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.

Software that makes it easier

For those who want their experience to be more media-centre-like, on Windows there is at least Windows Media Center. It's quite good for something that comes free with your operating system, although you'll likely want to install some extra codecs so more videos will play back.

For an even nicer experience, try the Media Browser plug-in, which brings things a little closer to the visual splendour of XBMC, another media centre app. If you're on the Mac side, we'd definitely favour XBMC over the included FrontRow.

Media Browser

Media Browser gives Windows Media Center a fresh coat of paint. Ladies not included.
(Credit: Media Browser)

Finally, if you want a browsing experience more optimised towards TV, you could give Kylo a try, crazy ring controller optional.

What's next?

If you've been bitten by the capabilities of your laptop on your TV, but are more attracted to the video side and large screen-friendly interfaces, perhaps it's time to start looking into building a full-fledged Home Theatre PC (HTPC). Hooked up over gigabit Ethernet, with TV tuners, proxies to get access to Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and Pandora, running XBMC with the official remote installed on your smartphone, perhaps an infrared remote, all linked to a heavily decked out NAS containing your local digital media library and tweaked to the extreme with advice from AVSForum. But that, friends, is another story...

Antec Fusion Remote Black

The Antec Fusion Remote Black chassis. One potential home for one potential HTPC.
(Credit: Antec)

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idiotphone4lover posted a comment   

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   

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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