Make your dumb TV smart: use your laptop to get it online

About The Author

CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

The future!

(Credit: Apple; fedek6, royalty free; CBS Interactive)

Difficulty

Just like 3D, the TV industry is hoping that smart TVs — that is, TVs that can connect to the internet — will halt the price slide and reinvigorate the flat panel market.

Unlike the 3D push, which had a lot of money behind it but was always doomed to draw a "meh" from the crowd, smart TV has a chance of seriously altering the industry.

While being able to browse the internet and stream video through your TV (otherwise known as IPTV) is certainly a step forward, it runs a few dangers, most notably that of fragmentation.

Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, LG — no matter which manufacturer you go to you'll find a different execution, different interface, different feature-set and even different content for your television. There's a long way to go in presentation too, with interfaces proving clunky at best.

There's also a trap for newcomers: since you'll be connecting to the internet to get some of your TV content, this will affect the download/upload quotas of your internet account. Heavy watching could see your quota disappear rather quickly, unless your ISP has signed a peering deal for the content in question.

Still, it's a glimpse at the future, but it's very early stages, and if you already have a large screen TV you're better off looking into other ways to get the internet on your TV.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 for one is making a huge push, with Foxtel, movies and TV series available for purchase. Sadly, only BigPond offers Foxtel content quota free.

There's also FetchTV from iiNet, Westnet and Internode, which are quota free from those ISPs. Adam Internet and Optus are expected to get FetchTV soon too.

They would all like to drink your digital milkshake. (Credit: Microsoft, Apple, FetchTV)

Then you've got the likes of AppleTV, even if the local catalogue is decimated compared to the US one. The options aren't limited for getting IPTV on the box.

But what if you wanted a better, more flexible experience? What if you just wanted to use the humble PC?

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idiotphone4lover posted a comment   
Australia

Want a smart TV Laptop Computer, with 17.3" FULL HD & HDMI 1.4 out?

Get the Asus G73sw ($2399).
Backlit full keyboard with num pad, 17.3 full HD (1920 x 1080) screen with led backlight, Blu-ray burner, USB3, SDXC, 2 x 500gb HHD, Intel i7 2630QM, Nvidia GTX460m with 1.5gb ddr5 vram, HDMI v1.4 and 8gb of ram. With free Asus mouse & backpack.
With 2 year Warranty.

 

CampbellS posted a comment   

Sounds like the best thing to do to is use an HDMI connection to play all your media. Wireless is too slow and clunky. You could buy a media box . I have a western digital that plays all movies incl MKV , H264 MP4 , AVI , in fact it has played everything I have thrown at it. Now they come with internet connections , and stream content. The thing is auntil Australia telcos get into some sort of arrangement with US content providers we will forvever be getting 'this is not availble in your country ' for most things. Hulu is useless in Aus for example.

 

jbray posted a comment   
Australia

Ha, that's exactly my HTPC (Antec Fusion). Have been running it for 3.5years now (via Windows Media Center and other bits and pieces), and I still love the setup. Allows you to do anything, and the current SmartTV push by the manufacturers is also a "meh" for me, I couldn't think of anything worse than trying to struggle with the limitations of what's programmed into a TV.




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