My couch is more comfortable than my office chair
November 18, 2010 2:22 PM   Subscribe

I watch some stuff on my television (cable saved to my TiVo, streaming Netflix). I watch other things on my computer (Web-hosted training videos on subscription sites, clips from BBC America and Bravo/other NBC cable stations, YouTube, etc.). Is it possible to watch all my Web video on the TV?

Here's my setup: Sharp Aquos HDTV-ready television; Wii for streaming Netflix; Series 2 TiVo; DirecTV satellite cable. The DirecTV is provided by my landlord, who lives upstairs - we have neither an HDTV dish nor HDTV service package.

I've investigated PlayOn and the Roku, but it seems that both of those provide only a certain number of channels/sites. I'm starting to hear more about Google TV (specifically the Logitech Revue), and it sounds like that's what I might want. Is it, or is this the sort of thing where it's worth waiting a year to see what else is in the development pipeline?
posted by catlet to Technology (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Boxee and Plex both do what you want.
posted by dolface at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2010

Plex and e Boxee service can do it, but you need to build a PC to do it. The Boxee box and the Google TV devices have the ability to do this, and will work for some of your content but the large networks are actively blocking you from getting these streams on the GoogleTV and Boxee boxes.

NBC is happy to let you stream content for free on your PC but it's a bit of a loss leader. If you start streaming that free content to your TV they start losing money. If your shows are on Hulu. That may be an alternative way to get that content on those boxes.

(Boxee is both a downloadable software package and a hardware device)
posted by bitdamaged at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2010

Best answer: Tivo Series 3 and above (not sure about S2) will do YouTube and several VOD services like Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon VOD, etc right out of the box.

With a little file-sharing jiggery-pokery on both the PC and , you can also play some\most video files that are SAVED on your PC through your TiVO S3 or above (not sure about S2).

But if you want to play video files through a web browser on your TV, you have to put a web browser on your TV. No way around that. This basically means hooking a computer up to your TV as a monitor; if your TV and PC both have HDMI connections, you don't need anything more than a cable.

Newer gizmos like the Logitech Revue and other googleTV boxes are providing ways to provide a web browser through a special gadget rather than a full PC, but it's basically the same thing. If you want to build your own gadget, see dolface's links to Boxee and Plex.
posted by bartleby at 2:47 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Unfortunately, several networks are starting to block the Google TV browser.
posted by zsazsa at 3:15 PM on November 18, 2010

I know you mentioned PlayOn, but I wanted to give it a thumbs up. It really is perfect for your situation, and in the year or so that I've had it, they've been pretty consistent about adding new channels.
posted by jbickers at 3:30 PM on November 18, 2010

If you want to be able to access those training videos you mentioned, then you will most likely need to watch them directly on the computer.

You could hook your computer up to the TV. What kind of computer do you have? Is it a laptop? Does your TV have a VGA port? Does your computer have a HDMI port? This would be really the only surefire way to get access to all of the content you want on your TV.

It would be easier to recommend a device if you enumerate your list more completely:
"I watch other things on my computer (Web-hosted training videos on subscription sites, clips from BBC America and Bravo/other NBC cable stations, YouTube, etc.)"
Youtube cannot be used on your Series 2 Tivo, nor Netflix.

Does iTunes have the clips you like to watch? The new Apple TV, which is cheap, can do Youtube and Netflix. I know that iTunes has lots of trailers and short video content. Depending on your definition of "etc", the Apple TV, one of the Rokus, or the Boxee may fit your needs.

Does Youtube work in the Wii browser? Have you tried using it for the other video sources you mentioned?

I would not buy a GoogleTV device without trying it out first. The Logitech is supposed to work well with DirectTV receivers, I think. But, overall, the reviews aren't the most positive. Additionally, all networks, at least US networks, seem to have blocked Google TV. As has Hulu. I'm unsure if Google has worked out any agreements with Networks.

My personal favorite Media Center solution is SageTV. But I don't think that it fits your requirements.
posted by reddot at 3:34 PM on November 18, 2010

Best answer: bitdamaged: (Boxee is both a downloadable software package and a hardware device)

I'll be a nit-picker and say I don't think that's true. Boxee is the software, and there are a few hardware configurations with Boxee pre-installed. The first was the Boxee Box, which is branded with the Boxee logo. There is also the Myka ION and the Nuu Player, neither of which seem to be branded as clearly with the Boxee logo as the Boxee Box.

There are a number of other Home theater PC options, including building your own. For starters, check the HTPC tag for people looking for ideas and help. If you or someone you know are handy with computers, it's fun to put together a HTPC system, and you can customize everything. No pre-built systems matching your entertainment center decor? No problem! From 1980s TV (thread), to modified NES, to a truly retro radio mod.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:09 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. The sticking point, as I thought, is the subscription/passworded site for training videos; bartleby is correct that I need a solution that involves a browser. I have enough components and unplugged machines lying around to build a homebrew HTPC, as filthy light thief suggests, so that's the route I think I'll take as a winter project.

Given the Google blocking, it will be interesting to see how many Revues Logitech ends up selling during the holiday season.
posted by catlet at 6:08 PM on November 18, 2010

You obviously have a computer... Do you have any way to output video from your computer to your television?

I have my iMac hooked up to my HDTV as a second monitor, and often use whatever player I wish (Quicktime, VLC etc) to watch video on my HDTV at very good picture quality.
posted by hippybear at 9:36 PM on November 18, 2010

I was going to suggest what hippybear just did - A friend of mine had a Mac Mini hooked to his big living room HDTV and could browse the web through it.
posted by dnash at 11:40 AM on November 19, 2010

Response by poster: Update: due to time constraints, I went with a Roku, adding a Roksbox channel to manage the videos I've downloaded from my training sites. Works like a charm. Thanks for all the input!
posted by catlet at 8:05 PM on December 14, 2010

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