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To connect your laptop to your TV

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

If you're like me, watch a lot of movies and TV shows on your computer. It's still the ultimate media engine that lets you play any file format and output it to any device with the right cables. It is also the ultimate video game system capable of playing the largest available library of games with most controllers. There is only one catch: Most monitors (and all laptop displays) are smaller than the average TV. So why not just connect your laptop to your TV and watch or play it all on a larger screen?

You can and there are several ways to do this. However, not every method is suitable for every situation. Depending on where your TV is, where your computer is, how your home is set up, and what media you want to use, you'll need to think carefully about how to connect your laptop to your TV.

Here are your options and the pros and cons of each model.

HDMI: Connecting with a Cable


This is the most direct and reliable way to connect your laptop to your TV. It is also most limited by your house layout. It's a simple solution: Connect your computer and TV to a physical HDMI cable for the best performance and reliability. A wired connection means the best picture quality and lowest input delay and is not affected by the environment of the wireless network in your home. It's what I use in my apartment, and I can use it to play PC games on my TV. Due to the low delay of a wired connection, this is one of the few acceptable ways to play PC games on your TV (although Steam Link has proven to be very useful in this regard, especially if you can connect to your network via Ethernet.). It also supports 4K resolution if your laptop can handle it at all.

Of course, my flat is a studio, so it's easy. Keeping your computer in a separate room does not make cable routing the most convenient or realistic solution. If you are not interested in a little construction, you can build wires between the rooms and leave a cable in the wall to avoid clutter. However, this is not possible for everyone (especially for tenants). There is also the significant limitation of the range. It is best to use a 50 foot HDMI cable before losing signal quality. More realistically, you can see some hiccups in the picture if you cross 25 feet. There are HDMI amplifiers that can extend the range of your cables, but this increases the cost and effort of the setup.

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

Disadvantages: Physical wires can be a painful run between rooms or over long distances. Limited range without additional signal amplification equipment.

Chrome-Friendly Streaming: Chromecast and Google Cast

 Google Chromecast

If you mainly want to send streaming movies and TV shows from your laptop to your TV Google Chromecast is an easy way to do this wirelessly. Just connect it to the back of your TV and connect it to your network. You can transfer any Chrome tab from your notebook to it with one click. That means Netflix, Hulu and almost all other major streaming services. This also includes any YouTube video, animated GIF images, interesting web pages or other content that you can load into Chrome.

Unless it's compelling enough, it's cheap for a physical device, the $ 1080p Chromecast is available for $ 35, and the 4K-enabled Chromecast Ultra is $ 69. If you have a TV that uses Android TV as a connected platform, you can take advantage of the built-in Chromecast without buying anything extra.

Chromecast is very functional for computers, but more likely for mobile devices that support Google Cast. If you have an Android phone or Chromebook, you can stream the device's full screen directly to a Chromecast without opening a Chrome tab. A variety of streaming apps also provide Google Cast support so you can stream media from these apps to the Chromecast and use your phone as a remote control. The PC control is a bit more limited and focuses mainly on the Chrome web browser as a frontend.

Pros: Inexpensive. Streams video or web browser tabs. Chromecast Ultra and some Android TV devices support 4K.

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

Wireless Windows Standard: Miracast [194559002]  Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

Intel's wireless WiDi display technology has been discontinued, but Miracast continues the torch natively supported in both Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. Just click the notification button in the taskbar, expand the buttons in the menu that appears, and click Connect. You can mirror your screen directly to any Miracast-compatible device in your network. These include many smart TVs and media streamers. You can also get a dedicated Miracast receiver and connect it to your TV (Microsoft makes an official $ 50 receiver, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, which works almost certainly on your modern Windows PC). When your PC is connected, the screen will be displayed on the Miracast-compatible screen streaming mode or the Miracast receiver on your TV.

This is a less expensive solution than using a wireless HDMI extender and Your TV's intelligent platform may already be in use. Like the extender, the video resolution typically reaches a resolution of 1080p. If you have a higher-resolution monitor, the screen is likely to be downsized when transferred to the TV or adapter. Like most wireless solutions, there may be delays in viewing that affect playing games over it.

Pros: Natively supported by Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 and some Smart TV platform operators. Receivers are relatively cheap.

Disadvantages: Does not normally support 4K. Too long delay for games.

Large Laptop Libraries: Plex


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

All popular media streamers support Plex as well as many Smart TV platforms. It can even be streamed to your phone, tablet, or other compatible device outside your home while your computer is turned on and connected to the Internet. Plex is available for free, but for advanced features like live TV and DVR, you'll need to purchase the Premium Plex Pass for $ 4.99 a month, $ 39.99 a year, or $ 119.99 for a lifetime subscription.

Plex is very functional for media playback and streaming, even in free form. However, it does not support any screen reflection. Everything streamed to the Plex app on your TV or streaming media must be registered through the server software. That means no games. It is also tops at 1080p and therefore can not stream 4K.

Pros: Robust media format and service support. Accessible outside the house. Free, with optional premium subscription for advanced features.

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

For Games only: Steam Link [194559002]  Steam Link

Valve has released the Steam Link several years ago, and while this was not the case, not many waves are making We were impressed with the performance. It is a media streamer designed specifically for PC games. You connect it to your TV, pair it with a controller, and you can use it to play games on your computer. Your PC handles all of the graphical processing, and Steam Link manages the audio / video and input data. It's surprising that you have a very good wireless connection or you can connect at least one of the two devices in the chain to your router via Ethernet.

If you have a TV that uses Android TV or on Nvidia Shield TV Media Streamer, you can even use the Steam Link app instead of the Steam Link box.

Steam Link was designed specifically for games so you can not do much media streaming or screen mirroring with it. Since the interface relies on Steam's Big Picture mode, you can not actually access content that is not directly available on Steam. It is not a solution if you only want to watch movies and TV shows (although some movies, such as John Wick are available on Steam and can be viewed through Steam Link). You can work on the desktop of your PC by minimizing the Big Picture mode via Steam Link. However, this is an impractical and unreliable solution.

Pros: Low latency for PC games (with the physical box and a cable connection)

Disadvantages: Not suitable for streaming non-PC gaming content.

Cordless Cables: HDMI Wireless Cables

 HDMI Wireless Cables

If a physical cable between your laptop and your TV is not realistic, you will not be streaming Software, use a wireless HDMI extender. Wireless HDMI extensions send HDMI data wirelessly between a transmitter and a receiver. So you can simply connect your laptop to a nearby small box with a short HDMI cable and connect your TV to another nearby small box with another nearby HDMI cable. When the paired extender devices are powered and connected, they work like an HDMI cable. Many have a better range than just HDMI cables with a range of up to 100 meters, and because they have point-to-point connections, they will not be affected by traffic on your home wireless network.

However, the wireless connection requires some compromises. First, most wireless HDMI extenders are equipped with 1080p, so you can directly forget streaming 4K HDR video. Second, they tend to be expensive and run from around $ 130 to over $ 200. Third, they tend to have significant video storage. It's no problem if you only watch video but playing PC games feels very awkward.

Pros: Same simple, direct connection as HDMI cable. Greater range without physically routed cables. Does not rely on your home network.

Disadvantages: Does not normally support 4K. Too long delay for games.

Which 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, the Steam Link could be one of the best ways to play PC games on your TV. Likewise, Google Cast and Plex are excellent options for streaming media, while Miracast and wireless HDMI adapters are more functional if you want to mirror your screen specifically to your TV.

Learn more about the best laptops and our favorite TVs for games.

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