There are several tools that allow you to stream video content from your computer to your television. here I’ll take a look at some easy settings to do this depending on the type of equipment you want to use.
This article assumes your TV or display has HDMI inputs. If you have an old TV with only component cables, then help it out – an HDMI composite converter is your only hope.
Also, there are some basic networking concepts to understand when streaming video.
- wired ethernet network connections will always produce higher quality streams compared to wi-fi.
- to extend the range of wired ethernet without running a lot of wire, a line adapter electrical can pass ethernet through the electrical network. wiring of a building. learn how they work.
- a dual-band ieee 802.11ac wireless router is recommended for multi-device wireless networks and will suffice for the setups mentioned here.
- so-called smart routers TVs they simply connect to a wireless network without an external device. you don’t need to have a smart TV for these setups.
stream from pc to tv directly with hdmi cable
pros: easy setup; hdmi cables are capable of full hd and audio in one cable. cons: Usually not a permanent solution; mobility is limited by the cable; using a tower pc can be cumbersome.
Setup Overview: HDMI outputs come standard on newer laptops, PCs, and Chromebooks. many tablets have mini hdmi outputs, a smaller version of the same thing. Simply run an HDMI-to-HDMI cable between the HDMI ports on the computer and the television to mirror content to both displays. use a mini hdmi to hdmi to connect a tablet to the larger screen.
- ios devices with thunderbolt output will use a mini displayport adapter for connection to hdmi.
- to stream 1080p content to a 1080p (or higher, like 4k or 3d) source you will recommends a high speed hdmi cable.
- some hdmi cables are designated “hdmi with ethernet” for device networking. functionality is only available if both linked devices are enabled for hdmi ethernet channel.
limitations: standard cable length for hdmi exceeds 50 feet due to hd signal degradation over longer distances. An HDMI signal can be further extended (with Full HD reaching up to 228 feet or more) using Cat5/Cat6 extenders and Ethernet cable. note that higher resolutions such as 4k have shorter maximum distances, typically around 100 feet depending on the extender.
Pro Tip: Laptop or tablet screen resolution is important to image quality. You can find Full HD (1920 x 1080) laptops priced under $600; For example, the Acer Aspire E (Intel Core i7-6500U / 8GB / NVIDIA GeForce 940M) has a lot of value as a multimedia laptop.
cast from pc to tv with chromecast
Pros: Easy setup, Cheap Cons: High resolution content may lag or stutter over a wireless network.
Setup overview: Chromecast plugs into the HDMI port of a TV or display and draws power from a USB port on the TV. In the absence of a USB port, Chromecast can be connected to an AC wall outlet. Once connected, Chromecast joins the Wi-Fi network, and other devices on the network can stream content via Chromecast to the TV. basically any apple, android or windows device is compatible with the chromecast app.
The device itself comes in two form factors, a stick-like chassis that resembles a thumb drive, or a round pendant unit designed for better responsiveness.
Limitations: Streaming quality may vary based on available Wi-Fi network bandwidth.
pro tip: use the 5ghz channel on a dual channel wireless router for chromecast. tends to encounter less interference than the 2.4ghz channel.
stream from pc to tv by installing plex software on your pc
pros: plex software organizes media on a pc or nas, making it a media server accessible to any device on your network. cons: The quality of the transmission is subject to the performance of the wireless network.
Setup overview: Install the plex software on the computer that contains the files you want to stream. the software’s setup wizard helps organize your media files on the server, and you install the mobile app on the devices you want to view the content on; This is where a Wi-Fi enabled smart TV comes in handy, but there are workarounds (besides an HDMI directly from the server) if you don’t have one. read on.
limitations: for “non-smart” tvs to network with a plex server, any media streamer will do the trick: roku 3, roku 4, chromecast, apple tv, game consoles current games, all of them have plex support. These devices connect to the television via hdmi and to a router via wired ethernet.
pro tip: you actually don’t need additional software to stream from pc to tv: windows, osx, and linux operating systems have built-in dlna (living network alliance) server capabilities. digital”). since dlna is a dated standard, the server will not recognize all types of media files. plex is capable of on-the-fly transcoding to accommodate streaming of these otherwise unsupported file formats.
plex alternatives: there is playon for roku; tivo users have tivo desktop software for pc. If you have another favorite plex alternative, please let me know in the comments.
stream from pc to tv by connecting an intel compute stick or google chromebit
pros: Your TV becomes a full-featured computer monitor of the operating system by connecting a small device. cons: You may already have laptops, do you need another one?
Setup overview: Stick computers connect to a television’s hdmi port, essentially putting windows 10 (intel computer stick) or chrome os (chromebit) on the screen. The sticks have bluetooth compatibility to connect a wireless keyboard and mouse, and access the internet through a wi-fi connection.
Limitations: Used strictly in a display capacity, no real weaknesses to mention other than the lack of wired ethernet support. laptops are about as powerful as a tablet, so they may be underpowered for anything beyond basic office work and media consumption.
pro tip: When you’re on the go, use it to sync with your cloud apps like dropbox and onedrive and work from anywhere with a TV.
stream from pc to tv using a small form factor (sff) computer as a dedicated media center
pros: A deck of cards sized computer that mounts behind a TV and is powerful enough to stream 4k video and transcode in real time? yes please. Cons: Performance comes at a higher price. Some assembly is required, like insert ram and msata card.
Setup overview: An sff computer can stream content directly to single or multiple displays via hdmi; connects to the network via ethernet or wi-fi to accept streaming content from other networked devices; can act as a plex server to stream media content to other devices; Has fast USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt ports for connecting external storage; and has peripherals that connect via bluetooth or usb 2.0.
There are many options to choose from for sffs. learn more about the different types of sff computers.
limitations: there are not many. SFFs come in various hardware configurations, so you need to understand how to purchase an SFF with the correct specs. you generally need more power to send content to more than one screen and to play high resolution media.
pro tips: use mini-pc barebone configurator to match needs with sff computer specs. Manufacturer enthusiasts use a Raspberry Pi and an external hard drive to create a small and inexpensive SFF variant. There are rpi media center packages that include all the dongles and cables to get you up and running. learn more in my favorite tutorial for this.
surely one of these scenarios will provide the transmission configuration that suits your audiovisual needs. If you have another method or tips to stream from PC to TV, please let me know in the comments.