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How Do I Watch TV Anywhere?

A man watching TV on a tablet PC.
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  • Written By: Mitch Morgan
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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The ability to watch TV anywhere was once only a dream of inventors and innovators. With the unveiling of remote television streaming devices, however, this dream has become a reality. With just an internet connection, a viewing screen such as a laptop or PC monitor, and one of these plug-in devices, one may access his or her home's cable, satellite, or other programming from virtually anywhere in the world. With the correct software and hardware, these devices may even allow the user to view television programs from a projector screen, mobile phone, or other portable technologies. Since the popularity of these "watch TV anywhere" devices has spread, availability has grown, and prices have dropped simultaneously.

There are several TV steaming devices available now, and some consumers may find that one device provides better picture quality than another. Following the installation of one of these units to a television source, using an S-video or other connector cable, consumers may use their home TV set as the central "hub" of activity from which to view programming; he or she may change channels on the home TV set from a remote location, via an infrared cable and a virtual, on-screen remote control that is used to access any channel, station, or program found on that TV. From this remote control, almost any device connected to the "hub" TV may be controlled from a remote location, allowing for the use of recording and playback devices such as a DVR.

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Since the introduction of television streaming devices, applications and software have become available for certain popular mobile phones, which lets users stream TV content via a wi-fi connection and view it directly from the mobile device. For a set fee, users may download the software or application and watch TV anywhere using a mobile phone. The availability of these applications is limited to certain mobile phone models and may vary by region and cellular service providers. Furthermore, some cellphone providers offer the option of viewing television over the phone without using any additional devices, though there is usually an additional fee for the service.

Another option for those who want to watch TV anywhere through certain websites that have obtained the necessary licenses to offer television programming. The websites of major networks often offer this option as well. The image is usually not as high in quality as when viewed on TV, but it does allow viewers to catch up on shows that they may have missed.

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Discuss this Article

myharley
Post 15

Once in awhile I will watch TV on my PC, but it is not my first choice. We have a big flat screen TV that is awesome for watching TV on.

If I have a choice between watching my shows on a huge screen or a little computer screen, I will choose the big screen every time.

It is nice to know you have the option to watch your TV anywhere, but I still like to sit in my comfortable recliner and watch TV on a big screen.

With many people's lives becoming so mobile, I can see how this trend will probably continue. My grand kids will have no concept of what it was like when we only had 3 TV channels and one chance to watch a show.

SarahSon
Post 14

I have my favorite TV shows that I look forward to each week. After a long, busy day this gives me a chance to sit down and relax.

If I am busy and don't have a chance to watch a show when it is regularly scheduled, it is so nice knowing I have other options.

Once I learned how to watch TV on my computer, I no longer have to worry about not seeing missed episodes.

There were many times when I would forget to set the DVR, but with the availability of TV shows on the internet, I know I can watch them at any time.

If the TV show I am watching is in the middle of the season, I know that I don't have to miss any new shows. As long as I watch the missed episode before the next week, I haven't missed out on a thing.

bagley79
Post 13

@shell4life - Even though we might not be the norm, I feel like you do when it comes to escaping the constant sound of the TV.

This really sounds crazy to a lot of people, but we even canceled our satellite service because we found that it was a big waste of money for us.

We don't have much time to sit around and watch TV, and thought that money would be better spent somewhere else. I don't have any desire to know how to watch TV anywhere. I am much more content to read a book than I am to watch TV.

When I sit down at my computer, it is usually to work or look up some kind of information. The last thing I think about doing is knowing how to watch TV on my PC.

I realize this is not for everybody, but I found that my life was much more productive when I didn't come home and watch TV all the time.

miriam98
Post 12

@nony - Thanks for the advice. I had seen those sites too but weren’t sure if they were legitimate. One thing that concerns me however is the regulations that may soon start affecting the Internet.

Some Internet providers are providing usage limitations on their bandwidth, particularly the DSL services. I don’t know if that has affected cable yet – but it might.

They know people are watching online more and may stop paying for satellite and cable. I hope we don’t get hit with a tiered approach to Internet usage. Then services like Netflix and others like it will become practically useless in my opinion.

There is definitely a tug of war going on between traditional broadcasters and the Internet. I hope the Internet stays open and unregulated.

nony
Post 11

@everetra - That’s an excellent point. You have basically two options: you can get these special devices the article talks about or you can watch TV on line, either for free or using streaming services with a monthly fee.

Since you are talking about avoiding illegal sites I would like to offer another caveat. Avoid sites that offer “services” where you can watch thousands of channels of TV programming without a satellite or cable connection for one simple fee.

These sites claim to offer you the same programming that you can get with satellite or cable, using their service alone. However, remember that legitimate devices plug into your existing satellite or cable connection.

Do you know what these scam sites are really doing? They just point you to existing websites where you can watch TV for free! In other words, they are redirecting you to stuff that already exists online, and then charging you a fee for it. Save your money.

everetra
Post 10

Personally I wouldn’t bother with a standalone device if I wanted to watch TV anywhere in the world. I can watch TV shows (mostly recorded) online for free.

I try to stick with the legitimate sites of course. These are sites where broadcast channels have licensed the hosting of previous episodes of their shows. They build a revenue stream because they include advertising in the TV shows just like they do with the live programming.

There are other sites that are illegal, and host programming that has been downloaded from a pirate site, or which points to sites in China where the United States can’t do much about it.

Stay away from those sites. Beyond the fact that it’s wrong, your IP address can be tracked. So if the Feds decide to crack down they can locate your PC. It’s not worth it.

shell4life
Post 9

I often find myself trying to escape the constant noise of the TV, but my husband is just the opposite. He has it going all the time, and he even leaves it turned on when he leaves the house.

He watches TV from his cellphone whenever we go anywhere. It annoys me, because for once, I’d like him to enjoy nature and being outdoors.

I personally don’t think it is healthy for people to be able to watch TV anywhere, because how will we ever escape it? When you watch TV, you are getting absorbed in someone else’s life, rather than living your own.

Emilski
Post 8

I don't know much about them, but apparently there are devices out now that allow you to connect your TV to four or five of the different streaming video services. I know they usually connect to Hulu and Netflix as well as some of the other websites and maybe even services from your cable company. I always have the TV going in the background, so this is perfect for me.

With all of the different services that the box can play, you basically have everything that a cable subscription can offer for less price. You get current TV shows through things like Hulu, and you can watch movies and several other series with Netflix. The best part for me is that they play through the TV. I usually like watching TV while I am surfing the internet, so playing shows on my computer isn't really a feasible option.

kentuckycat
Post 7

I love having the ability to watch my home TV anywhere. I do a lot of travelling for my job, so I find that I have a lot of down time where I am either staying in hotel rooms or waiting around for clients. I have one of the apps the article talked about that is provided by my satellite company. It lets me connect to my home DVR and watch shows on my phone or laptop. It really is the best of both worlds. I still get to watch the shows as soon as they air, and I can do it wherever I am at.

Like someone else mentioned, this is really going to decide who succeeds and fails in this business. The time is soon approaching where you will be able to get a Wi-Fi connection no matter where you are in the country, and people are going to be looking for these services.

jmc88
Post 6

@matthewc23 - You're right. The companies that realize people don't want to or can't always be at home when their favorite shows are on going to be the ones that succeed. I'm personally not much of a TV watcher, so I actually cancelled my cable subscription whenever Hulu and some of the other websites started to get popular. I realized that the few shows I actually liked to watch were on there, and I could watch them whenever I wanted.

I know that the cable company in my area, though, has realized that a lot of people are cancelling their subscriptions for that reason. They have actually added an online service as part of customers' cable subscription that is basically like Hulu. It lets you watch a lot of network shows the same day they air as well as some channels and special features you can't get on other websites.

matthewc23
Post 5

@EdRick - You also have to look at it from the standpoint of the networks and cable companies, though. Cable companies know that if everyone is watching TV on the internet, then eventually they are going to start realizing that they don't need cable service. Once they start losing customers, they have to start passing part of the cost onto the networks who agree to have their channels broadcast by the cable services.

At least what I think is happening with the channels that either don't have shows online or have them on a delay is that it is part of an agreement with the cable companies so that people don't cancel their service. If someone really, really wants to watch their favorite shows the same day they air, they'll go ahead and keep pay for the cable service.

Like the article says, though, we're quickly moving toward a point of being able to watch all TV on computers, so it will be interesting to see how everyone adapts.

strawCake
Post 4

These days, it seems like there is a lot of crossover between TV and the computer. For example, as the article said, you can use your computer to access your home television. But for most newer TV's, you can also plus your computer in to your TV and watch streaming content that way.

This is how I usually watch TV shows these days. I plug my computer into my TV and then play streaming media from the Internet on my television. It was really easy to set up, and when I do this I almost feel like I'm watching TV shows in real time!

sunnySkys
Post 3

@Azuza - I like to watch TV on the computer too. I also use my tablet to stream TV shows when I'm not at home, but somewhere else with a wi-fi connection. Using these services, you really can watch current TV shows anywhere!

I have tried to stream TV on my cell phone, but I just didn't enjoy watching it on a device that small. I'm not that picky about the picture quality (I think the quality is fine watching online) but the small view screen really cripples your viewing experience, in my opinion. You can hardly see what's going on!

Azuza
Post 2

I've never thought to invest in a device that allows me to watch TV anywhere I want to during real time, but I do watch TV on the Internet quite a lot. I work in the evenings, so I'm not always home when the shows I want to watch come on.

In the past, I would have had to try and tape the show, or just missed it entirely. However, websites online allow me to watch my shows online when I'm free.

Usually I'll wait a few weeks, and then watch a few episodes at once. This makes cliffhangers much easier to deal with!

EdRick
Post 1

It's unfortunate that it seems to be getting harder to watch TV online. Some shows that used to be available the very next day are now only available on an 8-day delay, while others that used to be available on 8-day delay are now available only to subscribers of paid services like Hulu Plus. (You also have to pay for Hulu Plus if you want to watch shows on mobile devices.)

I'm totally willing to watch commercials in order to watch the show - but I'm not always given that option. If the show I want to watch is not available legitimately one way or another... well, are the networking *trying* to drive people into the arms of pirates?

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