How to watch Netflix and other Internet movies on your TV without buying the device box.

 

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We have several ways to access movies and TV shows on the Internet.  We can use Xfinity, Amazon, or Netflix.  We get Amazon through Amazon Prime; we think that is a good deal.  We used to have the disk delivery option of Netflix, but we gave that up.  It didn’t seem to be worth the extra money.  Now we stream all of the movies we find online.  It is annoying that Netflix reserves so many of its movies to delivery only but we generally find what we want between the three options.

I also love the idea of having selections of movies that can be accessed online.  What I was not interested in doing was paying a hundred bucks to be able to see them on my television.  I can watch them on my computer screen but it would be much more relaxing to watch on the bigger screen in front of my easy chair.  Fortunately if you have a laptop and a wireless router or a desktop computer located near your TV there is another way of doing it.

You can use the TV as a large monitor to your computer.  By the way, this is also an alternative to running out and buying the new big computer monitors.  Most digital TVs and most computers have an HDMI connection. Older TVs could have a VGA connection.  TVs with one of these connections will have a setting to set your TV to that connection in the same way you set it for your DVD player.  The connector will be marked and it will look like a trapezoid, the HDMI connector is flatter than the VGA connector.

The VGA and HDMI cables are available at electronics stores such as Radio Shack; they only cost a few bucks.  Actually, the HDMI connector is more expensive.  It can cost fifty bucks or so at Radio Shack, but we think it was worth it. I bought my HDMI cable a while ago. I was just told that you can now get them for as low as ten bucks.

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This is a picture of the left side of my laptop.  The connector on the left is a VGA connector and the connector on the right is the HDMI connector.

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This is the back of my TV.  You can see that my cable is connected to HDMI1 connector.  When I set the TV, I set it to HDMI1.

The following are the steps to use your TV as a computer monitor.

  1. Find  the VGA or HDMI connection on your TV. On some sets the connector is in the back and it is positioned for the cable to be connected vertically; this makes it hard to see unless you turn the TV on its side.  If your set doesn’t have a connector then this method won’t work.
  2. Find the VGA or HDMI connection on your computer.  It is usually on the side of a laptop and in the back of a desktop.  You  may have a problem if you have a new computer and an old TV or vice versa.  You could end up with a VGA in one place and an HDMI in another.  Some laptops, like mine, have both connectors.  It may be possible to use an adaptor on your cable, in that case, but I’m not sure how well that would work.
  3. Make sure that your laptop can get a good signal from the wireless router.  The best thing to do is position the laptop where is needs to be and attempt to access the Internet from there.  If it works normally; you’re good to go.
  4. With the TV and computer on, connect the computer and the TV with the cable.  I actually keep the cable plugged into the TV and connect it to the computer when I want to use it.
  5. Use the TV remote to set the TV to communicate with the computer the same way you set it for a DVD player.  You should set it to whatever the connector in the back or your TV was labeled, for example, HDMI1 or VGA.

For the VGA connector, the sound will come from the computer so it would be best to use a set of external speakers.  If you don’t have external speakers you can get them for as little as twenty bucks at Best Buy; you may be able to get the cable there also.

The HDMI connector has the ability to bring the audio over with the video.  To get the audio through the TV speakers you have to tell your computer that you want to use the TV as your primary display.  To do that, use the following steps:

  1. At this point you should see the computer image on your TV screen.
  2. Left click on the Windows icon in the lower left corner of your screen.
  3. Click Control Panel.
  4. Click Sound.
  5. Click on the TV icon and click Set Default.
  6. Click OK and that should do it.  Use your TV as a computer monitor and start your movie.

It should be noted that these instructions are for computers running Windows 7 or better.  Using the TV for a monitor is also good for showing family movies and slide shows and playing computer games.  I know there are far more high tech ways of doing this, but this is a way of doing cheaply with the computer and TV you already have.

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About

Pete is a retired software developer, a writer, and a martial arts instructor. He lives in Maryland with his wife Cathy and they are enjoying their retirement. Pete is the author of four novels, "The Teacher", 500 Years from Home", and "The Long Journey Home" are available at Lulu.com; and "Pioneers" in available at the Kindle Book Store.

Posted in Computers, How to

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