With smart phones capable of doing pretty much everything these days, there might be one thing that you've overlooked: the ability to connect your Android to your TV. There are plenty of benefits to hooking up your phone and TV, and no real downsides. Wondering why you might want to make the connection? Want to know how exactly to go about it? Then you're in the right place!
Why Would I Want to Connect in the First Place?
Let's be honest, you don't have to connect your phone to your TV. It's not a necessity. However, most of us these days keep a whole lot of stuff on our phones, and that's stuff that you might want to share. Probably the biggest downside of viewing media on your smart phone is screen size. Though screen size on standard smart phones is growing, nothing beats watching that movie or home video on the big screen, right?
Connect up your phone to your TV and you can view your pictures, documents and spreadsheets, home movies, and even listen to your audio tracks, using the big screen and decent speakers of your television. More than that, you can use your phone's access to the internet to surf the web on a big screen. If you've got a Netflix account you can use your phone to access the video library, but watch your show or movie on the TV, you can view YouTube videos, or watch BBC iPlayer on the TV rather than on your computer. Connecting your phone to your TV is easily done, and is cheap enough that even if you use the connection only occasionally, it might still be worth it for you.
Why Would I NOT Want to Connect?
There aren't any real downsides to hooking up your phone to your TV. The cost is minimal, the effort involved is close to zero. However, there is one circumstance in which this probably isn't worth your time. If you have a smart TV that already has an internet connection then you probably won't get much real benefit out of connecting in your phone as well. That kind of depends on what you want to do (it's simpler to hook up your phone and view pics or home videos on the big screen rather than go through the hassle of downloading that media elsewhere then accessing it through your TV, for example), but for the most part your smart TV probably doesn't need a phone…
Option One: With Wires
You have two options for hooking up your Android and TV, wired and wireless. We'll deal with wired first. The benefits of having a wired connection are that this is a cheaper option, you should get a solid connection, and you don't need to rely on your home WiFi. If you tend to get frequent WiFi issues or struggle to get a signal on your phone, then wired is going to be the option for you. If you enjoy serious HD video watching, then wired is also probably going to be your best bet (since it tends to move data faster meaning you don't get buffering). The downside is that not all phones will support a wired connection (the newer and more expensive your phone is, the less likely it is to support a wired connection).
There are two ways to make a wired connection between your phone and TV. The basic way is through an MHL (Mobile High Definition Link) cable. This cable has a mini USB on one end that plugs into your phone, and an HDMI plug at the opposite end that plugs into your TV. There are two kinds of MHL: active and passive. An active cable converts data from your phone so your TV can understand it, and because of this it needs a power source (so you'll need either to plug an additional cable into the wall or into the USB on your TV). A passive cable doesn't convert data and can only be used with an MHL ready TV (and again, the more modern and expensive your TV is, the less likely it is to support MHL).
The other wired option is called SlimPort, and this requires that you buy a regular HDMI cable as well. Plug the HDMI cable into your TV, the other end into the SlimPort, then plug the SlimPort into your phone. You'll also need to plug the SlimPort into the wall (or possibly a USB slot on your TV) to give it power. SlimPort is supported by more TVs and more phones than MHL, though it still isn't supported by all of them. But it supports more data types (handy if you have lots of different file formats on your phone), and additionally it also charges your phone whilst it's plugged in (important because your phone screen will remain switched on as long as it's plugged into the SlimPort).
Option Two: Without Wires
If wired isn't for you, then there are also several wireless options. The good side of wireless is that any phone with a WiFi connection will support this, and all modern TVs will too. The downside is that you'll need a solid home WiFi system, with a good, strong signal. If you don't have great WiFi, then you're probably going to encounter some buffering or lagging.
Yes, there are many options, but there's really only one serious candidate here if you want to do the job cheaply, well, and dependably, and that's Google's ChromeCast. A ChromeCast will cost you around £30. Plug it in, plug it into your TV, download the free ChromeCast app onto your phone and open it, and follow the instructions. Set up takes less than ten minutes, you don't need tools or any additional hardware, and you don't need any technical know-how (you do need the WiFi password though…).
Connecting your phone to your TV is pretty cool, especially if you don't already have a smart TV and want to watch Netflix or iPlayer, or simply show off your photos to family and friends. And since it's cheap and easy, there's little reason not to do it!