Netflix debuted "House of Cards" last week, its first original, made-for-Netflix series. With its beautiful photography and sterling production values, the drama is made for a big screen, not a 19-inch computer monitor or tiny 3 ½-inch iPhone screen.
Many people think that the Netflix Watch Instantly streaming video service, which delivers shows and movies via an Internet connection for $8 a month, can be viewed only on a PC or mobile device such as a tablet. Don’t watch "House of Cards" that way.
The political thriller starring Kevin Spacey as a ruthless congressman is a stylish drama by famed director David Fincher ("The Social Network") should be seen on a high-definition television. What many new to Netflix may not know is that users can stream productions this way, and if they have a fast enough Internet connection, they can do it in full 5.1 surround sound.
Here’s a breakdown of how to accomplish that and what equipment is necessary.
Gaming consoles • Such boxes as PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 have built-in Internet connections, so all are capable of running applications that can be downloaded from the gaming companies’ respective online-stores. Just plug the console of your choice into your television, log in to the online store (Sony’s PlayStation Network or Xbox Live, for example) and download the Netflix app. Launch the app and sign in with your Netflix login and password.
These Internet-connected set top boxes allow users to download applications such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon’s video service. These boxes have built in wireless adapters, so all you need is a fast broadband connection and a wireless router.
The top choice in this category has to be the Roku box. There are three models, but even the cheapest one (for $50) can stream videos from hundreds of different applications or channels.
Blu-ray players • Newer models from Samsung, Panasonic and Sony include built-in wireless adapters for apps and usually are a little pricier than basic players, but it means you won’t have to buy a set top box.
Televisions • A newer trend in high-definition models is to include a feature that streams Internet-based video right into the set, avoiding the need for a set top box, console or Blu-ray. All you need is the connection and a router.
Even lower-priced televisions are beginning to include this feature.
Laptop • If you already own one, this might be the least-expensive alternative of all because all you need is a special cable.
Newer models should have an HDMI output, which is the high-definition digital connection that is used on televisions. Buy a HDMI cable (about $5 to $10 online, depending on the length) and connect the laptop to an HDTV.
With older-model TVs and laptops, you can check the outputs and generally find a cable to match them up.
Once you hook up the laptop, you just need to make sure it’s connected to the Internet either through an ethernet cable or a wireless router, and then run Netflix on your computer. Whatever plays on your laptop will also play on your TV screen.
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