Remember when the ability to watch a movie on your computer first entered your home as a novelty? Those were the golden days of YouTube and the end of the BlockBuster era. Little did we know, within the next few years that the convenience would soon morph into television-streaming. How things have changed.
For those who love to have the best home entertainment system on the market or simply like to keep up with the times: the latest advancement in technology is television-streaming. Not only can you watch movies from your computer, but you can access the Internet from your television and stream movies, there!
The convenience of streaming content online, when you want, wherever you want, has outpaced conventional viewing methods such as DVDs and cable subscriptions. Today, catching up to speed on your favorite TV shows from your pool deck on your tablet is a piece of cake. You may even be neglecting your television, itself. Well, it’s time to wipe off the dust from your cable box and hook it up to a television-streaming device. Now you can access content that everybody in the family loves from the comfort of your den.
Here’s how to sift through your options – according to your watching habits, budget, and the gadgets you already own.
HDMI Cable. This is the easiest, most budget-friendly method of connecting your TV to the Internet. It’s also the most temporary. All you’ve got to do is connect your laptop to the back of your television with an HDMI cable. First, check to make sure that whatever laptop you plan on using has an HDMI port. If it’s a PC and it does, you’ll see a label with the tiny little letters “HDMI”. Your television will have the same exact port: same shape, same label. For Macbook users — look into a Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter. It won’t cost hardly anything on Amazon.
Depending on your current setup this option is a little clunky and may be out of the picture–If you don’t want to mess with cords. Plus, you’ll have to keep you laptop plugged in, if you don’t want it to die on you. However, if streaming media wirelessly via a set-top box surpasses your needs, this is the perfect way to make use of your large-screen TV without having pay for yet another device in your living room.
Apple TV. If you’re an Apple user, or fan, you’ve probably already looked into this option appease their wireless streaming needs. If not, know that Apple TV runs off an iOS app called AirPlay, which works very similarly to Chromecast. With Airplay, all you have to do is connect to the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV, and choose to stream your music, photos, and videos wirelessly. The great benefit is that it turns your iPhone into a remote and allows you to stream from nearly any device.
AirPlay Mirroring, allows you to mirror whatever you’re seeing on your laptop or iOS device on your external TV screen. The bad news, as always with Apple, is the proprietary software. Supported video formats are limited, and you may experience difficulty trying to play content outside of iTunes. And forget streaming anything from you Android.Chromecast, on the other hand, is supported by any device, including iOS devices and Macs.
Your Gaming System. If you already own an Xbox or Playstation, why not go ahead and use it as your streaming device? With the right resources, you stream media from any gaming console to your television. For instance, Netflix has a very popular option on the PlayStation 3. Either you can install the Netflix app from your the PlayStation Network or you can install the PlayStation Media server on your laptop. As long as you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network, the PlayStation will allow you to stream almost any type of file from your computer.
As with any television-streaming service – just remember the quality of streaming may vary depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi network. If you have several people connected to the same network, you may experience slow streaming or interruption.
Roku. Believe it or not, Roku has been around since 2008 and perfecting its services ever since. Its latest iteration, Roku 4 automatically adapts to whatever television you own and delivers the best picture quality that your TV can display – ensuring maximum quality. Plus, the Roku device offers access to over 750 channels from Netflix to HBO Go. That’s a lot of channels. It supports a wide variety of video formats if you want to stream from your Mac or PC.
Google Chromecast. Videos can be streamed either directly from any Google Chrome tab you have open on either your Mac or PC. This means that VLC and its insane number of different video formats are technically supported. All you have to do is drag and drop the video into Google Chrome, hit the Cast button and off you go. It’s small, lightweight, and only takes up the space of one of the HDMI ports of your TV screen. App support is growing every day, which means that one day we won’t be limited to streaming content from a limited number of apps (as of now, YouTube and Google Chrome) on mobile devices.