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Stream photos, videos and music to your TV: these are the options

Streaming on TV
Streaming media on TV. This article decribed streaming photos, videos and music to your TV with different options such as Google car and Airplay.
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Everyone has a digital collection of photos, videos and music somewhere, sometimes spread across multiple devices and cloud services. After all, with a mobile device or (personal) cloud you always have your media at hand. But how can you quickly and easily conjure it wirelessly on the big screen of your TV? More and more TVs are now “smart”, so Streaming media on TV, i.e.,  your files is getting easier. In this article, we’ll cover the best ways to stream media to your TV. Do you want to know how to connect your mobile device to your TV? Then read our article with all options for connecting your smartphone or tablet to your TV .

Smart TVs and streaming options

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a TV that does not have a smart TV platform. Which platform runs on your TV is no longer so important in this case. The most common operating systems support all common media formats. With a wireless network connection and various streaming protocols, the TVs can play music, photos and videos from all devices on your home network. How that is easiest differs per television.

For example, TVs from Sony, Philips and Sharp, for example, use Google’s Android TV . Not only does this platform have many apps you know from your Android smartphone or tablet, but it also supports the popular streaming feature Google Cast. That basically means that the TV has a Chromecast built-in. More and more apps have an integrated Cast function, with which you can display the content of the app on your TV at the touch of a button.

Manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Panasonic choose their own operating system for televisions, but these have much the same streaming capabilities. Recently, for example, more and more TVs are getting support for Apple’s AirPlay (2) standard, so that owners of iPhones, iPads and Macs can easily stream their media to the TV. The now less popular Miracast is also built into many TVs.

Streaming media to your TV

The most common standards for sending media to your TV are DLNA and WiFi Direct. Both standards are supported by virtually all smart TVs and are also used in some form by mobile devices, computers and NAS solutions. They allow two devices to communicate with each other and display files from one device to another. DLNA was primarily developed as a protocol for file exchange between media players in the same network. Read more about streaming streaming services via DLNA .

WiFi Direct is really only meant to connect devices, and then uses other technologies like DLNA to find the media. It forms the basis for more extensive streaming standards such as Miracast, Google Cast and AirPlay. The more recent versions of bluetooth also use certain WiFi Direct functions, but bluetooth is of course mainly intended for audio.

Streaming media on TV: Miracast

This standard is not so much intended to show certain files, but copies the entire screen of your other device on the screen of your TV. Then you can easily access the apps for photos, videos and music on your mobile device or computer. Miracast is not always found under this name in the operating instructions or menus of your TV. For example, some manufacturers call it “Screen Mirroring” or something similar.

Streaming media on TV

The popularity of Miracast has declined slightly in the past few years. One reason for this can be that it works a bit more cumbersome than the alternatives from Apple and Google. In many cases, devices have to be paired manually and the possibility for this is sometimes hidden in the settings of a device.

It also sometimes differs in which way to pair. The most common ways to do this are NFC, bluetooth and WiFi Direct. It is still the most common way to stream media on devices that do not have built-in support for Google Cast or AirPlay. This includes, for example, older (smart) TVs and media players, Windows PCs and NAS systems. Read more about Miracast

Streaming media on TV: Google Cast

This streaming standard is perhaps the most widely used variant of all at the moment. Google Cast quickly gained popularity due to the convenient and inexpensive Chromecast HDMI sticks marketed by Google. Soon, TVs from different manufacturers appeared with the Cast function built-in. Google’s own Android TV platform also has this feature as standard.

Google Cast can in principle be used in the same way as Miracast, whereby the entire screen of an Android phone or tablet is transferred to the TV. However, it is also possible to do that per app. Google’s own apps like YouTube and Photos have a Cast button, but third parties such as Netflix and Spotify have also put the feature in their apps. You can also use Cast in the browser. The native Chrome browser is of course supported, but the new version of Microsoft Edge can do it too. Read more about Google Cast .

Streaming media on TV: Apple AirPlay

As befits Apple, this feature was only available on the company’s products for years. The feature was originally called AirTunes and was intended to play content from the iTunes library on other devices. AirPlay is now being rolled out step-by-step to TVs, media players and speakers from other manufacturers.

AirPlay is the only way to wirelessly pair Apple devices with your TV out of the box. With services such as Apple Music and Apple TV +, the function is of course built-in, but except for a few iOS versions of popular apps, it is not yet found in the range of third parties. Netflix even tore down support for AirPlay from all of its apps last year. Apple does not allow metadata such as usage data to be sent to third parties via AirPlay, and is making that metadata important to companies like Netflix.

You can stream audio and video via AirPlay to your television or to speakers that support AirPlay. You can even stream to a separate speaker slightly differently than to the television. If you own Apple TV 4K, it is possible to stream 4K HDR video quality to your television. Please note that copyrighted video material cannot simply be streamed to a display via AirPlay. Read more about AirPlay 2 .

Bluetooth

Of course, bluetooth should not be missing from this list, despite the fact that it is a protocol with which only audio can be sent. Almost all televisions and speakers today have Bluetooth, so you can easily connect your smartphone or tablet and stream music to the screen or speaker.

What if you don’t have a smart TV?

There are of course enough people who don’t necessarily want the latest of the latest, and who have a TV without a smart TV platform or networking capabilities. There are more than enough options for those who want to make their old, trusted device smart. The simplest solution is to insert an HDMI stick into the TV. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the Google Chromecast is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of ease of use.

You can also choose a box with a fully smart tv platform. That could be an Android TV box, for example. They come in different price categories, but with the cheap versions, you should pay attention to whether the device really runs Android TV, or whether it is a version of Android adapted by the manufacturer. The Android TV media player with the most extensive capabilities is Nvidia’s Shield TV . Fans of Apple devices will sooner choose a recent version of the Apple TV .

Of course you can also just use a USB stick with your media on it in the TV stabbing. With a handful of exceptions, any TV released in the last 15 years can handle the most common media formats. Your mobile device or laptop can also be wired to your TV with an HDMI cable or USB cable. You can read more about this in our article about connecting your smartphone or tablet to your TV.

Support file formats

As mentioned, modern TVs have the ability to play the most common file formats. . If you want to be absolutely sure that a TV supports a certain format, there is no other solution than to look up the specifications of the TV. The file formats listed below are supported by almost all modern TVs.

Photos Videos Music
JPG / JPEG MP4 MP3
BMP AAC
] MPO (3D photos) DIVX FLAC
VOB WMA
AVI M4A
WMV WAV
M4V
HEVC

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In this article, the most common options for streaming media from your devices are discussed. It is always wise to find out whether a TV that you own or want to buy has the options you are looking for. That can be very tricky at times, especially since manufacturers like to use their own marketing terms for certain positions. In addition, these functions are sometimes even limited in possibilities. In general, more and more TVs have all the usual streaming options. If you store media files in the cloud, you usually don’t even need an external device.