I have Roku to stream from my computer to my TV. I am interested in the new Salt Lake County Library movie streaming service through Hoopla but don't know if it will work with Roku. I find that most of the movies I want to stream are not available for streaming on Netflix, and I refuse to add a DVD subscription as I may only watch one movie a month, if that. Can you review the current methods for getting Hoopla from one's computer to one's TV?
— Lucy Jordan
Last month, the Salt Lake County Library System joined a growing number of municipalities, including the Los Angeles Public Library, in using a free digital service called Hoopla that allows its patrons to borrow digital copies of movies to stream to their computers or mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.
It's the library's newest service of loaning out digital content after renting out digital music and e-books for electronic readers like the Kindle.
The great thing about Hoopla is that it's not just old public domain movies or bland documentaries from the 1970s like some other library services rent out. Hoopla has about 10,000 movies and television shows available through the service, and most of them are mainstream Hollywood films, many of them fairly current. You can find titles ranging from the classic "Catch-22" and "Logan's Run" to more current movies like "A Perfect World" with Kevin Costner and last year's "The Paperboy" with Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron.
Its catalog may not be as rich as Netflix's, but there are some great movies on Hoopla that aren't on Netflix, such as the classic Robert Redford movie, "The Candidate," and the charming comedy, "Local Hero" with Burt Lancaster. So it's a wonderful complement to other streaming services that doesn't cost money.
Members of participating libraries can access Hoopla by going to its website at www.hoopladigital.com and registering with a library card. Members then can view the movies on a computer's web browser or on the iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device through an app. The only limit is you can view no more than 10 movies per month.
With such a good selection for free, it's important to be able to see these movies on a big TV screen. Hoopla's movies have digital rights management (DRM) built into each video file. It's a form of software copy protection that prevents you from copying the movies to your harddrive, your mobile device or to a disc. But you can still view them on a TV.
All you need are the appropriate cables. If you have a laptop, you can get a cable that runs from the laptop to the TV. What cables you get depends on the type and age of your laptop and television set. The same is true for watching it from a desktop computer. Just ask the clerk at the electronics store which cable to get.
The easier way to get the video on a TV is through a mobile device such as the iPhone. You can also get a cable for your mobile device that plugs into the television. The president of Hoopla said that the company is testing an iOS version of the app will also support AirPlay, a feature with the iPhone and iPad in which you can stream the video wirelessly to the TV. And he said a future update for Android could make Hoopla compatible with Google's Chromecast, the small $35 dongle for TVs that allows you to stream the video from your Android device to your TV.