We've all been there, lounging on the couch with our phone or tablet and wishing we could stream videos from the internal storage, Netflix, YouTube and so on to the largest screen in the house right in front of us. It is not a seamless task, as there are no universal standards yet, both for doing it with a cable or wirelessly, but there are some accessories out there that make it possible.
Wireless streaming is, of course, preferable for our lazy ways, but we don't mind the occasional cable snake if the mobile device can be hooked that way for cheap, or if the wireless sees too many interruptions, as is often the case.
There are DLNA streaming boxes for the wireless part, in case you don't have a DLNA-capable TV, and adapters for almost any kind of port for the wired way, so check out a few of them in our slideshow below to know what you are in for when considering a TV hookup on the cheap.
5 accessories to connect a smartphone or tablet to your TV
1. LG ST600 Smart TV Upgrader ($50)
The LG ST600 Smart TV Upgrader connects to the HDMI port on your TV, recognizes DLNA-capable phones or tablets, which are a lot these days, and allows you to stream their content directly to the big screen TV, including MKV and DivX files, no cable hassles needed.
It also offers web browsing, some LG apps, and streams Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Vudu, Cinema Now, MLB, MOG, Napster, Pandora, NHL, YouTube plus some more with the latest firmware upgrade.
The best part is that unlike HTC's Media Link offerings, it seems to work with any streaming device, and is just around $50 to boot. LG said it will issue a new version this year, with this one being discontinued, so we'll keep our eyes peeled for the improvements, and enjoy the low price in the meantime.
2. Apple TV ($99)
Apple TV's "hockey puck" needs no introduction as this is the way of choice for iPhone and iPad owners to stream content to their TVs. This year's edition supports 1080p content, so all is fine and dandy. If you are already invested in the Apple ecosystem, you can't beat using AirPlay for $99 with Apple TV.
3. Apple Digital AV Adapter ($40)
If you can live without the random errors and interruptions of wireless streaming that very often occur, the good ol' cable connection via HDMI is the way to go.
Apple's own Digital AV Adapter is the missing link between your iPhone or iPad, and the HDMI cable that leads to your TV. It supports 1080p and, unlike the cheaper $20 alternatives, allows you to charge and sync the device as well, which might be important during a presentation.
4. Samsung MHL to HDMI adapter ($10)
If your phone has the combined MHL port that has both microUSB and HDMI in the same place, as most Samsung and HTC phones of late do, you'll need one of these adapters for hooking it up to the HDMI cable that leads to your TV and mirror the phone's screen.
Granted, it still requires the cable snake, but you can't beat hooking up your Galaxy S II or S III, HTC One X or One S, etc., to the largest screen in the house for 10 bucks. Of course, if your phone has an HDMI port, like a lot of Sony and LG handsets, you can just buy a cheapo microHDMI-to-HDMI cable for $5 and call it a day.
5. ViewHD Two Input HDMI to RGB Component YPbPr / VGA 2x1 Switch Converter Support 5.1CH Surround Sound ($80)
All these connections before require an HDMI port on your TV, but what if you don't have one? The ViewHD converter is on the pricey side, but it's one of your very few options that supports both 480p and 480i output for your old school TV set.
Touted by the manufacturer as "The World Most Powerful HDCP Deciphering Converter Ever, Supports Older None HDCP Compliant TVs", the ViewHD converter box also works with Apple TV 2, making streaming from your iOS device to your aging but trusty TV unit a possibility.