The number of U.S. households watching TV through the computer is growing every day. One in four households now does it this way, according to the latest estimates. A few years ago, it was only the one or two percent of techies among us that adopted this technology.
The growing popularity of free online TV is no surprise; the typical person pays some $60/month for cable or satellite (or else gets it free over the air). It's not uncommon to pay over $100/month.
Who couldn't use that money back in your pocket?
In the past, watching online content wasn't exactly practical. Clark recalls years ago when AOL was trying to stay relevant and offered a free TV service. He vowed to try it out and found it to be a horrible experience.
Newer TVs Make the Process Easy
Today's experience, however, is much better. Yet one major roadblock remains the difficulty of actually getting content from your computer to your TV screen.
Hooking your computer up to a newer HDTV is a simple process. If your computer has a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) port -- and your TV has an HDMI input -- just run an HDMI cord of the correct length between the computer and the TV.
Older TV? Don't Fret Just Yet!
But what can you do if you have an older television? Unfortunately, that process has many variables. We've tried to explain some of the most common configurations below. If you need additional help, see the free video below and the additional resources directly beneath the video.
If your computer has only a single video output -- and it will not be used solely with the television -- purchasing a new video card is advisable. Buy one with a Digital Visual Interface (DVI) or an HDMI output, and install it in an available slot, as per the instructions that come with it.
You'll need a special converter if you want to use the Video Graphics Array (VGA) output on a single-output or dual-output card to drive the HDMI display. The converter actually costs about the same price as an entry-level video card that will be easier to use with your TV. So you might want to upgrade the card instead in order to obtain a DVI or HDMI port.
However, if your chosen output port is a DVI, an inexpensive DVI-to-HDMI cable can be purchased to convert your computer's output into the proper HDMI input for your TV.
Need further info on the hookup process? Here are some additional resources:
Find Online Programming
Now that you're ready to get your computer and TV hooked up, where can you actually point your browser to view free TV and movie content? Here's a few suggestions to get you started:
Hulu.com (free and pay options)
Netflix.com (pay service)
AmazonPrime.com (pay service)
ESPN360.com (only available if your high-speed Internet provider participates)
OVGuide.com (warning: may contain adult content)