Full Internet on a TV?

Full Internet on a TV?

Campbell Faulkner
Oct 22, 2010

Q: I just bought a Vizio VIA internet tv- while I love the tv itself, I certainly would not call their apps true internet access. What is the best way to get full internet browsing on my new tv? I would like to be able to get to Hulu, Google, Youtube, etc instead of being limited by their very small selection.

Sent by Abbey

Contributor - The promise of an internet connected television is one that has spanned from the days of MSN TV right on up through Boxee. You mentioned that you want a way to use your new television to enjoy the best of the web. Unfortunately, that will require an extra box to help you get the best out of your tv. Our first suggestion is to pick up a nettop. Nettops are similar to netbooks and will provide access to your desired streaming services and still be fast enough to run basic games and other application. Do not buy a nettop with integrated graphics as they will likely be unable to handle flash and other video at anything other than middling resolution and quality. We like the Asus Eee Box nettop since it has Nvidia Ion graphics processing power. The Eee Box can be had for around $400.00 dollars from Amazon, but if you search around you might find it cheaper.

If you are a Mac fan, the Mac mini has been an excellent alternative to a nettop for years. Additionally, the Mac mini includes Front Row software which simplifies playing and browsing media on the computer. We have long been fans of Macs, but not the mini's high price for a media center computer. If you decide to go with the Mac, the best features will be the long life and ability for the computer to not become obsolete in a few years like nettop powered devices tend to do. Both of the computers will do very well with what the average user can dish out, but if you are a power user you might want to go the custom route.

Designing a custom is unnecessary for most users, but if you are a power user you might want to take a look at the Ars Technica system guides. These provide useful information about parts and components to build your own media center computer. While the parts lists have not been updated in a year, they still provide access to the basics you will need to build your own computer.

We are unable to recommend excellent devices like the Roku family of streamers or the Apple TV due to your wishes for google and uninhibited access to Hulu. We wish we could recommend one of the new simple boxes for their ease and inexpensive nature, but due to Hulu and other networks sites restrictions to streaming to anything but a browser, the full fledged computer option is the only way.

Any other recommendations out there for Abbey about streaming video and google searching from her couch?

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(Top image Flickr user gbaku, Apple mini on TV hpeguk, licensed under Creative Commons)

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