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How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV – Part 2

Bob Jackson
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by Bob Jackson

How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV: Windows Vista and Windows 7 configuration steps to stream Netflix Instantly from your computer HDMI port to the TV.

This tutorial is continued from How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV – Part 1.

Watch Netflix Instantly: Windows 7 and Vista Configuration Steps

TV Audio/Video Input Source Select

Look for the “AV Source” input select button on your TV remote control. My TV is normally set to AV 1: SAT for DirecTV. In the image below, the laptop is logged into Netflix while the TV is showing a hockey game on DirecTV.

TV Audio Video Input Source Selection
TV Audio Video Input Source Selection

Click the AV input source button on the remote to choose the HDMI port (in my case HDMI 1) which the computer is plugged into.

HDMI 1 Audio Video Input
HDMI 1 Audio Video Input

Very important – you will see a blank screen on the TV until you tell the computer to use the external display! Refer to your computer’s user guide for the specific keystroke for selecting an external display. On the HP Pavillion laptop, press Fn + F4 keys together to toggle between the laptop display, laptop and external display (TV), and external display (TV) only. On a Dell LatitudeD630, the key combination is Fn + F7. (Do not press the plus + sign.)

In the next image, the laptop and TV displays are both active.

Netflix Watch Instantly: TV Audio Video Source set to HDMI Port 1
Netflix Watch Instantly: TV Audio Video Source set to HDMI Port 1

If the keyboard external display selection, doesn’t work, configure the TV display through the Windows Control Panel.

Windows Control Panel TV Display Selection

If your TV displays a blank screen, desktop wallpaper with no icons or the computer screen saver, the most likely cause is the Microsoft Windows has defaulted to “Extend these displays“. This mode is normally used by pro users who want to use two monitors or displays. You should be able to watch Netflix on the TV by dragging the web browser window with the mouse to the far right so it shows on TV Display #2. In this example I have my Windows 7 laptop connected to a Samsung HDTV with an HDMI cable. The Samsung HDTV is automatically detected as Display #2:

Watch Netflix - Computer Displays Blank or Screen Saver on TV
Watch Netflix – Computer Displays Blank or Screen Saver on TV

If your TV or computer is uncooperative, you can change the external display in Microsoft Windows navigating to:

  • Control PanelAppearance and PersonalizationAdjust Screen Resolution
  • Multiple DisplaysDuplicate these displaysApply

This setting will make the computer and TV displays the same, mirroring whatever is shown on the computer to the TV screen:

Watch Netflix - Duplicate Computer Display on TV
Watch Netflix – Duplicate Computer Display on TV

If you’re still having trouble, try making the TV the primary display. The Samsung TV in this example is Display #2.

  • Multiple DisplaysShow desktop only on 2Apply
Watch Netflix - Choose TV for Computer Desktop Display
Watch Netflix – Choose TV for Computer Desktop Display

Differences in Windows device drivers may require experimentation to see what works for your computer and TV.

Configure Windows 7 HDMI Audio

At this point, you will have video but no sound through the TV.

It’s necessary to configure the Windows HDMI sound device before watching Netflix. To configure Windows, do the following:

  • StartControl PanelHardware and Sound
  • In the Sound section, click Manage audio devices
Control Panel: Manage Audio Devices
Control Panel: Manage Audio Devices
  • The Sound dialog is displayed. The computer speakers and headphone output is the default device as indicated by the check sign in the green circle.
Control Panel: Sound set for PC Speakers
Control Panel: Sound set for PC Speakers
  • Click the Digital Output Device (HDMI) and click the Set Default button to change the default sound device to HDMI so we can hear the sound on the TV.
Control Panel: HDMI Audio Output
Control Panel: HDMI Audio Output
  • Click Properties and the Advanced tab.
  • Click Test. You should hear a melody played on the TV speakers.
Control Panel: HDMI Audio Test
Control Panel: HDMI Audio Test
  • Click OK and go back to the Control Panel.
  • In the Hardware and Sound section of the Control Panel, click Adjust System Volume. Verify the sound volume is at 100% for the Digital Device Output (HDMI). 100% is should be the default setting.
HDMI Output Sound Volume
  • Save your settings and exit the Control Panel.

Configure Screen Saver and Power Timeouts

Disable the Windows screen saver and “Turn off the Monitor” power management settings. Otherwise, you’ll be watching a movie only to have the screen go blank after 10 or 15 minutes when Windows goes to sleep! Do the following:

  • StartControl PanelAppearance and PersonalizationChange Screen Saver
  • Change the screen saver to 9999 minutes (or a period that is longer than your movie!) as shown.
Screen Saver Timeout Set 9999 Minutes
Screen Saver Timeout Set 9999 Minutes
  1. Click OK to save and return to the Control Panel.
  2. In the Control Panel, click on Power OptionsChange when the computer sleeps
  3. Set Turn off the display to Never, and Put the computer to sleep to Never
  4. Click OK to save and exit the Control Panel.

Watch Netflix on TV through the Computer

At the computer, login to your Netflix account, pick movie in the “Watch Instantly” category and click Play.

Netflix Watch Instantly - Computer Connected to TV
Netflix Watch Instantly – Computer Connected to TV

To view the movie in full screen mode, scroll down and click the full screen button as shown:

View the Movie in Full Screen Mode
View the Movie in Full Screen Mode

Once you’ve got everything setup correctly, turn off the computer display by pressing Fn + F4 (or the appropriate key combo on your computer) a couple of times – wait several seconds between keypresses – to turn off the laptop display and show the movie only on the TV.

Netflix Watch Instantly on TV - Streaming Video over the Internet
Netflix Watch Instantly on TV – Streaming Video over the Internet

My experience with Netflix streaming video has been great! The videos load quickly and movie starts playing in a minute or so over a 6mbps DSL connection over my home WiFi network. A refinement of my setup is to run a digital audio out line from the TV to my home theater audio system. Until then the stereo speakers on the HDTV do an acceptable job.

Troubleshooting Netflix Watch Instantly on TV

  • The most common problem is no sound on the TV speakers after configure the Windows Digital Audio Device (HDMI). Save the HDMI configuration and try rebooting the computer.
  • Check with your computer manufacturer for an sound device driver update for HDMI.
  • Verify the TV volume is turned up. I have a home theater audio system so my TV volume is normally off.

Good watching!
Bob Jackson

Configure Microsoft Windows for HDMIConfigure Windows for HDTVDirecTVDVDexternal display
Bob Jackson
Bob Jackson
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