How to turn on and tune into the latest TV shows on the net
Here are some of the options and costs to link your television with the web, says Aideen Sheehan
The final series of cult TV show Breaking Bad has helped drive a surge of subscribers to internet TV and movie provider Netflix.
The company has just passed the 40 million subscriber mark worldwide and though it doesn't give figures for Ireland, a spokesman said there had been a massive uptake since it started here last year – mostly because of the hit US show – in keeping with a trend of Irish people increasingly watching TV and movies online.
RTE Digital said more than a quarter of the population already watches the channel's shows on their mobile phones each week and their RTE Player app has been downloaded to more than 700,000 iPhones and iPads.
But more and more people are opting for joining the internet with their TVs. Smart Consumer took a look at the options and costs involved.
It's possible to simply stream content from your computer or tablet directly to your television using a HDMI cable which costs as little as €5, though you should check what type of TV and computer outputs you have.
This can be a little messy if you want to regularly watch streamed content because your computer has to be plugged in adjacent to your TV but it's by far the cheapest option.
* Games consoles/DVD players
Most computer-game consoles including Nintendo Wiis, Xboxes and Sony Play Stations can stream content such as Netflix and YouTube to your TV.
Later models such as the Wii U come pre-loaded with the Netflix app, but even the older basic ones let you access the internet and watch streamed content via your television.
Many modern DVD players with internet access also allow you to view streamed content.
* Apple TV
These neat little digital boxes connect wirelessly or via cable to your modem and via a HDMI cable to your TV. They cost €109 and are easy to install, coming pre-loaded with apps like YouTube, Sky News, iTunes, Vimeo and Flickr, though some, such as Netflix, involve taking out a subscription. You can also stream your computer and smartphone via your Apple TV.
* Other internet TV players
Google Chromecast is another streaming device similar to Apple TV. You plug it into your TV and connect wirelessly to your internet, and then use your smartphone or tablet to stream content via it to your TV.
It's cheaper than Apple TV at around €46, but the catch is it's not generally available in Ireland, though it can be purchased online via Amazon.
Roku is another big player and its well-reviewed Roku 2XS model costs around €75.
* Smart TVs
Many modern television sets come internet-enabled and with pre-installed apps for popular sites so if you're upgrading your TV it's well worth considering one of these to avoid messing around with different cables, devices and remotes. Prices for Smart TVs start from €309 for a 22-ins Samsung at Harvey Norman and there's a huge range from all the big TV makers.
Getting access to the Netflix library of movies and TV show involves signing-up online and you get one month's free trial, after which it costs €6.99 per month for unlimited access.
You pay by the month and there's no minimum contract, meaning you're not tied in.
As well as Breaking Bad, Netflix has a huge library of movies and TV shows though these aren't generally the very latest releases.