To get the full range of video entertainment on the web you will need a PC or a MAC. This way you will be able to access free web content from every network and TV producer, Amazon Video on Demand, Netflix, iTunes (Apple TV content), internet radio, and every new thing that comes down the pike in this fast evolving industry. The process of connecting a computer to a flat panel TV often involves nothing more than connecting them with an inexpensive cable.

Using a PC or MAC also is the best way to go from a long term price/performance perspective. You may tempted by lower initial prices for set top boxes or Apple TV, though neither will likely be satisfying over the long run.

Set top boxes and “widgets” can provide access to limited number of feeds. For example the Roku box can stream Netflix to a flat panel TV, but can not access hundreds of other feeds, and you still need a computer to que up the movies. To summarize you pay less and get a lot less with these devices. Don’t bother.

Apple TV is a unique animal in that has some computer-like features. However its sole purpose is to serve up shows from iTunes. It is an expensive device at $229+ and you will pay $2.99 and up per show on iTunes. Not a great deal.

The good news is Dell no sells a desktop without monitor, with wireless and Windows Home premium that will do a excellent job of managing video from the web for about $425. There is no more cost effective or flexible way enjoy video entertainment from the web than through your computer, and from there to a flat panel or iPhone, iTouch (the “Best Screen Available”).

Because most of the computers sold since 2006 can easily handle web video, and many of them have ports compatible with flat panel TV, you may be able to extend the viewing to the big screen with the simple addition of the right connector cable. The following is an overview of what ports can be used to connect the computer to the big screen TV.

CABLES and CONNECTORS:

STEP 1 - Note what type of connections the TV and computer have. A good primer on connections is Connectors 101

STEP 2 - Connect computer to TV via the correct cable type:

    BEST QUALITY VIDEO

  • HDMI -digital - can connect to HDMI or DVI or USB (via convertor such as from Atlona)
  • DVI - digital - can connect to DVI or HDMI
  • Component -analogue - connect to component
    BETTER QUALITY VIDEO

  • S-Video - analogue - connect to S-Video
    GOOD to PASSABLE QUALITY VIDEO

  • Composite - analogue - connect to composite

Firefold.com has excellent cables at low prices which can be ordered with different type heads at each end of the cable

STEP 3 Optional - Buy and connect a wireless mouse/trackpad and keyboard. A favorite is the Logitech DiNovo Mini, a full bluetooth keyboard/trackpad combo about the size of a smartphone.