How To Wirelessly Stream From Phone, Tablet and PC to TV

The recent launch of Google’s new TV streaming dongle, the Chromecast has stirred up a lot of interest, not least because it makes it simple to cast or mirror streaming media wirelessly straight from your computer browser, smartphone or tablet onto your big screen TV set. There are also other options to get the movie or show from a PC or mobile screen to a big television screen. Here we look at the options to stream, both the old fashioned but simple wired way, and the cooler and getting easier by the day wireless way.

mirror-tv-laptop-tablet-phoneWired Connections

Currently to get the same effect, most people use a wired connection such as a HDMI or similar cable to connect from a laptop or PC to the TV set. For mobile and tablet devices a MHL cable can be used. MHL sends media from a number of supported mobile devices to a HDTV using a thin cable, this cable provides power for the connected device and charges it at the same time. MHL supports upto 1080p HD Video as well as 7.1 surround sound.

There are a selection of  MHL devices available from TVs to Blu-ray players, cables,  monitors, projectors, smartphones, tablets and more. There is also an  MHL-HDMI adaptor for devices that are not MHL enabled. Also with MHL you are able to control the attached device by using the TV’s remote control.

Wireless Streaming

However simple and efficient a HDMI cable is, there are instances where you may not want a long wire tailing across a room, or it may not be practical. But if you are looking to wirelessly send movies, shows and music, do you need Chromecast or Apple TV in your life, or can you make use of the other video sending options that are currently on the market? We take a look at the different options available to mirror, cast, send, stream or throw content to your television set.

Chromecast

chromecast-logoThe thumb sized Chromecast dongle plugs into your televisions HDMI port and ‘casts’ media from any compatible app running on pretty much any device including PC, mobile phone and tablet (android, windows 8 and iOS), to the chromecast via the cloud. It is a neat system and your sending device also becomes the remote control. Once plugged into your TV a WiFi connection needs setting up and you’re good to go.

Compatible with –  Any device running Android 2.3 and above, iOS 6 and above, Windows 7 or 8, Mac OS 10.7 and above, Chrome browser.

What can be streamed? Compatible apps with the Chromecast button which include Google Video, YouTube, and Netflix currently, and any content can be streamed from the Chrome web browser.

Airplay

airplay-logoThe service that started it all and everyone is familiar with, especially those owning an iphone or ipad is the Apple AirPlay feature. Airplay works by using the Apple TV STB (set-top box), or any third party licensed hardware as the receiver and lets you stream or mirror video, audio and even apps and games from the sender which is any other Apple device running itunes via the home Wi-Fi network. It works great but it only works within the Apple ecosystem and simply mirrors what is on your mobile device, so you have to have the same thing running on 2 devices until you are done.

Compatible with - Sending unit Apple Mac or iOS device such as iPad 2 and above, iPhone 4S and above running iOS 6 and above, receiver Apple TV and compatible Airplay devices.

What can be streamed? The service mirrors whatever you are running on your Apple device so games, apps, streaming media and music etc.

DLNA

dlna-logoDLNA is a standard that allows you to share media across the home network, DLNA has the advantage that it works over Wi-Fi as well as Ethernet and can send files . This enables you to play any media such as video, pictures and mp3 audio onto a DNLA equipped TV sets as well as more mundane tasks such as printing a document without plugging the printer in.

A DLNA system uses the UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) protocol to discover what device it is connected to and whether it is sending unit (server) for the media, a TV that displays the media (renderer) or the player that determines how the media is displayed (controller). DLNA specifies the media types and playback characteristics that the connected devices then make use of.

The DLNA system is somewhat restricted and cannot use almost all free video and audio codecs and therefore needs to transcode the stream on the fly before sending it to the receiving device.

Both XBMC and PLEX media centers have the ability to use the DLNA standard, XBMC when setup can receive media pushed by another DLNA enabled device. DNLA systems need both a server and client, the client can be any device with DLNA enabled. With more than 18 thousand DLNA devices on the market they cover everything from computers and Blu-rays to smart TV sets. Apple devices are not DLNA enabled as they make use of the in-house AirPlay system.

Compatible with - Computers, Smart TV sets, Blu-Ray players, streaming boxes, game consoles, tablets and phones.

What can be streamed? The service connects to the home network using the UPnP protocol and can play video, pictures and music by transcoding on the fly and using the receivers media player capabilities.

Miracast

miracast-logoMiracast runs on a similar principle and works as an alternative to AirPlay, but it is an open standard rather than a closed shop like Airplay. The system is built on top of WiFi Direct and acts like a wireless HDMI connection where everything gets copied from one screen to another using H.264 codec and its own DRM system.

The system operates similar to screencast, which is a realtime screen capture of computer screen output. But, does not record the video to your hard drive instead it streams the video captured over a network to a device which has a screen, like for instance a TV set.

Miracast can handle upto 1080p video and 5.1 surround between two connected devices, both devices need to be Miracast enabled. Many devices support the miracast standard and there are adapters available for devices without Miracast that can plug into usb and hdmi ports.

Compatible with - Runs on devices running Android 4 and above, generally in tablets and phones, the standard is also expected to be available in Windows 8.1 and Blackberry 10.2. Samsung already have Miracast solutions on many of it’s products.

What can be streamed? Movies, shows, music and games running from compatible apps.

Slingbox

The Slingbox kind of does wireless streaming but in a back-to-front way. Instead of sending web content to the big TV screen, it enables the sending of cable TV content from your home, to anywhere you happen to be in the world that has a WiFi connection. Slingbox is a simple looking set-top box which you connect to your TV at home, then you can send that signal on the screen to another connected device in real-time. It can be great for travellers that want to watch the cable they pay for, and it bypasses international broadcasting restrictions as well.

So there you have a number of alternatives and solutions to move your media files around devices you own. Hopefully a standard will soon be set that comes pre-installed on all devices and is as easy as pressing a single button. But until then you can achieve the wonders of mirroring content, but you just have to work that little harder.

Wireless USB

There are a number of wireless USB options for an easy way to connect your PC to the TV set. They work by plugging a HDMI dongle into the TV and a corresponding wireless USB dongle into your computer. They will work with any TV and PC combo and will stream whatever is on the PC straight to the television. Drawbacks include a limited range of around 10 feet.

Now you know how to stream wirelessly, visit our list of free movie websites and check out our guide to cutting the cord.

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19 Comments

  1. Ed
    Ed August 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    You missed Wireless HD, which is 60ghz uncompressed full HD video that is the best solution out there. Read up on it at http://www.siliconimage.com

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  3. Docik
    Docik September 5, 2013 at 8:35 am

    If you have more or less new Intel PC and WiDi supportive TV, then you can use your TV as a wireless display, meaning you can stream any content you want.
    http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/intel-wireless-display.html

    B.R.

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  5. gary
    gary October 12, 2013 at 3:49 am

    Great article guys, but i still find it too erratic to have a wireless connection. I seem to get too many dropouts. HDMI lead works best for me.

  6. vipul jain
    vipul jain November 10, 2013 at 9:04 am

    i want to buy a device that android phone can be connected to simple hdmi lcd

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  8. gordon
    gordon November 20, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    HI

    I’ve connected my Pc running on windows 7 through WIFI to an denon avrx-1000 receiver through DLNA. All works well when I stream music through WMP version 12, however I cannot seem to find the denon icon/name as an output option for all media for my pc as I would on a mac by going preferences, sound and output options. As a result youtube media still outputs on the laptop speakers – Do I still use DLNA or I need to get one of the other options described in this article ? many thanks !

  9. Lisa
    Lisa November 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I cannot get on with wireless, i suggest either a hdmi or ethernet cable. They can easily be hidden and can be brought in long lengths and avoid all the hassle with dropped signals and lagging frames etc. I think wireless is the way to go, it’s not quite there yet.

  10. Nandkishor Joshi
    Nandkishor Joshi December 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    My SONY HDTV is without MHL or DLNA functionality.In spite of this will CHROMECAST be adaptable to my NON SMART TV NON INTERNATE TV ? Pl advice me suitably.

  11. Lorraine
    Lorraine January 4, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    How can I control my tv remote control through my tablet, cell phone

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  15. Wenda Freedman
    Wenda Freedman May 2, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Have Windows 7 64 bit and Apple TV but so far cannot connect wirelessly

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  17. Jason Lee
    Jason Lee July 1, 2014 at 12:45 am

    It seems like ShareON uses DLNA as well. You can transfer several hundreds of pictures and more than 3 GB worth of videos from your computer to phone to TV wirelessly. All you need to do is have the app and have it on your other devices.

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  19. Hi any one
    Hi any one September 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    HI to anyone im using my mobile to laptop by tethering. I would like to know if i can also relay the wireless to my non smart HD TV?

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