How to watch YouTube videos on your TV

Even a "dumb" TV can stream flash-mob dances and piano-playing cats. You just need the right source.

When the time comes to view that hot new YouTube video everyone's talking about, which would you rather do: gather around a laptop, tablet, or, horrors, smartphone, or kick back and enjoy it on your big-screen TV?

Thought so.

Although YouTube was built for Web browsers, it can easily find a home in your living room. All you need is the right gear. If you don't have a so-called smart TV that already has a YouTube channel, here's an overview of the various ways to watch all your favorite cat videos from the comfort of your couch.

Apple

Apple TV
Apple's set-top box has a built-in YouTube channel, and if you pair it with the Apple TV Remote app, you can enter search words and phrases much more easily using your iDevice's onscreen keyboard.

Game consoles
All the major game consoles have YouTube channels, but not all of them are free. If you want to watch on an Xbox 360 or Xbox One, for example, you need to be an Xbox Live Gold subscriber.

PlayStation 3 owners can stream all you the YouTube they want free of charge, but curiously there's no YouTube channel on the PS4 -- not yet, anyway. However, there's an easy workaround: open the PS4's Web browser and head to www.youtube.com/tv.

On the Wii and Wii U, you simply fire up the YouTube app -- no subscription or extra fees required.

Google

Google Chromecast
Given that Google owns YouTube, it should come as no surprise that the $35 Chromecast video dongle allows for YouTube streaming. Just keep in mind you'll need a compatible smartphone or tablet to make it happen.

Roku box
It's a mystery for the ages: Roku's media-streaming boxes, which offer pretty much every streaming service known to man, don't support YouTube.

Fortunately, there are a couple easy ways around this vexing limitation. The easiest (and cheapest) is to use the newly reborn MyVideoBuzz (formerly VideoBuzz, which was yanked as a Roku channel earlier this year).

The MyVideoBuzz channel brings YouTube to Roku boxes.
The MyVideoBuzz channel brings YouTube to Roku boxes. Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

First, venture into your Roku's settings and find its IP address. Next, using either Chrome or Firefox, download and run the MyVideoBuzz installer. You may encounter an error message, but continue on until you see the pop-up box with instructions. These include entering your box's IP address and then activating its developer mode. The whole process is a little convoluted, but it works.

You can also use PlayOn, a service that streams a wealth of TV content -- including YouTube -- to its Roku channel. Go to https://owner.roku.com/Add/MYPLAYON, log in to your Roku account, and add the private channel code MYPLAYON.

Your laptop or tablet
If you're not interested in buying extra gear, consider using what you already have. Any laptop with an HDMI output can easily be connected to an HDTV (via an inexpensive cable) for a "traditional" YouTube viewing experience via Web browser.

Alas, that keeps you tethered to your TV, which isn't exactly convenient for video-surfing. Some Ultrabooks incorporate Intel's WiDi technology for wireless screen mirroring to your TV, but in most cases you'll need something connected to the TV that acts as the receiver. (A handful of TVs already have the technology baked in.)

Finally, don't forget your tablet: Many Android models (including some previous-generation Kindle Fires) have Micro-HDMI outputs that allow for connectivity to a TV's HDMI input. That keeps you tethered like with a laptop, but at least you don't have to futz with a touch pad or mouse just to navigate YouTube.

Have you found a better way to watch YouTube on your TV? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Looking for an affordable tablet?

CNET rounds up high-quality tablets that won't break your wallet.