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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adventures In Streaming

I've had bad luck trying to stream Netflix. My Wii does it really well, but it's in the basement and I have one lawn chair down there to sit on. Not exactly the most comfortable thing in the world. Since I want the Wii to stay in the basement, I bought a Roku player next. This was supposed to stream Netflix and a bunch of other stuff, but it stopped working in the middle of a movie and Roku support was a huge joke. But that's another story.

I've tried streaming on my laptop, but I didn't like that. I also researched Blu-Ray players, but my head started spinning and I gave up on that idea. My last ditch effort was to buy an HDMI cable.

I chose the 25 foot cable. Don't ask me why I did that because my TV is certainly not that far away from the laptop, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Last night, as I looked at the curling cable and the weight of it against the connection to the laptop, I thought, oy! Not the best idea ever.

But I'm jumping ahead slightly. So last night I decided it was a good time to use the HDMI cable and stream a movie. I found instructions online and it seemed easy enough. I plugged the cable into the TV and into the laptop and tried to switch the TV's input. Only the menu didn't have any options for this. I flipped through all the items, clicked and arrowed my way around, but nada. That means I need the instruction book for the television. I found it in the third place I looked. Not too bad.

Armed with the instructions, I found the input button on the remote. I clicked down to HDMI 1 and hit enter.

No signal.

Hmm. Maybe I need to do something with the laptop. The online site I found said something about toggling the laptop between its own display and the television.

This is where the fun began.

Sony didn't include an instruction manual with the Vaio, so I tried different key combinations. One of them put the laptop into sleep mode, although I didn't realize that was what had happened at first. Not knowing what happened meant I didn't know how to fix it. Hitting the same keys didn't help. Neither did the escape button. Finally, though, I figured out what had happened and brought the laptop back to life.

I tried setting up so that the sole display was the external monitor (TV). That was a scary place to be because the TV had no signal and now the laptop display is gone! Rebooting didn't bring it back up and I was sweating (and slightly panicked) until--somehow--I got the laptop screen working again.

I visited the Sony website, opened the PDF instruction book. It says to put the laptop into TV Configuration mode, but they didn't say how to do this. Searching the manual for this phrase netted me nothing.

For more than an hour, I tried to stream a movie. I was about to concede defeat and resign myself to never streaming Netflix, when I had a sudden thought. What if the plug-in on the TV wasn't HDMI 1?

This seemed like a long shot. After all, it was the top HDMI port, how could it not be 1? But maybe I accidentally slotted it in 2 and thought it was in 1. I clicked to 2.


I clicked to HDMI 3.





There was my laptop display! The Netflix site, the streaming instructions, Twitter! Woot! They'd numbered the ports backward (to my way of thinking) labeling the lowest HDMI port as 1 and the upper most port as 5. I could watch Netflix!

I didn't start my viewing with 2012. I picked some other movie in my queue whose name I've forgotten already. It involved dragons causing an apocalypse on Earth and had Christian Bale who is hot. Unfortunately, about 20 minutes into the movie, I knew I couldn't sit through it, not even for hot men. That's when I tried the 2012 movie, which was watchable, but was a science disaster from beginning to end.

There was only one problem with the streaming--my good laptop was tied up for the length of the movie. It's the only laptop I have that has an HDMI port.