Help me get Internet videos on my TV

My wife is suddenly keen to be able to watch internet videos – YouTube, Hulu, whatever – on the TV, and I feel like it’s my loyal duty to help her do that. (By asking someone else how to do it, naturally.)

Here’s the setup: in the kitchen, the PC – standard Dell box, running Windows XP, maybe five years old; 50 feet away in the living room, the TV – 1992 vintage CRT (don’t laugh, it’s in color). Now, the TV does have a port in the back where you can plug in co-ax from cable or the DVD player.

I’m looking for the easiest, most straightforward way to get a video from the internet to play on the TV. I’m not averse to running a cable, because it’s easy to do via the basement (we’re on the first floor here). And just so you know, I’m basically this guy. I hate futzing with my computer, so I’ll be extremely partial to the solution that requires the smallest amount of new hardware and/or software.

So what does the collective mind recommend?

Hmmm, look at the back panel on your PC. Does it have an S-video output?

If yes, all you have to do is run a wire to the TV. It might also have a composite output (yellow RCA). In your video settings you can then either clone the desktop on your TV, or extend the desktop using your TV. If your TV doesn’t have an svideo/composite input you’ll need something like this:

If you don’t know how to do this, just let us know the model of your PC, or the model of your GPU. You can find the GPU model by going into the control panel -> Device manager, and expanding the “video output devices” tree list.

If there’s no S-Video output, what outputs are there? You mentioned a coaxial input (which means your PC probably has a TV tuner). Does it have a VGA output to your monitor? DVI? use the image above for reference. Are there more than one?

So basically we need to determine the types of video outputs your machine supports, the types your TV supports, and then we can figure out how to connect them (using a cheap intermediary if need be).

Assuming you already have a Wireless Router then
A Roku box:

Plus Play on installed on your computer:

If your TV doesn’t have RCA inputs (yellow/white/red) then you need an RF modulator

Roku’s a great suggestion. Just a quick note - PlayOn will require a subscription, but is worth it just for the Hulu access.

New TV and computer. Seriously.

Plus a wireless router–which the OP did not mention.

Roku will get you YouTube,, Netflix, Hulu Plus (but not regular Hulu), and a bunch of other stuff. Pluse they just added access to free Amazon VOD shows and movies for Amazon Prime members.

I can’t find any such thing within Device Manager, unfortunately. And I don’t see an S-type output on the back of the machine – or anything useful, really. There are some USB ports, a parallel-port type thing for the monitor, and an array of ports for jacks to go into (six of them, in pastel colors, marked with an iconography I can’t decipher).

I did buy an RF modulator, so it looks that takes care of the TV end of things, if only I can find a way to get the signal out of the PC. Is there such a thing as a USB-to-S-type adaptor?

And no, no wireless router.

What others have said about Roku is probably the best if you don’t want to replace any of your equipment. With that you can either run a network cable from your computer to the Roku at the TV, or you can get a router and connect the Roku that way.

I don’t think you’re going to get anywhere with your old computer. You need to somehow get video and audio signals from the computer to the TV and with the connections you describe it’s either not possible or it’s going to be a pain to run the cables (do they even make a 50+ foot monitor cable?) and you’ll have to to switch between your computer monitor/TV and computer speakers/sound feed to TV.

Go with the Roku or you can probably get a decent sized LCD TV and a laptop for less than $1000.

How do you get YouTube on Roku? Or are you talking about a 3rd party pay app add on?

It’s a private channel, there are a lot of them:

Regular Hulu gets onto the Roku via playon, btw, if you choose to use that - instead of paying for Hulu Plus you pay for Playon and you get more than Hulu Plus- despite the name Hulu Plus off the computer is worse than regular Hulu on the computer because many shows aren’t authorized for streaming to devices. Playon gets around that by playing the shows on your computer and then sends them on to your device.

Awesome, thanks!

Well, I think I’m abandoning the idea of sending the signal from the PC to the TV with a long cable and a series of adaptors. Seems like too much of a kludge. Newest idea, as some have recommended above, is to get a wireless router, and maybe a new, cheap laptop to be the boon companion of the TV. Definitely a more expensive solution, but probably vastly more satisfactory.

Why not the much easier wireless router/Roku solution?

Or wireless router/AppleTV, or Wireless router/HDTV Live or Wireless router/Boxee box? Any of those will work, although you need to have an HDMI cable for the AppleTV. The HDTV Live will put out the Yellow, Red, and White cables. I’m not sure about the Boxee Box. Either way, you need to be able to get network connectivity to all of these somehow.

19 year old television
5 year old computer
No wireless connectivity
Want the internet on my TV.
Easy and cheap.


ETA: The easiest solution would be to go buy one of the internet ready DVD players. Run and ethernet cable to it and hook it up to your TV. Voila. You’ll have access to all kinds of internet thingies.

Here’s one for $109.98:

Up until last weekend, I had a setup like the OP’s. Old TV, old computer. Served as my television-without-cable for like 10 years.

Here’s all you need:
PCI Video card with S-Video out (ATI Chipset) - $35
S-Video Cable - $5-10
ATI Remote Wonder - $8-20
RCA Audio Y Cable - $5

Put in the video card and make sure it works with the monitor. Set your video settings at the lowest they’ll go (like 640x480…at least that’s all my TV could handle). Also install the Remote Wonder and make sure that works.

Turn off the computer and TV. Hook the video card up to the TV using the S-Video cable. Hook up the computer’s sound to the TV using this guide and the RCA cable (black single cable in the PC, red to TV red, yellow to TV yellow).

Turn on the TV and then the computer. The bios and stuff might look weird with no vertical hold, until Windows starts up. Then you will see a low-res computer right on your old TV screen.


Sony has this cool netbox thing, I got one for my dad for Christmas. He uses it to watch Netflix and HuluPlus. Network Media Player. Since you have an older TV, I checked, you don’t need HDMI, can use component video or composite video and an optical audio or analog audio connection.

Huh… just when I had given up on the idea. So let me understand – the TV is basically your monitor in this setup, and in fact your only monitor? So suppose you need to click something on the screen with your mouse, how do you do that if your TV is in one room and your PC in another?