Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What do I need to get started?

Streaming television shows or other programming (also known as content) to your TV requires two things usually; a high speed internet connection and a device to bring the content to your TV.

Even if you have a standard definition TV, you can take advantage of streaming content from the internet to help save money on your cable bill.

There are a wide variety of devices available to bring content to your TV, each with their own pros and cons. Roku makes set top boxes that deliver content to your TV. These devices support standard and HD televisions. You can add them to your wireless network or plug them in via ethernet. Dozens of 'channels' of audio and video content are available with about half of those channels providing free content. The premium channel subscriptions are somewhat cheaper than cable. These are a easy way to bring content to your TV. However, they will not let you stream content from your home computers.

Many video game consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii will stream content to your TV. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will allow you to stream content from your PC to the TV but not just any content. Any content that is free of digital rights management (DRM) and compatible with the system can be streamed. If you have a TV show you have purchased from Apple via iTunes you will not be able to stream that to any device that is not manufactured by Apple. If you have any of the devices you're halfway there to saving money on your cable bill. Congratulations!

If you're looking to purchase a device, you may want to consider a Roku set top box since it is very inexpensive and highly reviewed. Game consoles have the added benefit of playing DVDs, in the case of the PlayStation 3 Blu Ray discs and of course compelling video games. At a starting point of $200, this could be a pricey way to get started.

Other ways to get content streamed to your TV include Apple TV and internet enabled Blu Ray players. Apple TVs currently run $99 and stream content from iTunes and Netflix. Some internet enabled blu ray players also will stream content from Netflix and other sources. They can be found for as low as $150.

If you're in the market for a new TV, there are some HDTVs that will allow you to stream content directly to the TV itself. Sony's line of internet TVs powered by Google TV will allow you to take advantage of all the content available on the web plus support streaming content from Netflix and other providers. The first wave of these televisions are pricey but with the money you'll save on your cable bill, it is well worth the investment.

In my next post I will let you know what kind of content is available for you to stream to your TV.


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