Connecting Your Computer to Your TV the Right Way

Connecting your computer to your TV can have a lot of advantages. Your TV is likely to be much bigger, and perhaps have a better resolution than your computer monitor. There are also times when you want to have multiple screens, and a TV screen can make a great second (or even third) monitor in a pinch. However, for most people, connecting a computer to a TV is simply a matter of wanting to watch video files on the big screen. It is a good quick fix if your TV is not Internet ready, or if the video you wish to watch is on your computer hard drive. Here are some simple ways to get the connection right.

Today, wirelessly connecting your computer or laptop to your TV is the way to go. With any laptop, you should be able to stream to your TV. If you use Google Chromecast or Apple TV, it is simple to connect your computer, or even a mobile device, to your TV for video streaming. Google Chromecast is by far the more affordable option (not really a surprise). Once the Chromecast is connected to your TV and enabled, you should see an icon on your device. All you have to do is click on that icon to get started. Apple TV is specifically for Apple products, so if you have a Mac, an iPad, or an iPhone, this will be your wireless option. Once the Apple TV is connected to your wireless network, you should see a menu option or an icon on all of your Apple devices. Check the menu.

If you prefer to use wires, and you will have to if you do not have one of the devices above, your best option is an HDMI cable. Most TVs come with several HDMI ports, so you probably have a free one. If not, you could disconnect a video game system temporarily. Most PCs and laptops have an HDMI port. The trick is just getting the computer close enough to the TV to plug it in. HDMI is simple because the one cable transfers both audio and video. Your PC will simply recognize the TV as your new monitor. A laptop should automatically connect as well. The TV will either become an extension of the desktop, or your computer screen will be mirrored depending on the option you have selected. You can right click on your desktop background to change the options. Alternatively, you can use a DVI cable for video, but you will have to use a separate connection for audio, so HDMI is far easier. Either way, streaming to your TV from a laptop or other computer will be easy.

4K Screens Become Affordable

The First Affordable 4K Screens

For the first time in history, 4K TVs are available for under $4000. Vizio and Polaroid are the responsible manufacturers for these new screens, which may see more homes than ever watching higher-quality television.

Until recently, the demand for 4K TVs has been limited. There are two main reasons for this. First, the devices simply haven’t been affordable to the average consumer. Second, there hasn’t been much available content with that kind of resolution. Currently, the primary consumer base for this type of TV uses the screens as ultra-high-def monitors for their powerful computers.

The resolution on a 4K screen is 3840 by 2160 pixels. This is twice the resolution of a 1080p HD screen (with the focus switching from the number of vertical pixels to a rounded-up number of horizontal pixels). 4K TVs always have an aspect ratio of 16:9 or better, and an HDMI 2.0 cable is necessary in order to maintain the standard 120 Hz refresh rate.

At the present time, bandwidth is a major issue in the way of companies providing 4K content—especially since HD content upgrades were already a big financial blow to many providers. As far as using discs to produce 4K images, modern Blu-Ray players are incapable of handling the bandwidth.

This is why—for now, at least—a 50-inch 4K TV is basically an enormous computer monitor. Writers, for example, can have multiple windows open at once for research and typing. Day traders can view trading software and make trades using multiple windows on the same screen. Basically, the resolution allows users to simulate multiple monitors with a single screen. For gamers, graphics card issues arise. To render 4K graphics at 30 or 60 Hz, expect to spend $500 to $1000 extra for a more powerful graphics card.

TV Streaming Devices Square Off

Do you want to stream TV via the Internet? There are a number of devices that you can procure for this purpose. Many of them are multitasking devices such as video game consoles. Google and Apple, however, have both created dedicated devices. Let’s take a look at the Chromecast from Google and see how it compares to Apple TV.

The first thing you are going to notice is a difference in price. Chromecast is a steal at $35. Of course, that makes some buyers wary, so let’s look at the features. You might decide to shell out a hundred dollars on Apple TV instead.

Going by size, Chromecast has the clear advantage over the hockey puck sized Apple TV. Chromecast resembles a flash drive. Location is important too. You’ll need a place to set down your Apple TV device. The Chromecast just plugs in the HDMI port. It also only weighs about an eighth of what the Apple TV device does, but since you only have to carry it to the register (or from the mailbox) then you probably don’t care a whole lot about weight.

Did we mention that the Chromecast plugs directly into your HDMI port? If you pick up an Apple TV device, don’t forget to purchase an HDMI cable to go with it since there isn’t one included.

Both devices are full HD. Both also give you access to your own content. Apple TV uses your mobile devices, while Google’s device relies on capturing what you have in the cloud. Both have single core processors and half a GB of RAM.

This is where the balance starts to shift. Apple TV has four times the storage of the Chromecast with eight GBs total. Since the Chromecast just launched, Apple sports way more channels, but it’s only a matter of time until Google catches up. Also, only Apple lets you mirror your mobile devices.

Right now, Apple is clinging tenaciously to the advantage in channels, so unless you are primarily wanting a device for Netflix, YouTube and Google Play, you may need to consider spending the extra money on Apple TV.


The Status of TV Tech: Smart TV

Our generation has had the privilege to witness life-changing technologies develop almost from scratch.

If you’re in your twenties or older, you probably remember a time when your television set had a robust shape and size and the number of channels you could watch were limited. The advancement of technology has completely revolutionized the experience of watching television. (more…)

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