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Answer Line: The best way to watch Netflix

Darryl asked if he could stream video from Netflix (and presumably other services) through his laptop, and then wirelessly to his HDTV.

Darryl asked if he could stream video from Netflix (and presumably other services) through his laptop, and then wirelessly to his HDTV.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

If you're talking about a video sitting on your hard drive, rather than one you're streaming over the Internet, this shouldn't be too difficult. You would need Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) software on your computer (Windows Media Player works), and either an HDTV or a device connected to your HDTV that supports DLNA.

But since you mentioned Netflix, I'm assuming you want to stream to the television. You can buy a gadget that will do this, but I wouldn't recommend it. They tend to be expensive and difficult to set up.

Besides, if the laptop is in the same room as the TV, you don't need the hassles and expenses of a wireless connection. And if it's not in the same room, how is that going to work? When the phone rings while you're watching a movie, are you going to get up, run down the hall to the laptop, press pause, then answer the phone?

So let's step back and consider what you really want to do: Watch content streaming off Netflix on your HDTV.

Since you have a laptop, there's no reason why you can't carry it into the room with the TV. If your laptop has an HDMI port (I'm assuming the TV has one), it's an easy connection. If not, see The HDTV Has HDMI, but the PC Does Not.

Of course the laptop will have to be near the TV, not on your lap, making starting and pausing clumsy (although not as clumsy as if it was in another room). The solution? Buy a wireless mouse and use that to control the laptop from across the room.

Another option: Buy a device that connects your TV to the Internet and streams Netflix (and other services you like). You have plenty of options:

For $50, you can buy a Roku, which is basically a streaming machine. Or, for twice that, you can buy a Blu-ray player with streaming capabilities, that can also play Blu-ray discs and DVDs. Many gaming consoles also stream content.

Quite a few HDTVs these days can stream these services by themselves. But I'm guessing you don't want to spend that much money to solve this problem.

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