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I have a TV in a room that can only get wireless access to my home network. Without having to drag one of my PCs into the room, what is the best (cheapest) way to watch online movies?

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Could you be more specific on "wireless access"? Does your TV do UPnP or is there an internet browser built in? –  alumb Jul 15 '09 at 17:13
    
Sorry - neither of those. Just that I have a wireless router that would be visible by a device down there in the basement. –  Jeffrey Jul 15 '09 at 17:21

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Assuming you want to watch online movies on the TV and moving the TV is also not a good option, here are some suggestions. You'll have to figure out what's best for you:

  • Run a physical cable from one of your boxes to the TV. Control the system with a wireless remote (RF or networked). iPhone wireless touch pads apps or RDP/LogMeIn/... are good solutions here as well.

  • Use a wireless video transmitter (RF) instead of a physical cable in the above. A little more expensive, but one less visible cable.

  • Use Orb on a Wii.

  • Get a new cheap box to use as a media center PC. Always connected to the TV and connects to wireless. Doesn't need a monitor or a whole lot of power unless you want to go HD.

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Very nice! I hadn't realized a wireless video transmitter was an option. Can these handle an HD signal? –  Jeffrey Jul 15 '09 at 17:26
    
I'm sure there's gotta be one somewhere that can, but I can't imagine they'd be cheap. I played with an analog one a number of years ago and the quality wasn't half bad (projected a live TV feed on a 10' screen), but this was before the days of HD. –  lc. Jul 15 '09 at 17:33

popcorn hour may be an option

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I have the A-110 and would not recommend it. The web integration is clumsy, the UI has navigation issues, and the performance is not good. I only use it to stream content from the internal disk. If I need the Internet on the TV (or even for Audio/Internet radio), I plug in my Asus EEE netbook - with much better results. –  cdonner Sep 23 '09 at 16:38
    
ok, I heard about in linuxactionshow but didn't have personal experience with it. –  kishore Sep 26 '09 at 14:46

If you have an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, then I would recommend checking out PlayOn. It's a piece of software that runs on your PC and acts as a media server for your console. You can watch Hulu, ESPN, CBS amongst other online video services. It also supports other devices if you don't have or don't want a console.

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My wife and I use a very cheap Laptop in our living room, with a wireless keyboard. You can purchase those mini-laptops at Bestbuy for $250-$350 now as well. We're thinking about purchasing it specifically to replace the laptop we're currently using.

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I do have an Acer Aspire One, but it just can't seem to keep the video playing smoothly enough on 720p playback - and only has a VGA video output. –  Jeffrey Jul 15 '09 at 17:31
    
That's pretty much the setup we have. Are you sure there aren't competing-processes fighting for memory-usage, etc? –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 16 '09 at 1:53

For Netflix or Amazon movies, a Roku box works well enough over wireless.

For Hulu, you're much more limited. If you have an Xbox 360 or PS3, you can try the PlayOn addon ($40) for your PC. I don't have any experience with that, so I don't know how well it works.

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