer.
Transfer torrents (drag 'n drop) to 4GB USB thumb drive.
Plug USB thumb drive into USB port on DivX compliant DVD player/hard drive recorder (connected to TV) and view.

DVD player/hard drive recorder = $340.00aud.......4GB USB thumb drive = $12.50aud.
(The DVD player/hard drive recorder (160GB) was already part of my equipment anyway, I also use that to record from Pay TV and free to air stations)

Simple, easy, inexpensive and effective.

Admittedly you cannot view streaming video live (on the TV) using that method but you [i:1w2xrq39]can[/i:1w2xrq39] download the streaming media to hard drive, convert to compatible format and then view from USB device is the same way. Slightly more complicated but do-able. I don't bother with streaming media myself.

Cheers....Jim

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