while video streaming in 1080p is nto a hugely demanding task there are very few onboard solutions een in desktops that can meet this demand. there are a few onboard chips that will fit the bill however as you haven't provided a make and model laptop we'll have to assume that it is not one of them. a dedicated graphics card will help this and even a low power dedicated graphics card would be able to handle high def playback
curious are you lookign at laptops becuase you want a laptop and this is a function you want , or is being an htpc the primary use of this machine?
Laptops are tricky. Without knowing the exact specs, it's hard to presume whether it'll work without a dedicated GPU. Integrated GPUs rely quite a bit on system resources (RAM & CPU). So a low budget laptop with a lower end processor probably won't do that well.
Many laptops these days have the Intel HD graphics accelerator in them, which is horrible for anything beyond internet/email. The dedicated graphics cards generally offered on laptops less than $600 are usually not very good either, but are still a lot better than the integrated Intel stuff. Therefore, it would still serve you better if you're trying to stream or edit or view HD content.
We want a laptop so we will be doing other things, but one primary task will be the hdmi streaming to hdtv. I have been shopping a while and I like the new dell xps 15 or the hp envy 15, but a little high priced. the alternatives are the dell 15R and 14R and the HP Pavilion. Any recommendations on these or others. I like asus too....
As far as chips go I want an i5, but i3 is more affordable so as you can see the GPU is my sticking point. But after you good advice I am definitely going for the dedicated graphics. So now just looking for a good/affordable cpu/gpu combo.