by Dan Blacharski, Demand Media
Gone are the days when your TV was used just for watching TV. These entertainment powerhouses are now equipped with Wi-Fi and other wireless streaming technologies that make it possible to play games, jam to your favorite tunes, showcase your photos and otherwise bring the world of Web-enabled entertainment to your living room.
While your gaming console and media receiver can certainly facilitate streaming of your favorite content, advances in mobile technology make it possible to integrate your smartphone or tablet and share its media files as well. Music, movies and shared social-media experiences make for popular choices, but in some cases, you may want to simply flick through an album of digital photos without having to pass around the hand-held device.
All of these options are possible, and in most cases, you’ll need no additional equipment to make yours a truly connected home. But how do you get started? Furthermore, once the connection is established, how do you make everything work smoothly?
Sharp’s SmartCentral™ 3.0 mobile app is a great option. This tool connects to the SmartCentral platform on your Sharp LCD TV, making it possible to share videos, music and photos from your handheld, essentially turning your smartphone or tablet into a second remote control. Virtually everything you can do on your TV can be done from the touchscreen of your mobile device -- including taking control of the TV’s app functionality. Further, the SmartCentral™ 3.0 mobile app is compatible with a number of 2014 television models. There are also many other applications you can use to share content so do your research.
If you have a new generation smart phone it most likely has technology equipped in the phone to stream content to your TV. When bridging a seamless connection between your mobile device and the TV make sure both machines are established on the same Wi-Fi network.
If you are an Android user, you can connect your smart phone with your Sharp LCD TV using Miracast, a wireless screencasting system that allows you to mirror your phone's screen on your high definition, smart Sharp television. Simply turn on the wireless option on your Smart TV (or if your television does not come with Miracast built-in, buy a Miracast dongle and then turn on the wireless option) and connect it with your Android's “wireless display” feature.
“Consumers are increasingly using tablets and smartphones as a part of their TV entertainment experience,” notes a 2013 report from Parks Associates. This includes "using their mobile devices to find content before playing the discovered content on their device or on a larger screen." As a result, content providers and pay-TV services are trying to use this behavior to their advantage by providing the same services for smaller screens -- also known as second-screen services -- "potentially increasing the use of smartphones and tablets for in-home entertainment.”
Tablets, especially, are replacing the computer for streaming content through your connected set, although plenty of users are still playing media files through other means.
An HDMI cord, for example, achieves a high-quality transfer of media files and can even be used to mirror the handheld device’s screen on the TV. The downside? You’re stuck tethered to the television in order to control media streaming. In addition, many mobile devices sport smaller, mini HDMI ports, while other models may lack HDMI support altogether, so there’s a chance you’ll need to purchase a special adapter to facilitate playback.
The USB or SD ports on the side of the TV are another popular choice, and you can pop the memory card out of your mobile device or plug in a freshly-loaded flash drive to access your media files. However, you’ll first need to spend some time transferring content from your computer or smartphone to the memory card. Further, you’re limited to the memory card’s available storage capacity.
The wireless technology built into your Smart TV takes the hassle and the cable out of what was once exclusively performed via wired connection. It also gives you access to a variety of web files of unlimited size and quality. Before long, you’ll start thinking of your home entertainment system as your own “personal cloud” of on-demand content storage and streaming.
Below are some tips to help get you started:
Tip #1: You can never have too much bandwidth.
Significant content sharing is going to require serious bandwidth. Make sure to eliminate potential frustrations by verifying that your network will adequately support all that free-range connectivity. Generally speaking, a bandwidth of 10 Mbps will stream a high-definition video without stalling or excessive buffering. Experts recommend about twice that for ultra high-definition streaming -- even more if you’re sharing the network with other Internet users at the same time.
Tip #2: Ditch the old router.
An aging router can make your home’s Wi-Fi network sluggish and, in turn, affect your streaming functionality. If your router is more than three years old, chances are good it’s compromising your bandwidth -- even if you’re paying your Internet service provider for a faster connection.
Tip #3: Formats, files and folders.
Don’t forget these 3Fs, because much of the magic of content streaming is in the file-sharing settings and formats. Your Smart TV will have trouble “seeing” a movie if it is not in a system-compatible file format, so be sure you’re aware of what types; for example, MP4, AVI and MKV are supported. Also, ensure your media is located in the proper system folder so it’s easily accessible by the mobile app.
Tip #4: Take your time during setup.
Be sure to follow the prompts carefully while setting up Sharp’s SmartCentral™ 3.0 mobile app. A missed step in the initial configuration may result in the failure to connect with your Sharp Smart TV.
References & Resources
About the Author
I am editor-in-chief of Techie.com, a destination web presence for emerging technology and disruptive trends. A "dotcom boom" veteran, I am at the forefront of what I've termed the "dot cloud boom," the next wave of innovation that is driven by new cloud enabling tech. I have written several books, including "Cloud computing made easy", and have written several articles for prominent trade journals as well as on techie.com.