If you’ve never set up a home theater centered around a laptop, notebook, chromebook, or other personal computer, you may be surprised to discover just how easy it is. Even if you already have a home theater with a flat screen television, perhaps a DVD or blu ray player, and some speakers, you can add a whole new world of entertainment with your existing mobile computer.
It’s extremely simple to add the entertainment of services like Hulu, YouTube, NetFlix, and so on to your traditional home theatre setup by connecting your PC/Mac laptop. With a Chromebook, it’s even easier. You just need a few inexpensive components to make your home theater internet-enabled (or, in other words, “complete”).
All You Need:
Assuming you already have a television and some kickin’ speakers, you can watch streaming video from the internet on the big screen from the comfort of your couch with just these items:
A Chromebook or PC/Mac Laptop
It’s 2012, so you probably already have a notebook computer of some kind kicking around the house. For the specific purpose of hooking it up to your home theater setup, It’s very important that the laptop is capable of playing HD video without stuttering/skipping. A dual core processor is a must. Test your laptop on sites like YouTube and Vimeo watching HD 720p and/or 1080p video and watch for artifacts or stuttering. We find that the best-performing, best-value laptops for playing HD video are the following:
(Updated December 28. 2012)
HP Pavilion DV6-6116NR 15.6-Inch Entertainment Laptop (Black)
Samsung Series 5 Wi-Fi 12.1-Inch Chromebook
See our in-depth Chromebook reviews here.
Wireless Keyboard & Mouse
A wireless keyboard and mouse set will allow you to use your computer from the couch, so you’ll need one with sufficient range to reach across your living room (very important!). No matter what brand your notebook is, we find that the best-performing, most reliable wireless peripherals tend to come from Logitech or Microsoft. The Logitech MK520 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse is a great package; one of the most well-reviewed wireless “combo” packages available, and we highly recommend it.
The Right Connector Cable(s) for Your Notebook/TV
With all the possible connections out there, choosing the correct cable can seem intimidating. Not to worry — we’ll walk you through it right here!
Depending on how old your notebook and TV are, there are many possible combinations. First, we recommend that you check the ports on your television for the following labels: VGA, HDMI, DVI
Now, check to see what kind of video display ports your laptop has. If you have a Samsung Chromebook, your laptop has a VGA port. If you have an Acer Chromebook, you have an HDMI port.
If you have an HDMI port on your TV as well as on your laptop, or a DVI or VGA port on both your TV and laptop, congratulations — you only need a simple cable to connect your laptop to your home theater. If you have two different types of ports, not to worry! You just need an inexpensive cable that converts the signal from one type to another.
If you’ve ever bought any kind of connector cable at a regular store like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and so on, you know they are ridiculously expensive ($30-40 or more for a *cheap* cable over 10 feet! Yikes!). On the other hand, I’ve had hit-and-miss luck purchasing ultra-cheap cables on the internet. I’ve purchased Amazon’s own AmazonBasics cables and found them to be perfect for my needs, constructed well, attractive (believe it or not) and the best deal price-wise (generally around $7-12 with free shipping).
HDMI to DVI cable:
AmazonBasics HDMI to DVI Adapter Cable (9.8 Feet/3.0 Meters)
These are the most likely combinations you would run into connecting your Laptop or Chromebook computer to your TV/home theater setup. There are converter cables for practically any combination, just do a search here.