How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV

This tutorial explains how to watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV by connecting your computer to your TV.

I subscribe to Netflix and mostly watch DVDs on the plasma HDTV. Watching Netflix on a tablet or PC is nice, but there are times when I’d like to take advantage of Netflix’s “watch instantly” streaming internet video service to view a movie with the family from the comfort of the couch on the 40-inch plasma HDTV and needed a way to hookup the computer to the TV without buying a lot of new equipment. My laptop computer has an HDMI port and all I needed is an HDMI cable.

How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV

Netflix from PC to TV

Netflix from PC to TV

There are many Netflix Ready Devices on the market that make it easy to connect to the Internet and watch Netflix movies on your TV, the Roku Streaming Media Player being one of the most popular. I do have an Xbox 360 that is Netflix ready but it’s connected to another TV downstairs in the game room.

Since I already have an HP Pavillion laptop computer with an HDMI port, all I need to watch Internet video on my HDTV is an HDMI cable.

Netflix: Connect a PC to a HDTV

Here’s the computer to HDTV connection diagram to watch Netflix, YouTube, Hulu or any streaming Internet video on the TV. If you’re like me, you already have a:

  1. Netflix subscription
  2. broadband connection
  3. WiFi router
  4. computer with a HDMI port
  5. HDTV

The the only thing I needed buy was a 6-foot HDMI cable.

Netflix Instantly Computer to TV Connection Diagram

Netflix Instantly Computer to TV Connection Diagram

Choosing an HDMI Cable

I bought the cheapest HDMI cable I could find locally, a Dynex 6.5 foot HDMI cable with gold plated connectors from Best Buy for $39.99 over the objections of the sales staff who insisted that only the much more expensive Monster or Rocketfish cables would do. (At $39.99 the cables were way overpriced and 5 times too much!) The Monster and Rocketfish cables are prominently displayed and I had to ask where the Dynex cables could be found – way off to the side at end of an isle.

HDMI signals are digital – zeros and ones, similar in concept to the Ethernet technology, carry very little power and are less subject to interference. The Best Buy salesman was thinking (or hoping I would) about analog audio signals and speaker hookups that need hundreds of watts and big, expensive cables for the best sound. This is not the case with digital.

Try the cheapest HDMI cable first. If it doesn’t work, return it. In the digital world there’s usually no difference in picture/sound quality between the low cost generic and the expensive cable brand.

HDMI Cable Laptop Connection

The computer HDMI port and cable are shown here:

Laptop Computer HDMI port and Cable

Laptop Computer HDMI port and Cable

Insert the HDMI cable fully into the computer’s HDMI port.

HDMI Cable Plugged into the Laptop Computer

HDMI Cable Plugged into the Laptop Computer

HDMI Cable to TV Connection

This is the audio/video connections summary from the User’s Guide for my Philips plasma HDTV. It has two HDMI ports labeled HDMI 1 and HDMI 2. Either HDMI port can be used, I choose HDMI 1 for the cable hookup.

HDTV Audio Video Connectors

HDTV Audio Video Connectors

The HDMI cable from the computer is plugged into HDMI port #1 on the back of the TV. (The other cables at the upper right are my existing DirecTV connections for S-Video and analog sound.)

HDMI Cable Connection to the HDTV

HDMI Cable Connection to the HDTV

The Windows Vista and Windows 7 configuration steps are explained in How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV – Part 2.

Enjoy,

Bob Jackson

Copyright © 2014 HandymanHowTo.com   Reproduction strictly prohibited.

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57 Responses to How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV

  1. Hdtv Converter May 9, 2009 at 4:46 am #

    Hi, I fell blessed that I found your post while searching for hdtv converter. I agree with you on the subject Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV – Part 1 | HandymanHowto.com. I was just thinking about this matter last Saturday.

  2. moab July 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    I use a powerful free Tivo type software called MediaPortal.
    http://www.team-mediaportal.org
    It is truly free i.e. not a demo, shareware or trial.
    At this point I would only recommend it for people who are computer enthusiasts. Although it is getting easier to use.
    It is very powerfull, feature rich and fully configurable.
    I only use it as a DVD dukebox (kids movies mostly) and a supersized TiVo (3TB or storage).

  3. Sundeep October 1, 2009 at 5:54 am #

    Hi – Thanks, this is great. I ran into one issue – sound was not through the TV speakers. How ever when I play other videos on my PC through HDMI the sound works well.

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Sundeep

    • Bob Jackson October 1, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

      No sound is a problem for many readers; it either works right away – or at least after rebooting – or not.

      Best bet is to check with your PC manufacturer to see that your audio drivers are up to date and search the manufacturers support forums for ‘HDMI’ and ‘audio’ for any known issues.

      Please reply here if you find a solution with the particulars of your computer.

      Thanks

  4. Michael January 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Great articule. I don’t have an HDMI port, but on my docking station, I do have a DVI port. Can I use an DVI to HDMI cable, and will that transmit the sound also? Thanks.

  5. hultsman March 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Well how about a solution for those of us with new PCs but no HDMI port? Grrr. Perhaps a tutorial on how to use the ATT Uverse set top box and bring in Netflix that way??

    • Bob Jackson March 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

      > Well how about a solution for those of us with new PCs but no HDMI port?
      Buy a Boxee Box – coming this summer (2010) by D-Link. It streams NetFlix and more! I was tempted by the Roku NetFlix player and I think Boxee will be a real winner with its huge variety of the supported media formats.

      I may drop DIRECTV when I get my hands on a Boxee. My teenagers watch online content almost exclusively and my satellite TV viewing is down to maybe 3 hours per week for content I’ve saved on TiVo. 200+ channels of uninteresting blather for $95/month. Now if I could subscribe al a carte to the few channels that I like and skip the other junk for $30/month, that’d be a good value.

      > Perhaps a tutorial on how to use the ATT Uverse set top box and bring in Netflix that way??
      That’d be cool, but AT&T Uverse and Verizon Fios aren’t offered in my area.

  6. Sarabou August 10, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    Bob, I hope you win the lottery. You just helped an utterly confused tired working mom understand, in a very simple way, how to get Netflix watch instantly on my home TV. It’s guys like you that make the world better for the rest of us.

    You should really consider a career in instructional design. I could use your expertise on the all the lame instructions on kids toys.

    Again, I hope this nice gesture comes back to you, tenfold.

    All my best,
    Sara

    • Bob Jackson August 11, 2010 at 4:05 am #

      I appreciate the compliments!
      Thanks,
      Bob

  7. Roger December 16, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Hi I just got my LG LD550 HDTV it works great but when I turn on netflix I see the movie but I hear the sound from a regular tv show in the background not the netflix movie sound.Im also hooked up to a hdmi cable.

    • Bob Jackson December 16, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

      Is the Digital Output Device set as Default in Control Panel –> Hardware and Sound? What happened you clicked Test on the Advanced Properties tab as described in Part 2?

      Is the sound coming from the TV speakers or your home theater system? Make sure the volume is turned up on the TV speakers and turn off your home theater system.

      If that doesn’t work, look through the TV owner’s manual to see if the sound input source is selected independently of the picture input.

      Lastly, make sure your PC audio drivers are up to date.

  8. Gene December 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    Hi Bob – old guy here struggling with the computer. I have Windows 7 PC and hooked up HDMI to HDMI computer to tv. Instead of the netflix movie the wallpaper from my computer shows up on the tv (no icons or anything else). Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!
    Gene

    • Bob Jackson December 29, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

      Old guy? I’ve lots of gray hair, too!

      Since you can see the Win7 wallpaper on the TV you’re almost there! Several suggestions:
      * Try rebooting. I had to do this to get it working correctly on my Vista laptop.
      * Change the computer screen to a lower resolution(s).
      * Cycle through the Fn + F4 screen output selection keys (may be different Fn key on your PC): Computer only, computer + TV (HDMI), TV (HDMI) only.

      There are several more troubleshooting ideas in the comments here and at the bottom of Part 2.

      Please post back with what you find.

  9. vic January 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    I have a visio wide screen with HD and hdmi capabilities.

    Can I somewhow receive netflix movies directly to my tv, without going through my computer first? Is there some device that I can connect to my receiver on my tv and call up instance netflix?

    thanks, Vic

    • Bob Jackson January 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      Roku is a very popular, inexpensive and small internet appliance that supports WiFi for streaming NetFlix movies to your TV.

      Here’s the full list of NetFlix Ready Devices.

  10. Mike King January 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Hi Bob– Looks like you are the man when it comes to Netflix streaming issues! Here is one for you. I just bought a Sony BluRay (BDP-S570) with Netflix. It’s connected to my mitsubishi 65″ DLP thru a standard HDMI connection (sound just comes out of TV speakers). For whatever reason, only certain Netflix instant access shows/movies have audio, but for most there is nothing. No sound at all, but the picture is fine. Have you ever heard of this happening? I’ve tried cutting the power off and on to the BluRay and also using a “faster” HDMI cable. But nothing has worked. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  11. Bill January 15, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    My TV says to use the included VGA cable from the PC to the TV, as well as a cable for the audio. My PC doesnt have a HDMI jack either, so the VGA should work for you assuming you have VGA jacks.

    • Bob Jackson January 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      HDMI is the best option if your TV supports it. VGA or DVI can also work.

  12. Judy January 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    What if I have XP and not Vista. Will these directions work for me?

  13. Rhonda April 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Hi we are trying to hook up netflix onour tv which is wifi and we need a code and of course i don’t remember it any way to change it or go around it of find it would be great. We called our internet and they think we have lost our minds. Husband having surgery soon he needs tv to watch and i need my mind back! can you help me?

    • Bob Jackson April 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      So you have a WiFi enabled TV with on-board NetFlix support?

      To activate your “NetFlix ready TV”:
      1) Navigate the TV menu to the NetFlix icon or menu. See the NetFlix web site to find your TV and specific instructions for getting an activation code.
      2) Select the NetFlix activation option on the TV. Write down the activation code.
      3) On your computer, go to the NetFlix device activation web page and enter the code displayed on the TV.

  14. Jen April 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Where do I find the Netflix icon on my LG LD550 TV? We don’t see it anywhere. When I look on the LG site, it says to find this info on the Netflix site; when I look on the Netflix site, it says to find this info on the LG site. Please help. We’re going crazy.

  15. Jen April 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    Strike that; we hadn’t finished the software update.

  16. Isabel April 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    I have a Dell XPS M1210 laptop which does not appear to have an HDMI port [it does have 4 USB ports].

    I’m interested in subscribing to NETFLIX but don’t know how I can stream from my laptop to my Sylvania HD set.

    I get my cable & wireless interenet from Verizon FIOS and the cable box from FIOS has a UBS port in the front of the box. Would it be possible to use this feature to stream NETFLIZ from my laptop to the tv set.

    Any advice you can offer would be most appreciated.

    Thanks.

    • Bob Jackson April 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

      I’m not a FiOS subscriber, but my understanding is the FiOS USB ports are not active.

      Since the Dell XPS M1210 laptop doesn’t have an HDMI port, you’ll have to get a VGA-to-HDMI converter box, for example the Atlona AT-HDVIEW VGA to HDMI Scaler/Converter (USB Powered) which costs around $80.

      You’ll be happier, get better HiDef and save money with a Roku NetFlix player and hook it up to the TV with a HDMI cable.

  17. Tiff B June 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    I have Netflix and would like to start streamlining movies but I dont have any HDMI connection on my computer, is there any other adapter that I can buy (us to HDMI) besides the Roku Netflix player?

    • Bob Jackson June 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

      Computer to HDMI adapter/converters are available, although most cost as much or more than a Roku player and don’t perform nearly as well.

      See the comments dated January 3, 2010 and April 28, 2011 at the end of the How To article for more information about HDMI adapters and specific products.

  18. B G July 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Have a Gateway PC that seems to meet minumum Instant Watch specs. HDMI output to HDMI input on a Samsung TV. Video is choppy on both PC and TV, otherwise fine.

    What’s your guess on the choppy picture? PC settings? Something else?
    Does one need a ‘Netflix’ ready device and activation?

    Thanks

    • Bob Jackson July 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

      > Video is choppy on both PC and TV, otherwise fine.
      If the video is choppy on your PC, it won’t be any better on the TV. Let’s try to fix your PC problem first.

      Try the following fixes:
      1) Log in to your Netflix account.
      2) Click Your Account & Help at the top right corner of the screen.
      3) Scroll down to WATCHING INSTANTLY ON YOUR TV OR COMPUTER.
      4) Click Manage Video Quality.
      5) Click Good quality (up to 0.3 GB per hour).
      6) Try Watch Instantly and check the video quality.

      If the video isn’t choppy, go back and to Step #5 and select Better quality (up to 0.7 GB per hour). Watch an instant movie. No choppy? Good, keep the video quality setting. If not, drop back down to Good quality.

      What is your Internet connection bandwidth? If the Internet bandwidth is too small, say less than 1.0 megabits per second (Mbps) down, you’ll have trouble at anything than the “Good quality” setting.

      Also check that you have the latest version of Microsoft Silverlight, no other background application are running (e.g. virus scan utilities) and no one else is using your Internet connection (e.g. someone watching YouTube videos on an iPhone, playing Internet games, etc.).

      Let me know if this fixes the choppy Netflix streaming problem.

  19. B G July 30, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Thanks Bob I really appreciate the clear help.

    I am able to operate at ‘better’ or best quality and get a good picture now. Only very slightly fuzzy.

    I think I do have the latest version of Silverlight installed. (4.something.something). Unless 5 is out …

    I have a good FIOS bandwidth. It normally howls. But it turns out that my kids were all playing around on the net from different parts of the house while I was setting it up. Good calls all around.

    Many thanks,
    BG

    • Bob Jackson July 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

      > But it turns out that my kids were all playing around on the net from different parts of the house while I was setting it up.
      Ah, so your household maxed out on the FiOS 15/5Mbps Internet service. With so many connected devices in the house anymore (e.g. smartphones, game consoles, computers, IP media boxes, VoIP phones, IP cameras, etc.) it’s easy to max out your Internet bandwidth. I have four iPhones, three computers, Xbox 360, Roku Player, NetGear Skype phone, Insteon home automation and IP cameras. That’s about 15 Internet connected devices all competing for Internet bandwidth. This is why many ISP’s are worried and rolling out bandwidth consumption caps.

      A partial solution for really important devices or services is to configure Quality of Service (QoS) policies on your Verizon FiOS router. See the FiOS user manuals for QoS instructions for your router.

      For example, I configured my Linksys WRT54G WiFi router to give the Skype phone bandwidth priority so my wife’s calls to her relatives in Europe aren’t stomped on by my teenagers watching Internet videos.

  20. B G July 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    What an e-world ! I thought we had a lot of devices, but it sounds like you have your own little analysis lab right in the house.

    I will configure the router also. Again, really appreciate your advice. Netflix should be paying you !!

    • Bob Jackson July 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      > you have your own little analysis lab right in the house.
      Yes – my home LAN is becoming more like a small business network. I recently upgraded a NetGear GS110TP managed GigE LAN switch because the in-house traffic is becoming greater than the Internet link.

      Take care,
      Bob

  21. m lemmon February 3, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Why must I have a router to watch netflix on hdtv? Is that always the case. Bob, you are a saint.

    • Bob Jackson February 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      You can connect your computer directly into the broadband modem – no WiFi router required. Most people have more than one device that needs Internet access (iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, laptops, etc.) and therefore have a WiFi router to provide wired or wireless Internet access to all the devices.

  22. m lemmon February 3, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Do I need a standard, highspeed or cable with ethernet? These are the ones I see for sale. Thanks. I have HP pavilion with Vista.

    • Bob Jackson February 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      Any HDMI cable will be fine – they’re all high speed digital. Try the “Amazon Basics” HDMI cable because it’s a quality reasonably priced cable. The $6 cable works just as well as a the name-brand $40 cable.

  23. Marilyn May 26, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    Hi bob,

    I have a samsung tablet i should b able to connect the usb port into the tv from the tablet and netflix should come up right? I have a philips plasma tv i cant get it to come up

    Marilyn

  24. elizabeth orbin May 29, 2014 at 2:55 am #

    Hi Bob, I have a Sony blu-ray player. Hooked up to a Sanyo TV. We also have a DirectTV box. HDMI cable in port 1 from TV to DVR worked, however when trying to input back to TV mode we couldn’t do I need another HDMI cable for port 2? Thank you in advance and God Bless

    • Bob Jackson May 29, 2014 at 6:16 am #

      Check the TV user manual about changing the input signal source. HDMI cables are inexpensive from Amazon and a 2nd cable may be the simplest solution.

  25. G. George June 7, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    I have an IP box that streams various channels. Unfortunately my TV does not have an HDMI connection. If I use an AV connection from the box to the TV I get a buzzing noise. Is such a connection possible? By the way, if such a connection is possible and also need a separate connection for sound, how would that be possible? The IP box only has USB ports available !!

    • Bob Jackson June 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

      > If I use an AV connection from the box to the TV I get a buzzing noise. Is such a connection possible?
      The buzzing noise may be caused by a bad ground connection. Try plugging the IP box and TV into a quality power strip with power conditioning and filtering features, something like the Panamax PM8-EX.

      You might try an USB to RCA cable adapter for connecting the IP box USB port to a TV that doesn’t have HDMI connectors. Whether this will work or not depends on the type of signal the IP box sends over the USB port. Check the technical specs on your IP box for more info.

      Thanks,
      Bob

      • George June 8, 2014 at 5:46 am #

        Thank you very much Bob. Will give it a go and see how it goes. Regards, George.

  26. Suzanee August 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Hi Bob, I have a Vizio (not sure of the model number) but it is internet ready but we don’t know how to hook up to the internet. We have WiFi established in the home for 2 laptops and 2 tablets but not sure how to hook up the tv. Would like to stream Netflix, please help.

  27. Sheila October 11, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    Can u sync Netflix from a galaxy 5 to your tv without internet. I have both old box type tv’s and new Emerson led hdmi tv’s?

    • Bob Jackson October 13, 2014 at 10:10 am #

      Hi,
      An adapter cable should work. See this question about the Samsung tablet. I don’t have a Galaxy 5 so please check the cable specifications for your smartphone.

      Thanks,
      Bob

  28. Karey October 12, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Hi Bob, I have Netflix hooked up to our flat screen with a HDMI cable. We can see the movie just fine but the sound only comes from the laptop. How can we fix this?

    • Bob Jackson October 13, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      Please see the comments for troubleshooting sound problems in Part 2 of the article.

  29. Yolie November 23, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Hello, i bought a flat screen tv, i do not want direct tv or dish or calbe, i have a dvd player hooked up to it, which works, picture and sound.
    my problem my son gave me a streamer, i set it up so i have Netflix bu i have no sound? the streamer works with my wireless internet, he did no give me a hdmi cord as when he used the streamer he did not need one, it appears i need one but before i buy one i want to be sure that is my issue,Thanks so much for answering my question. Yolie

    • Bob Jackson November 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

      The streaming device should have detailed hookup instructions to the TV. An HDMI cable is best for the highest quality sound and picture.

  30. Yolie November 24, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    my son no longer has the instructions for the streamer but i will get an hdmi cord and try it, i hope it will solve my problem, i will let you know, thank you for getting back to me Yolie

    • Bob Jackson November 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

      Check the streaming video box manufacturer’s website for the User Guide if you’ve lost the printed instructions. Look under Customer Support section or similar heading.

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