The Best Laptops for Streaming Movies

Streaming LaptopEvery day, millions of Americans — more than 100 million of them — enjoy online video streamed to their laptops, tablets and televisions, according to comScore’s 2012 US Digital Future in Focus Report. The same report notes that Americans streamed 43.5 billion videos to their devices back in December 2011, a 44 percent increase since December 2010. Armed with a cheap Netflix subscription and a fast Internet connection, you can enjoy a night of watching the latest movies and your favorite sitcoms, dramas and documentaries from the comfort of your own laptop.

From Laptop to HDTV

There are a few things you should keep in mind as you search for a suitable laptop for your streaming needs. According to Intel’s handy guide on streaming video from your laptop to your HDTV, what you’ll need is one that offers an HDMI port and an HDMI cable. The vast majority of new laptops include these features.

You’ll also need a laptop that’s capable of sending a wide range of streaming content to your HDTV, including 1080p high-definition fare. That means having plenty of RAM and a processor that can easily handle HD movies and videos without any hassles. For example, Netflix requires a minimum 512MB of RAM (or 1GB for Macs) and a 1.2GHz processor.

Nearly all of the laptops featured below offer HDMI-out outputs, necessary for delivering standard and high-definition video and movies to your very own big screen.

#1: Dell Inspiron 15R – $599

The Inspiron 15R offers a sensible and satisfying choice for the budget-minded. The 15R is also available with an optional touch screen for those wanting the versatility of a tablet, but without the tablet part. Under the hood is the latest 4th-gen 1.7GHz Intel Core i3 with Intel HD Graphics 4400, 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

#2: Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch – $1,199

The 13-inch MacBook Pro offers a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with up to 3.1GHz Turbo Boost, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It also offers the vaunted quality, craftsmanship, ease of use and stylishness that Apple’s well known for. For $200 more, you can opt for the Retina display, and enjoy high-definition movies at 2560×1600 pixels.

#3: Apple MacBook Air 13-inch – $1,099

The 13-inch MacBook Air offers ultra-thin computing, complete with a 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5. The machine comes with 2.6GHz Turbo Boost, a 128GB solid state drive, 4GB of RAM and up to nine hours of battery life. Although it’s capable of HDMI audio and video output, you’ll need a third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter to make it work.

#4: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S – $799.99

This unique Lenovo offers the versatility of a tablet with the power and productivity of an ultrabook. With a 1.4GHz Intel Core i3, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM and up to six hours of battery life, you can stream video and movies with relative ease. Like the MacBook Air, the Yoga 11S also offers a 128GB or 256GB SSD.

#5: Samsung Series 7 Chronos – $1,299

The Series 7 Chronos packs a punch thanks to its 2.4GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and AMD Radeon HD 8770M Graphics with bright 1920×1080 resolution. With this much power underneath, you won’t have any problem streaming high-definition video.

John Sanders

John is a freelance writer who specializes in digital technology.