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How to connect your laptop to your TV

What do you need to connect your laptop to your TV?

If you're like I'm watching a lot of movies and TV shows on your computer. It is still the ultimate media machine, which can play all file formats and output to any device with the correct cables. It is also the ultimate video game system, which can play the widest library of games available with the widest range of controls. There is only one catch: Most monitors (and all portable screens) are less than the average TV. So why not just connect your laptop to your TV and watch or play what you want on a larger screen?

You can, and there are several ways to do it. Not all methods are appropriate for all situations. Depending on where your TV is, where your computer is, how your home is set and what media you plan to consume, you need to consider how to connect your notebook to your TV.

Here are your options, and

HDMI: Connecting with a Cable


This is the most direct and reliable way to connect your laptop to your TV. It is also the most limited of your home layout. It's a simple solution: Run a physical HDMI cable between your computer and your TV and get the best performance and reliability. A wireless connection means the best picture quality and minimum input delay, and is not affected by the wireless network environment around your home. That's what I'm using in my apartment, and it lets me play PC games on my TV. In fact, the low extension of a wired connection makes this one of the few acceptable ways to play PC games on your TV (although Steam Link has proven to be worth it on the front, especially if you can connect it to your network via Ethernet). It also supports 4K resolution, if your laptop can handle it in the first place.

My apartment is of course a studio, so it's easy. If you keep your computer in a separate room, it is not the most practical or realistic solution to drive a cable. If you do not care about a small construction, you can build wires between rooms and keep a cable in the wall to avoid mess, but it's not possible for everyone (especially tenants). There is also a distinct limitation of the range. At best, you can drive a 50 meter HDMI cable before losing signal quality. More realistically, you may like to hiccup in the picture if you go over 25 feet. There is HDMI amplifier that can extend the range of your cables, but it adds more cost and complication to the installation.

Advantages: Best image quality and input delay. Most reliable connection. Supports 4K. Probably the only method that is really suitable for gaming.

Cons: Physical wiring can be a pain to run between rooms or over long distances. Limited supply without additional equipment to increase the signal.

Chrome-friendly streaming: Chromecast and Google Cast

 Google Chromecast

If you want to send live movies and TV shows directly from your laptop to your TV, Google is Chromecast is an easy way to do it wirelessly. Simply connect it to the back of your TV and connect it to your network. You can stream all Chrome tabs from your notebook to it with a single click. That means Netflix, Hulu and almost all other major streaming services. It also means any YouTube video, animated gif, interesting website or other content that you can load in Chrome.

If it's not compulsive, it's very cheap for a physical device with 1080p Chromecast available for $ 35 and the 4K capable Chromecast Ultra available for $ 69. If you have a TV that uses Android TV as connected platform, you get all the benefits of the built-in Chromecast without buying anything extra.

Chromecast is highly functional for computers, but it's more suited to mobile devices that support Google Cast. If you have an Android phone or Chromebook, you can stream your device's entire screen to a Chromecast instantly without going through a Chrome tab. A large number of streaming apps also have Google Cast support, so you can stream media from these apps to Chromecast and use your phone as a remote. PC control is a bit more limited, mainly focused on the Chrome browser as a front end.

Advantages: Cheap. Streaming video files or browser tabs. Chromecast Ultra and some Android TVs support 4K.

Cons: PC integration and support are limited compared to with Android devices.

Wireless Windows Standard: Miracast

 Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

Intel's WiDi wireless imaging technology has been interrupted, but Miracast has the burner and it is supported nationally in both Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. Simply click the message button in the system tray, expand the buttons on the popup menu and click Connect. You will be able to mirror your screen directly to a Miracast-compatible device on your network. It includes many smart TV and media streamers. You can also get a dedicated Miracast receiver and connect it to your TV (Microsoft makes an official $ 50 receiver known as the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, which almost certainly works with your modern Windows computer). With your computer connected, the screen will appear on your TV via its Miracast-compatible screen streams or Miracast tuner.

It's a more economical solution than using a wireless HDMI extender, and depending on your TV's smart platform, you may already be able to use it. However, like the extender, the video resolution usually increases at 1080p. If you have a higher resolution display, the screen will probably scale down when it is transferred to the TV or adapter. Like most wireless solutions, it may also affect the display mode, which will damage it over it.

Advantages: Native supported by Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 and some smart TV platforms. Recipients are relatively cheap.

Cons: Usually does not support 4K.

If you have built a large media library on your computer, you can stream it easily to your TV using Plex. Plex is media server software that can catalog all your video and audio files and stream them to any device running the Plex app. It can also act as a front end for streaming media services and can also record live TV with a USB receiver.

All major media streamers support Plex, along with many smart TV platforms. It can also stream to your phone, tablet, or any other compatible device outside your house, as long as your computer is on and connected to the internet. Plex is available for free, but for more advanced features like live tv and DVR, you must get Premium Plex Pass for $ 4.99 per month, $ 39.99 per year, or $ 119.99 for a lifetime subscription.

Plex is highly functional for media playback and streaming, even in its free form. However, it does not support any kind of screen mirror. Everything that is streamed to the Plex app on your TV or media streamer must be registered through the server's software. It does not mean any games. It also peaks at 1080p, so it can not flow 4K.

Advantages: Robust media format and service support. Available outside the home. Free, with optional premium subscription for advanced features.

Cons: Does not support 4K. Does not work with games.

Just For Games: Spark Link

 Spark Link

The valve released the steam link a few years ago, and while it did not, it does not make many waves, we were impressed by Its performance. It is a media streamer designed specifically for PC games. You connect it to your TV, connect a controller to it and you can play games on your computer through it. Your computer handles all graphical processing, and the steam link handles audio / video and input data. It is surprisingly acceptable if you have a very good wireless connection, or better, you can connect at least one of the two devices in the chain to your router via Ethernet.

If you have a TV using Android TV or a Nvidia Shield TV media streamer, you can even simply use the Steam Link app instead of the Steam Link box.

Steam Link is specially designed for gaming, so you will not be able to do much public media streaming or screening with it. Because it depends on Steam's great image mode for an interface, you can not actually access any content that is not directly available on Steam. It's not a solution if you just want to watch movies and TV shows (although some movies like John Wick are available on Steam and can be seen through Steam Link). You can work through the desktop of the computer by minimizing Big Picture mode via Steam Link, but it is a difficult, unreliable solution.

Advantages: Low latency for PC playback (with the physical box and a wired connection

Cons: Not suitable for streaming non-PC game content.

] Cable Cable: Wireless HDMI

 Wireless HDMI

If you are running a physical cable between your laptop and your TV is not realistic but you do not want to handle streaming software , you use a wireless HDMI Extender. Wireless HDMI Extender sends HDMI data wirelessly between a transmitter and receiver so you can easily connect your laptop to a nearby box with a short HDMI cable, and your TV to another nearby box with another nearby HDMI cable. With the connected extender devices that are connected and connected, they work just like an HDMI cable. Many have better range than HDMI cables alone and reach up to 100 meters, and because they are point-to-point, they will not be affected by traffic on your wireless network.

The wireless connection requires some compromises, but. First of all, most wireless 1080p HDMI Extenders make it possible to forget about streaming 4K HDR video instantly. Secondly, they tend to be expensive, ranging from about $ 130 to over $ 200. Thirdly, they tend to show significant video storage. It will not be a problem if you're just watching video but playing PC games can be very difficult.

Advantages: Same lightweight, direct connection as HDMI cables. Longer ranges without physically running cables. Do not trust your home network.

Cons: Usually does not support 4K. Too much team for game.

What solution is right for you?

All these methods are useful in different situations. I like the old-fashioned HDMI cable as the best short-range solution, but in a multi-room apartment, Steam Link can be one of the best ways to play PC games over your TV. Similarly, Google Cast and Plex are great streaming media options, while Miracast and wireless HDMI adapters are more functional if you specifically need to mirror your screen for your TV.

For more, check out the best cheap laptops and our favorite TVs for gaming.

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