Sometimes even a 10-inch screen is just too small. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to connect your iPhone or iPad to any recent HDTV for a bigger-screen media experience. Here’s our guide, from the simplest to the most complex solutions.
Connect With a Cable
By far, the simplest way to connect your iPhone or iPad to your TV is to use Apple’s Digital AV Adapter, which is a cable that plugs your Apple device to your TV’s HDMI port. You’ll also need a standard HDMI cable—any one will do, so just buy the least expensive one you can find.
Connect your iPhone or iPad and TV with the cable, and switch the TV’s input to the port the cable is plugged into. Your TV will become a duplicate of the connected device’s screen. With the iPad 2 or later and iPhone 4s or later, you’ll get that in 1080p HD.
Now you can play your iTunes videos, Netflix movies, or whatever else you want on your TV.
Connect With Apple TV
Maybe you don’t want a pesky wire between your iPhone and your TV. The easiest way to connect wirelessly is with Apple’s own media extender, Apple TV.
Once your Apple TV is set up, make sure it’s connected to the same home Wi-Fi network as your iPhone or iPad. Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone or iPad’s screen to find the AirPlay option. Tap on it, then select your Apple TV. Your Apple TV will start streaming whatever’s on your device’s screen.
One warning: In very crowded Wi-Fi environments, AirPlay video might break up or stutter. In that case, you’ll need to use a cable.
Connect With a DLNA App
If you have a recent Internet-enabled HDTV, it probably supports DLNA, a generic form of media streaming available on many different manufacturers’ products. You can stream unprotected music and video files (in other words, files stored in iTunes other than music and videos from the iTunes Store) using the third-party app ArkMC, available from the App Store for $4.99.
Connect your iPhone or iPad and your HDTV to the same home network. Open the ArkMC app on your device. Tap the “Arkuda DMS” option, then choose music, photos, or videos. On the Select Media Renderer screen, choose your TV.
If your TV doesn’t show up on the list, you may need to activate its DLNA function. Go to the TV’s Internet connection menu and look for an option to stream from a PC or home server. That’s DLNA. The Arkuda DMS folder may show up on your TV’s screen at that point, and you can navigate to a file and play it.
Connect With an Android TV Stick
There are more arcane, hackerish ways to connect your iPhone or iPad to your TV. For instance, you can get an Android powered TV stick, plug it into the back of your TV, install the Kodi media server app (formerly known as XBMC), and the stick will be able to play unprotected music and video from the built-in apps on your device by using the AirPlay button. It won’t support screen mirroring or protected video streaming.
In my experience, though, this approach is typically a nightmare. The sticks are slow, buggy, and unreliable, and Kodi support tends to break.
While we haven’t reviewed Android TV sticks. I suggest you look at this roundup from Laptop Mag if you want to go this route. Here’s a hint about what a pain they are: The review of the highest-rated product includes the phrase, “Once we downloaded an updated version of the device’s official firmware from geekbuying.com and flashed the MK808B.”
While this is definitely a way to save money over an Apple TV (and the stick can run any Android app on your TV, which is cool), what’s your time worth? Probably more than the $50 difference.