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Stream movies from the Web to your TV

February 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Are you still getting off your couch to rent a movie? Now you can easily and cheaply stream movies from the Web onto your big-screen TV and watch a movie in minutes. The options for streaming movies to your TV set are exploding. Now you can typically access thousands of movies on demand and it's cheaper and easier than ever.

Stacy Black rents several movies a month without ever leaving her house via the Web.

"I don't have to spend the time going into Blockbuster, looking around the aisles for a movie that I want to see. I can look online," said Black.

A $9 a month subscription through Netflix gets her rentals in the mail, and for no extra charge, instant online access to 17,000 titles, both movies and TV episodes.

Consumer Reports tester Chris Andrade says to connect your TV to an online service, you need an Internet-ready TV or a device, such as a Blu-ray player, a Playstation 3 or an Xbox 360.

"There are other Internet-ready boxes you can buy that aren't too expensive, including ones from Roku, Apple TV and Vudu," said Andrade.

Vudu offers 20,000 titles, costing between $3 and $6 each depending on whether you choose to watch a movie in standard definition, high definition, or a higher-quality format called HDX.

Blockbuster has also gotten into the video-on-demand game. For $2 to $4, you can browse through about 10,000 titles -- thousands more than what's available in a typical video store. The downside is they are all in standard definition.

For the best picture quality, Consumer Reports says look to Vudu, whose HDX format comes closest to Blu-ray. It also provides Dolby Digital audio output.

But no matter which service you choose, a few clicks can have you streaming movies in no time at all.

If all this has you itching for a new Internet-ready TV, be aware, many manufacturers have partnered with some movie services but not all services. And, if you're not ready to buy a new TV consider a Blu-ray player with Internet capability.