How do I connect my laptop or tablet to my TV?
Want to watch Netflix shows and movies on the big screen? Here’s how to connect your device to your TV…
17 Nov 2016
We’re watching more TV and movies on our tablets and laptops thanks to the rise of streaming services like Netflix. However, no matter how sharp, the smaller screens don’t deliver the same cinematic experience as a big TV.
Did you know that you can watch all your favourite shows on your TV by pairing it with your device? There are a couple of ways you can connect; either wirelessly or with a cable linking the two. Here we show you how to get the best from your movies by playing your laptop or tablet through your telly.
Christmas is a busy time for many of us, and you might often find yourself hosting family parties or spending cold winter nights watching movies with the kids. It’s a big job to keep all these people entertained - and that’s where the Windows Wireless Display adapter comes in.
If you have a Windows laptop you can take full advantage of connecting your tablet, laptop or even phone to your TV – without fiddling about with different cables.
With the Windows Wireless Display Adapter you can stream movies from your device and mirror the video straight on to the TV – it’s a great shortcut to getting loads of online content if you haven’t bought a smart TV yet.
The Windows Wireless display adapter essentially acts as a wireless HDMI Cable, allowing you to enjoy a clear connection from your device up to 7m away. No more hiding the laptop screen with a cushion while its tethered to the TV.
The Windows wireless adapter also delivers a fast transfer of information between your device and your TV, minimising lag and giving you the smoothest connection possible.
Handling the party playlist is easy too; you can stream all of your favourite Spotify and YouTube playlists straight from your phone to your TV.
Connecting with cables
The cable you use to connect will depend on the video output socket on your laptop, so you’ll need to check this first. The main types are:
- HDMI – comes with most modern laptops and tablets. It works with an HDMI cable and can transfer audio as well as video to your TV
- DVI – another common socket. Needs a DVI-to-HDMI cable to connect, as well as a separate cable for sound
- VGA – if you have an older laptop, it might have a VGA port that connects via a VGA cable
- DisplayPort or Lightning Connector – mostly found on Macs, you’ll need an adapter to connect it to your TV
You can also plug an external hard drive with content from your laptop into your TV’s USB port. Or you can mirror what’s showing on your laptop or laptop’s screen to your TV – known as ‘casting’ – using a media streamer.
How to connect
Start by running an HDMI cable from your laptop or tablet to your TV’s HDMI port.
Set your TV to the correct video-input (normally HDMI display 2). Your computer should detect this and automatically adjust the display so that it’s the same resolution as it is on your TV. If not, you can do it manually from your TV menu, and set it to the right resolution (usually 1080p or 720p).
Tip: Some newer tablets – such as Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and 4 – which you might expect to have an HDMI output, have a mini DisplayPort instead. For these, you’ll need an adapter to connect your HDMI cable from the tablet to your TV.
DVI or VGA
Depending on the make and model of your TV, it will either have a DVI port – in which case you can connect using a DVI cable – or you’ll need to use an HDMI-to-DVI cable.
Tip: Some streaming services use HDCP content protection to stop DVI ports from working. In this case, you won’t be able to use it to watch TV.
If your laptop has a VGA output, run a VGA cable to your TV. As DVI and VGA connections don’t transfer audio, you’ll also need to run an extra cable from your laptop’s headphone socket to the TV or speakers. Again, this will depend on the make of your laptop and TV.
DisplayPort or Lightning Connector
You can use an adapter to connect a DisplayPort video-out socket on your laptop or tablet to your TV’s HDMI-input. Like an HDMI connection, DisplayPorts also carry audio.
Newer Apple tablets like the iPad Air and Mini have a different type of DisplayPort called a Lightning Connector, which requires a special adapter for using with your TV.
A lot of TVs now have a built-in USB port – so you can save content from your laptop to a USB stick and plug it straight into your TV to watch.
If you want to watch films or TV shows from catch-up services without having to plug your laptop into the TV, media streamers are a good option.
Plug the streamer into your TV’s HDMI port and use your Wi-Fi connection to play content from your laptop or tablet.