Now that I have a DVR, my need for Hulu is pretty much gone. But previously, Hulu was my best bet for watching tv, because I am never home during prime-time hours. The problem with Hulu, however, is that you either have to watch it at your computer, or pay extra for Hulu Plus to play it on a compatible device.
My old tv was twice the size of my computer monitor, and my new tv is three times the size. Plus, my couch is a lot more comfortable than my desk chair. Obviously I want to watch tv on my tv. But I’m
cheap, er, frugal. So the idea of paying $8/month to watch tv shows that I’m already paying to miss on Cable… well it doesn’t sit very well with me.
Instead, there are a few ways to watch Hulu on your tv without paying for it.
If you have a laptop, chances are good that you have an S-Video output on it. The S-Video input seems to be going away on TV’s, but if yours is 5-10 years old, it probably has one. If not, there are S-Video-to-component adapters for sale for a reasonable cost. For audio, not many tv’s have a 3.5″ jack, but an adapter to convert from 3.5″ to RCA stereo (the white and red plugs) is under $5 at Radio Shack.
Just hook up the S-video cable to your laptop and tv, and the audio wire. Some laptops will recognize automatically that the s-video is hooked up, others will require you to toggle the video output. Read your manual for more instructions. But once it’s set up, switch the tv input to the s-video and whatever is on your laptop is now on your tv.
When I was tv shopping this month for a new tv (the old 100lb 32″ tv was slowly dying on us), I discovered that most new flatscreen tv’s have a computer monitor jack, also known as RGB input. My Vizio has that and a 3.5″ audio input right together for easy hookups. You could plug your laptop in that way, or drag your desktop out to the living room. All you need here is an RGB cable which will costs $10-15 or you may already have one if you have an analogue LCD monitor.
This method has the advantage not having to swtich the video output on your computer.
If you don’t have a laptop and dragging your desktop all over your place doesn’t sound appealing, there is another option. There are a few different software companies that will stream video to your tv.
PlayOn is by far the biggest and most popular in this space. It’s not much cheaper than Hulu itself, however. PlayOn only works with Windows and will stream content to a compatible device such as Wii or Xbox 360. It will also work with DLNA devices, such as most smart TV’s.
Boxee is a device that you can connect to your PC. It will stream files from your computer, or tv shows straight from the internet. Hulu has blocked Boxee, but there is a hack available if you are into that sort of thing. If not, then the actual networks do also stream their shows from their websites. The boxes do start at $150, however.
- Laptop or PC, which is the most frugal option? (frugalliving.co.uk)
- Hulu to require Cable TV subscription (jwz.org)