OT: Old laptop to get Internet on TV

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I'm trying to score a cheap or free old laptop so I can watch Internet programs on TV. (I gave up cable; too expensive and too few channels that interest me. I tried OTA with an internal antenna & got a lot of stations, but what crap!
My Panasonic flatscreen TV is about 4 ? years old and has all those HDMI inputs.
So my question is: What do I require in a laptop that will do the job. Does it need to have the equivalent of the TV? Or...?
TIA
HB
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On Sunday, April 6, 2014 9:30:45 PM UTC-4, Higgs Boson wrote:

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/tech-tips-and-tricks/dave-taylor-hdmi-article.html
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On 04/06/2014 06:30 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

You'll pay a lot less for a compatible desktop than you would a laptop. As for specs, it depends on how much resolution you want to watch your shows with. I don't have any trouble with 720p using a circa 2006-ish box using an AMD 64 socket 939 and an ATI x800 GPU (which has composite output).
From my understanding, you won't gain any better picture with HDMI than you would composite connections, you just need to find a video card that outputs with composite (ATI has a number of models with this feature; the connector is a dongle that plugs into a port on the back of the video card that "looks like" an S-video port, but is their own version of a multi-port that has composite and component in and out).
Don't forget to get a cable to connect the soundcard (1/8" stereo) to the TV (RCA).
Alternately, they have USB to HDMI dongles, but that's too fancy for me.
Jon
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On Sunday, April 6, 2014 7:26:13 PM UTC-7, Jon Danniken wrote:

Thanks, Jon
I see I left out some necessary info:
1. My desktop is in another room from TV. I did price cables & connectors from desktop to TV. Need several cables spliced to bridge length, plus some connectors. Got so expensive -- plus the danger of cables dragging all over the floor -- that I ruled out this option.
2. With my eyesight, I want the best resolution I can get. Surprised that you said HDMI no better than VGA! Any countervailing opinions? Any technically established facts?
3. Don't understand about video card. Does it go in laptop or TV? Sorry; this whole caper is new to me.
TIA
HB
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On Sunday, April 6, 2014 11:54:29 PM UTC-4, Higgs Boson wrote:

You can buy cables to pretty much any reasonable length. Long HDMI cables are available on Ebay for a reasonable price, for example. You'll go broke if you buy them at Walmart and try to join them together.

Unless you have improving eyesight, I think you have that backwards. Poorer vision, higher resolution isn't going to make as much difference as it will if you have perfect+ vision.

The video card is in the PC. Depends what you want to do and what form factor you want. You could get a notebook or use a desktop.
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On Monday, April 7, 2014 6:04:01 AM UTC-7, trader_4 wrote:


Sigh Have to look up all those terms, Am I getting an education!
[,,,snip..] >


(Smacks forehead.) Right! Discouraged by Best Buy splice cable experience, didn't think to check on-line.

I do not understand this resolution thing. I thought the sharper the better. Even went to Wikipedia article on TV resolution and now understand even less.

OK, I'm an idiot; the video card goes in computer.

Desktop no; not in same room as TV. Notebook maybe not bad idea, if not expensive. Sole purpose is to watch Internet programs on TV. So if low-end laptop is cheaper than notebook...
Thanks
HB
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On Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:08:01 AM UTC-4, Higgs Boson wrote:

The higher the resolution, the more detail that is maintained. So, you have it right. That assumes that the resolution is maintained, ie if you take a high resolution source, eg blueray and display it on a low resolution TV, you're not going to see it. It also makes more difference on a larger display than a smaller one. Put a moderate resolution image on a 70" display and it's going to look worse than it will on a 17"

Did you look at Chromecast and similar, as others have recommended? I'm no expert, but that is the direction the world is moving, ie streaming video directly to the TV either with an internet interface in the TV or using a Chromecast or similar device. One advantage the notebook would have is that it can also serve as a DVR, ie it can record video. There are also many DVR solutions out there that have HD tuners plus the ability to view internet content. That's a constantly changing area, IDK which ones allow viewing what internet content, but I think it's worth checking out.
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On 4/6/2014 11:54 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

we couldn't get our most watched network. All of the shows we watch were available the next day on the CBS website. So, I streamed them to may little Dell laptop, which has an HDMI port. It was a royal pain. First, my 3 meg DSL could barely keep up. I found that it worked a little better with a wired network connection rather than wifi. Second, every time it would freeze, you'd have to get up and restart the stream. Luckily, it would pick up close to where it froze. Sometimes it would run good for an hours show, sometimes it would freeze multiple times. I found completely dropping the connection and starting over seemed to help. Third, you have to watch their commercials. And because there seems to be a rather low number of commercials, you see the same one over and over and over ... you get it. I know there are ways to record a show and skip the commercials (a PC based DVR), but who would have thought CBS would be dark for almost 5 weeks. This Dell laptop processor is only 1.2Gig, so that might be a part of it. Streaming to my desktop, with more horsepower, was much better. With this same 3 Meg DSL, I can stream baseball games to the TV directly, but it is herky-jerky. The TV app for MLB.com doesn't have any way to reduce the resolution. Now with MLB.com to the same laptop or tablet, it is a little reduced in resolution and it works pretty good. I can then plug the laptop or tablet into the TV (HDMI) and get ok results. The laptop app for MLB has some auto speed thing. I think the tablet is similar. BTW, I think the Dish/local affiliate standoff is most the local affiliate's want to grab as much $$$ as possible. If Dish or any cable company, just gives in and pays, our cable/satellite bills would go up rapidly once they pay on provider ... they'll all want it even though we still have to watch the commercials. And maybe they see the fact that eventually everything will probably be streamed. Sorry for being so long winded.
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Higgs Boson wrote:

signal cable that long. video/audio card is peripheral controller for PC. Usually now in PCIe slot.
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On 4/6/2014 11:54 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

OK, I just read that you have a router.
I don't know what kind of desktop you have, what operating system or internet speed, but If you can watch streaming video on your desktop w/o any problems you can buy a USB wifi adapter and a Chromecast dongle then you can stream video from your desktop to your TV.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Edimax-EW-7811Un-150Mbps-Wireless-11n-Nano-Size-USB-Adapter/17419471
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Google-Chromecast-HDMI-Streaming-Media-Player/33142918
You will have to get the router up and working, then get a connection from the router to the wifi adapter and then follow the instructions for the Chromecast.
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Jon Danniken wrote:

just analog 2 channel? Even on 2 channel, digital audio carried by HDMI cable sounds better(say Dolby for example?) HDMI one cable vs. 3 caables carry inferior video/audio......
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On 04/06/2014 07:26 PM, Jon Danniken wrote:

That should say, "component", *not* composite.
Jon
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Jon Danniken wrote:

Component is still analog signal plus you have to match it with TOS link or digital coax audio cable 3 wire cumbersome video cable with one more either digital audio cable. HDMI is for simplicity! Now it'll carry Ethernet signal and USB signal altogether pretty soon. If you don't like HDMI, blame Sony who brought about HDMI.
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wrote:

The Roku devices or maybe the Chrome would be worth checking out. I have one of the Big Roku devices and there is lots to get. Also for less than $ 10 per month you can get access to some regular TV such as HULU Plus.
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On Sun, 6 Apr 2014 18:30:45 -0700 (PDT), Higgs Boson

Does your TV have the 15 pin VGA port? Most flat screens to.
Just about any PC will work, certainly anything XP or later.
I have had a PC hooked to my TV for almost 15 years, first just for the MP3s and then later for video content as that started coming on line. It does not have to be a lap top.
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On 4/7/2014 4:12 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

No, they don't.
Between myself and my family members we have 11 flat screen TVs and only one of them has a VGA input...a 32" Westinghouse that is about 7 years old. Hell, it's hard to find a new flat screen that even has a separate set of component and composite inputs now. Manufacturers are starting to use component/composite hybrid inputs.
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On Sun, 06 Apr 2014 19:27:49 -0700, Jon Danniken

HDMI won't be any better than the 15 pin VGA port that every PC has, particularly if you have a decent video card. (1280 x 1024 or better)
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On Sun, 6 Apr 2014 20:54:29 -0700 (PDT), Higgs Boson

You can just get another desk top style PC for way less that $100 these days. Get the small format system unit and it won't take up any more room than a lap top. Get the blue tooth adapter and you can use a small keyboard/mouse that will work up to 30 feet away. The TV is the monitor
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| I'm trying to score a cheap or free old laptop so I can watch Internet programs on TV. (I gave up cable; too expensive and too few channels that interest me. I tried OTA with an internal antenna & got a lot of stations, but what crap! |
I don't have any advice about hardware details, but I would suggest that you find a way to check out your *real* options before spending the money. I get Netflix DVDs by mail. At one point I had a chance to see the Netflix streaming service via Roku. I didn't recognize anything in the first window! When I tried some searches it turned out the things I was interested in were not available. It's an all-you- can-eat buffet, so you don't get salmon filets or scallops. By contrast, this past week I saw the following movies via DVD:
* The Great Beauty (Best foreign film Oscar 2014. A stunningly good movie.)
* The Past (another impressive, recent release that you won't see in the theater chains)
* Gravity (idiotic junk but nevertheless a recent hit movie)
I think we pay something like $13/month for the DVD service.
What I'm saying is that if you think what's available via antenna is junk then you might not be terribly impressed by online fare.
Another aspect I wonder about in the longterm is the general logistics. As streaming becomes more popular, something has to give somewhere. The ISPs are going to want a piece of the action if entertainment streaming begins to dwarf the actual Internet. I don't want to spend time and money today only to find that all the prices go way up 2 years down the road, and I end up with just an overpriced alternative to overpriced cable TV.
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The site you linked says so...
"Googles Chromecast is a small dongle that plugs into a spare HDMI port on your TV to stream media from the internet to the living room screen using your smartphone, tablet or computer as a remote."

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