Top Ways to Stream Movies to TV for watching

The convenience of streaming content online, when you want, wherever you want, has outpaced and leap-frogged conventional methods (DVDs, cable TV) in the last couple of years. Getting caught up with your favorite TV shows in bed on your iPad or smartphone has become easier than ever. But when it comes to your 40-inch LCD and cable box getting dusty in your living room, the possibilities are much more restricted without a dedicated wireless streaming device. 

There are countless streaming devices to chose from, so here are some pointers to make sure all your needs are met. Choosing the right streaming device should depend on your budget, watching habits and what gadgets you already own. Some smart TVs already come equipped with a wireless chip, cutting out the need for a streaming box, so we’re assuming you don’t have one of those.

1. Google Chromecast

One of the biggest mistakes to make about the Google Chromecast is to think that it’s targeted mostly towards Android users. Google has made sure its $35 HDMI-streaming dongle is supported by any device, including iOS devices and Macs. 
$20.00 at Groupon 

The Good

Videos can be streamed either directly from any Google Chrome tab you have open on either your Mac or PC. This means that VLC and its insane number of different video formats are technically supported. All you have to do is drag and drop the video into Google Chrome, hit the Cast button and off you go. The device is the cheapest option we have listed here, and because of its mere 35-buck price tag, could be seen as an impulse buy. It’s small, lightweight, and only takes up the space of one of the HDMI ports of your TV screen. App support is growing every day, which means that one day we won’t be limited to streaming content from a limited number of apps (as of now, YouTube and Google Chrome) on mobile devices. 

Is it really that simple?

Unfortunately, given the minimalist approach of the Google Chromecast, there are a number of factors that could limit your streaming experience. Most importantly, high bit rates of HD content could cause lag and choppy video as a result of your router’s limited transfer rate and weak Wi-Fi signals. 

The Verdict

If you would rather not have to deal with buffering playback problems, buying a high-end (and often quite expensive) media streaming router might be a better call. If you don’t want to limit yourself to lower resolution content thanks to your puny router, you might want to look elsewhere.

2. Apple TV

A lot of Apple users (and fanboys) have turned to the Apple TV to appease their wireless streaming needs. While it’s pretty solid in both hardware and software terms, it is far from being the perfect streaming set-top box. Still, it gets quite a bit closer than the other options we’ve seen so far.

$69.00 at Groupon 

The Good

You might already be familiar with AirPlay. It is in a way quite similar to how Google Chromecast works. Almost any media-playing app in the App Store will show a little AirPlay button near the play button, and, as long as you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV, you can choose it to stream your content wirelessly. The occasional hiccup aside, AirPlay works quite well for both audio and video. It turns your mobile device into a full-blown remote and allows you to stream from nearly every source. Apple also introduced AirPlay Mirroring, a feature that allows you to mirror whatever you’re seeing on your laptop or iOS device on your external TV screen. The machine itself is small and can fit in the palm of your hand, and requires minimal setup. It also supports playback of content purchased on iTunes.

The Bad

Sure, AirPlay sounds like a one-stop solution to streaming content from the comfort of your own home, but it’s Apple’s proprietary software that reveals the negative aspects of the Apple TV. Supported video formats are quite limited, and playing content outside of iTunes is quite tricky (jailbreak at your own risk!). While there are a couple of third-party apps on the Play Store, streaming audio (let alone video) from your Android to the Apple is near impossible. 

The Verdict

The hardware is there! It works flawlessly out of the box. It streams 1080p quite smoothly without asking too many questions. But as soon as you look beyond iTunes and audio streaming, things become a lot more complicated in a hurry. If you are a regular customer of the iTunes Store, and your apartment is decked out with the latest Apple gadgets, the Apple TV should be a no-brainer. Own an Android, and use a Windows machine at home? Keep looking.

3. Roku 3

Roku has made a lot of progress in its line of media streamers since 2008. The newest iteration, the Roku 3, streams 1080p video to your TV without batting an eyelash. It’s the most “all-rounder” device on our list and has the muscle to be the best — but unfortunately lacks the brain power.

$89.99 at Kohl’s 

The Good

The Roku 3 offers over 750 channels, from Netflix to HBO Go. That’s a lot of channels. Don’t let the number fool you. If you stream mostly from Netflix, when are you going to have the time to check out the other 749 channels? The hardware is beefy, and it’s a top player when it comes to performance. Streaming high-bit rate 1080p is a breeze. It supports a wide variety of video formats if you want to stream from your Mac or PC (using a li’l app called Plex). And it has a headphone jack built into the remote to keep your roommate from yanking out your headphones when he trips over the wire. 

The Bad

If you want to stream your own digital media collection, you might want to look elsewhere, considering the Roku needs the installation of third-party apps and additional set-up on the device you’re streaming from. Plus, the interface could use a cleaning-up, and some fresh design.

The Verdict

The Roku 3 is one of the best and most capable media streamers on the market. It streams pretty much anything from anywhere, considering you invest time in looking up additional apps and plug-ins. But if you’re already buried in the Apple ecosystem, the Roku 3 has little to offer over alternatives like the Apple TV.

4. Use Your Existing Gaming Console

Chances are, you’re already rockin’ an Xbox or PlayStation in your living room. With the right tools, a gaming console can stream media right to your TV. Netflix has become a very popular option on the PlayStation 3. All this requires is the installation of an application from the PlayStation Network. Another way is to install Playstation Media Server on your Mac or PC, and, as long as you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi home network, you can stream almost any file type from computer to PlayStation 3. 

The Good

Using the gaming console already kicking around in your living room means you don’t have to shell out extra cash for yet another box. You save money, space, and a trip to your nearest BestBuy.

The Bad

We found the streaming quality to be somewhat variable. The streaming options from your home computer can be quite unreliable at times, especially when your roommate is using up all your bandwidth. 

The Verdict

Great, looks like you may already have a media streaming device in your living room. It’s time to take advantage of it. Starting up Netflix or your favorite “Let’s Play” vids from YouTube can be done pretty easily, so where’s the problem? Outdated hardware, especially in the Wi-Fi card department, make it something of a lesser contender in an HD media world.

5. Boxee Box

The Boxee Box is a great option if you are out to stream your own collection of digital media. It features an iconic remote that has a full QWERTY keyboard built into its back. 

$267.65 at Amazon 

The Good

It supports numerous video formats for your own media and a bunch of different channels straight from the get go. And it supports Netflix, but why wouldn’t it? 

The Bad

Unfortunately, the advantages end there. Numerous customers report bugs in the software, overheating hardware — and let’s be real. Boxee Box doesn’t exactly roll off, the tongue now does it?

The Verdict

If you really are blown away by that amazing QWERTY keyboard on the back of the Boxee’s remote, you might want to think about getting yourself a smartphone instead.

6. WD TV Live Streaming Media Player

Western Digital is known for its budget hard drives and for the most part, their hardware is reliable and well built. The WD TV Live is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and the usual slew of streaming channels. 

$129.99 at 

The Good

You’re able to stream from pretty much any external device. What sets apart the WD TV Live in this respect is that you can stream straight from network drives, or any other computers on your home network. It has the obligatory smartphone remote app, and supports a respectable array of video formats. 

The Bad

If you subscribe to Amazon Instant, you might want to look elsewhere. If you want a local hard drive to take care of storing your digital media collection, you would theoretically have to buy another dedicated hard drive. Users also report that the local file system takes some time to get used to.

The Verdict

Western Digital has proven that it’s more than capable of manufacturing a reliable set-top box. It supports a wide variety of video formats, but if you subscribe to Amazon Instant, or want full convenience and simplicity when it comes to software, keep looking.

7. Just Connect Your Laptop Via HDMI, Already

Let’s face it. Sometimes just plugging in your laptop via your TV’s HDMI out is the fastest and easiest solution. MacBook users should look into a Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter, which can be bought on Amazon for peanuts (if you trust the generic version). 

$6.57 at Amazon 

The Good

There are no hiccups, no lags and endless possibilities. You can play your local files on VLC, and HDMI can also take care of the audio side for you, which means that sound will be transferred automatically to your TV speakers or speaker system.

The Bad

This option is obviously not wireless, and requires you to lug your laptop back and forth to hook it up to your TV — unless you have a separate computer stashed away in your TV cabinet. And make sure your roommate doesn’t trip over that HDMI cable!

The Verdict

If streaming media wirelessly via a set-top box surpasses your needs, just grab yourself an HDMI cable (and adapter, if needed) and make use of your large-screen TV without having pay for yet another device in your living room.

Recommend Product – Solve Can’t stream movies to TV

Sometimes not all movies can be streamed to TV well due to the format compatibility problems. For example, MP4/AVI/MKV etc are complicated formats with different codecs, DVD and Blu-ray are not so convenient. So in order to make you stream movies to TV with above ways without any problems, you can use iFastime Video Converter Ultimate (Mac) to help you convert movies to TV more friendly formats and Apple TVRoKu etc supported formats for nice streaming and watching. This friendly tool has solved many similar issues: 

Hot search: play MP4/MKV/AVI/MOV on Samsung TVplay MP4 on Sony TVplay YouTube video on LG TVISO to Panasonic TV


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