Your TV may be ‘smart’ and come with fancy features but it probably can’t do everything that your PC can do. Here’s how to stream from PC to TV.
One example of why you might want to do this is when your TV doesn’t offer the catch-up service you want to use. Or, you might want to show holiday photos on the big screen but they’re stored on your laptop’s hard drive. You might even want to play PC games on your TV, but you don’t want a big, noisy PC there in the room.
There are several ways to connect your PC to your TV, but the best will depend on whether you need to play HD video or games.
How to stream from PC to TV using a cable
If you don’t mind having your laptop or PC right there next to your TV, the easiest option is to connect the two together with a cable. Most modern TVs and PCs will come with an HDMI port and chances are you have an HDMI cable lying around ready to go. We already have a comprehensive guide on how to connect a laptop (or PC) to a TV.
How to stream from PC to TV wirelessly
If you’d prefer to ditch the wire, another way to stream content from a PC is with a Google Chromecast. This small gadget costs £30 but you can usually find it cheaper if you search online. Make sure you read our Chromecast review before you buy.
The Chromecast can plug directly into an HDMI port, but it needs power either from the mains or a USB port on your TV. See how to setup and use a Google Chromecast in the UK for more.
Once set up, you can stream or ‘cast’ content from devices in your home. The Chromecast works with various iOS and Android apps but you can stream almost anything you want from your PC using the Chrome web browser. See also: What can you watch on Google Chromecast in UK?
Make sure your PC is connected to the same network as the Chromecast otherwise this won’t work. Now open the Google Chrome browser (28 or higher) and install the Google Cast Extension. Now click the Google Cast button in the top right (a rectangle with a Wi-Fi type logo in the corner).
Select your Chromecast from the pop-out box and your TV will now display anything which is shown in your Chrome browser. Select ‘cast this tab’ to select which Chrome tab you want to stream to the TV. If you want to stream a locally stored video, simply drag and drop it into Chrome.
“The significant majority of web content can be cast. However, sites that use plug-ins such as Silverlight, Quicktime & VLC are not supported, and may result in a lack of picture or sound,” warns Google.
How to stream from PC to TV to play games
Streaming games is the toughest challenge as you need not only high-resolution, high-framerate video, but also very little lag. It’s no use cracking the first problem only to have the video arrive with a time delay: you’ll quickly lose at any multiplayer game.
One solution is NZXT’s brand new Doko. It’s a £99 box which uses a wired network connection (via your router) to stream your PC’s desktop to your TV. You plug in your keyboard, mouse and game controller to the Doko and install a piece of software on your PC. See our full Doko review for more.