Playing Hulu through Remote Desktop

Posted on 2011-09-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hello Everyone,

First off, I need you to be familiar with my setup:

1 Windows 7 Desktop, 42" HDTV hooked up through HDMI as duplicate screen.

1 Windows 7 Laptop

They are both hooked up to the same router on the same network and can access shared resources.

Question: I will use my laptop to remote into my desktop, therefore I can control the TV screen from my laptop. When I use streaming video like hulu or Windows Media Player, it is very slow and choppy. I believe it is trying to put the entire stream through the remote session, and I just want the video to run as if it was on the local machine.

I need to get rid of the choppyness!

Any help would be appreciated,


Question by:jeffiepoo
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36555949
That's not possible. Remote desktop uses special protocol to transfer the screen graphics from the host to the remote machine. By design it was created for a different purpose, and streaming video is not possible.

Let me see if I can explain this correctly: When you watch a video on your screen you get a constant stream of data through your video card to your screen. Now remote desktop is a completely different. Your host computer takes a snapshot of what's on your screen compresses and sends it to the remote computer. That happens several times a second, but it's nowhere near the rate at which the video is flowing/streaming.

That's why you can see the regular desktop and icons without issues but when you watch anything that's moving on your screen it's a bit slow.

So again. What you want to do is IMPOSSIBLE. it's not the speed of your network and it's not the speed of your computer. it's just not designed for that purpose.

Author Comment

ID: 36555973
I need to clarify:

I don't want the video to be streamed on the laptop.

I DO want the video to stream on the desktop. I am not watching the laptop, I'm watching the desktop through the TV.

When I am remoted into the desktop, the video is still choppy on the desktop. I just want the video to stream seamlessly on the local computer (desktop) while I'm remoted into it.

I know it is trying to stream to the laptop that that is not what I want , I want to start hulu on the desktop and have the desktop play everything regularly.
LVL 39

Accepted Solution

Aaron Tomosky earned 500 total points
ID: 36555974
While it is impossible to make rdp run video smooth, it's not impossible to do some other stuff to accomplish your goals. First off, I'll assume you are watching the movie on your laptop. If I'm wrong and you just want to remote control using the laptop but view on the tv let me know.

Here are some ways to use the laptop to play movies from the desktop:
-The laptop can hit a network file share and play the movie
- the laptop can just goto
-the desktop can run vlc and stream out the video over the local network, the laptop can use vlc to watch the stream (vlc is both a player and a server). This is a really neat setup as Multiple viewers can watch the same stream usin multicasting in real time.

Here is how you remotely control the desktop to play on the tv using the laptop:
- use vlc on the desktop, it has a built in web server that the laptop can use to control the playlist. Also there is a program called vlc remote which does this cleaner than a web page
-use vnc instead of rdp. So run ultravnc server on the desktop and use ultravnc viewer on the laptop. This mirrors the screen ofthe desktop on the laptop so the laptop will be choppy bur the tv will be smooth.

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LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36555992
Oh, not I understand what's going on. One way to overcome the problem is not to use the same user account. I'm not 100% as to what goes on in the background while the RDP session is established, but I suspect that it is trying to send data to the laptop. And since that is slow it is slowing the desktop's playback too. Try this, create another Admin User on the desktop and RDP to the desktop with that new user's account.

Sorry for not understanding your issue in the beginning.


Expert Comment

ID: 36556004
I use a similar setup and have run into a couple of issues you mentioned.

I have a Laptop with a docking station hooked upto a smaller 32inch LCD.

I manage it remotely to play movies through my second Laptop or iPhone. (VLC Remote)

Firstly check if the movie is playing correctly on the Laptop. If it is then check whats the video size. For a 42inch screen, you need high resolution to be streamed, which means more bandwidth.

My suggestion is, download a high def video file or movie, play it though VLC on the 42inch screen.

If it plays fine, Then all you are looking at is a bandwidth issue. You might have high speed, but the video server needs to send you high res pictures fast! try streaming from youtube as well.


Expert Comment

ID: 36556013
I might suggest using DLNA/uPNP or XBMC or Boxee depending on what you are trying to watch.  You can use different methods of controlling these with remote apps and interfaces.  If you just want to simply remote control the desktop use VNC instead of RDC as aarontomosky suggests.  You may need to disconnect VNC after you start the stream to avoid slowness or choppiness.  Remote control and RDP often employ filter drivers to split or redirect streams and can't keep up with the doubling of data streams.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 36556038
Well now that the problem has been clarified, id definitely suggest using vlc to play on the desktop/tv.  Then use the laptop to just remote control it: start with the web interface as it's built in and no download is required for the laptop/iPhone/whatever just a browser

For hulu, you can use vnc, and as suggested, kill the remote session when the movie is playing to speed it up if necessary. There are also vnc apps that don't share the screen, just the mouse. So your laptop basically becomes a wireless mouse/keyboard. Ms has a new one that looks promising:

I use an iPhone/iPad one called airmouse, and there are others as well.

Author Comment

ID: 36562855
Excellent, thanks for the suggestions guys. I will try using VNC like you suggested.

What I was doing was logging into a different user account on the desktop, then requesting to control the user account that was playing movies using the task manager. When I would play movies, they would be choppy on the desktop and the laptop.

Hopefully VNC works better. Thanks.


Author Comment

ID: 36950589
VNC Worked. Thanks guys.

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