HOWTO: Connect Your PC to TV, Wirelessly!
Wouldn't it be great to beam whatever is on your computer screen directly to your big-screen TV? Now you can wirelessly send Netflix, Hulu, YouTube videos, photos and computer games from your PC screen directly to your television screen. Even browse the web on your fancy big-screen HDTV. Here's how to make a wireless PC to TV connection...
Making a Wireless PC to TV Connection
If you have a laptop or desktop computer with an average sized screen, you've probably thought "Wouldn't it be great if I could magically beam my computer screen to my nice big flat panel HDTV in the living room?"
Poof... you can! Some computers can connect directly to a television set with an HDMI cable, effectively turning your HDTV into a second monitor. But this is practical only over relatively short distances, and the cables can be messy and expensive. Computers that don't have HDMI outputs can make a wired connection to an HDTV by using a converter box such as the Manta VGA to HDMI with 1080p Scaler by Sewell.
But hey, we were trying to do this wirelessly. So enter the age of the wireless video sending device. By connecting a wireless video transmitter to your computer, and a wireless receiver to your television, the problem is neatly solved. So how does it work, and which device is best for wirelessly sending websites, YouTube videos, photos, games and other content from your computer screen to the TV?
Let's look at several wireless PC to TV devices to determine which is right for you. Some of them will even send what's on your smartphone or tablet to your living room television screen!
Wireless PC to TV Options
WiDi (also called WWi-Fi Direct) is a technology from Intel that lets you stream HD 1080p content wirelessly from a WiDi-enabled computer to an HDTV. If the HDTV also has the WiDi feature, no cables or extra software are needed. Other HDTVs can be used by adding a WiDi adapter such as the Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro ($69), or the HP's Wireless TV Connect Kit ($159).
You can stream videos, music, photos and games from PC to TV, in high definition with surround sound. WiDi has low latency, which minimizes screen lag for interactive applications like videos and games. If you have WiDi on both your computer and your HDTV, this is an excellent solution.
Chromecast is a new gadget from Google that lets you wirelessly beam content from a PC or (or an Android smartphone or tablet) to an HDTV set. Stream internet content such as Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, or Google Play Movies. You can beam web content via the Chrome browser, or use the screen mirroring capability to send whatever is on your PC screen to your HDTV. With a price tag of just $35, this has become a very popular device for bringing the small screen to the big screen.
Sewell Direct's Wireless PC to TV Converter connects to any PC, video game console or other VGA source with the included cable. The SW-28760 sends both audio and video signals to your TV from up to 150' away. Connect the receiver to your TV via video/audio cables. In addition, this unit can be utilized as a wired VGA to TV converter box with S-video, RGB and composite outputs. This unit is 480i VGA (not HD), so it's not recommended for text based applications such as email, unless you use a font of 14 points or larger. And although it'll send whatever is on your screen to your TV, the relatively low-res VGA signal may result in grainy videos. The Sewell Converter is very reasonably priced at $79.95.
The Veebeam HD wireless PC to TV link, priced at $99, promises that anything you see on your PC can be sent to your TV. Surf the web, or stream from Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube to your HDTV over a wireless link. Simply plug the USB antenna into your computer and "Veebeam it" to your TV in HD 1080p (high-def) video. The Veebeam is for in-room use, and cannot transmit through walls, making it best suited for laptops. Works with Windows Vista/Win7 and Mac OS X (10.5 or higher)
AItek's ProPC/TV Wireless Converter not only looks good, it does more than just conversion. Connect your laptop, desktop or Media Center PC to a TV up to 100 feet away, through walls, floors, ceilings and doors. With this device you can play a DVD, see what your kids are up to, display presentations and even send a greeting from your cubicle at work to the lobby, all from your PC. Add more receivers and send the media to multiple TVs. The ProPC/TV needs no software and has a price of $171.95, cables included.
Grandtec USA calls their converterUltimate Wireless. Use it for gaming, presentations or just browsing on your Mac or PC. With four channels, it has a range of 125 - 150', needs no software and has menu controls as well as zoom. Although the Ultimate's sending module has composite, S-video and RGB output, only composite video is available on the receiver. So you won't be getting HD quality video. But hey, you can always connect that composite output to a VCR or a video camera if you want to record what's happening on your computer screen. The Ultimate Wireless includes a battery pack for portable usage of the transmitter and has a price of $89.95.
Another option from Grandtec is the YFi2TV HD media streamer. This unit can connect to your PC (or your smartphone or tablet) over a wireless network, and stream music, photos and videos to your TV, in HD quality.
For completeness, I'll also mention the ROKU box, which I have previously reviewed. Priced from $59 to $99, it's a great solution for streaming HD quality movies from the Internet to your TV, using a wired or wireless connection. But it's not a general purpose "send your PC screen to your TV" device, either. ROKU connects to your Internet router, and pulls content from ROKU partners such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and a variety of free and paid TV channels.
Other devices such as the Netgear NeoTV, Sony NSZ, Vizio CoStar, WD TV Play, Panasonic DMP, and the D-Link Movie Night all offer similar streaming options. Some support online online content, while others can stream local content such as movies, music and photos stored on the hard drive. Like Roku, none of these offer full screen-mirroring capability.
If you're looking for the best device for a Mac, iPad or iPhone, get the Apple TV. If your Mac is newer than mid-2011, then you can use Apple TV using AirPlay mirroring. It should also work on all iPhones or iPads that can run iOS6 or higher. Apple TV has Hulu Plus and Netflix out of the box. If you use iTunes, then your entire library is supported.
All of the wireless PC to TV devices do pretty much the same thing -- sling content via wifi from your computer to your TV -- yet each has features that are unique. You may not need HD quality video, or the ability to stream wireless video 150 feet through walls. And of course, there's always the wired option for sending your PC screen to the TV. (See the first gadget mentioned near the top of this article.) Although the wires may be unsightly, you'll get better video quality, and eliminate the potential for interference from appliances and other signals floating around.
When choosing, check compatibility with your computer, operating system, and personal requirements. Look for actual customer reviews to how they perform in real-world situations. Have you used a wireless device to transmit from your PC screen to a TV? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 12 Dec 2013
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