Cat videos are even finer on a full-sized TV screen

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MEDIA PLAYERS: size of a cigarette pack Credit: Shutterstock

CALL me old-fashioned, but I’ve never seen the attraction of watching the latest blockbuster on a six-inch smartphone screen.

Hey, even just seeing the screen at this stage of my life is tough enough, never mind actually identifying Bruce Willis on it as he saves the world. Again.

With ‘content’ hurled at our multitude of devices these days, the trick is getting it onto something which won’t be an optician’s nightmare to watch. Enter the current buzzword: streaming.

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There are two basic flavours: either from the internet to your device, or from your device to another device. Let’s tackle the second of these.

How do you get your ‘content’ from, say, your computer, onto your TV screen?

Many new TVs can take USB drives or SD cards directly. If not, the good news is that it’s a doddle with just a cable – as long as your computer is modern enough to have an HDMI socket. Most laptops certainly do.

Plug an HDMI cable into your laptop and your TV, choose the input source on your TV (perhaps ‘HDMI 2’), choose the TV in your laptop’s Display settings, and Roberto’s your tio.

Another option is a dedicated mini-PC, some retailing for as little as €100 or so. Retailers are increasingly using these powerful little cubes for their in-store displays, and they’re perfect for streaming audio and video to anything from a computer monitor to a TV or sound system, in stunning quality.

A cheaper alternative to a computer is to buy a dedicated media player or streamer.

The best-known come from Roku, Google, Apple or Amazon, or a Kodi box. Their main party trick is streaming online content through your Wi-Fi, for a fee, from the likes of Netflix or Hulu. Most will also play content you already own.

My own favourite gadget for the job is the simplest add-on of all: a no-frills, cheap-and-cheerful media player like the dinky one shown here.

Available online for as little as €40, there are dozens of such players to choose from. Often barely the size of a cigarette packet (but happily without the health warning), most will handle virtually any current format you throw at them, either from a USB drive or SD card.

One final option is to ‘tether’ your smartphone by cable or wirelessly, directly to your TV, ‘mirroring’ its content onto the TV screen.

The bad news: for now this still only works with really, really, really high-end smartphones. Which can cost more than a whole new media-capable TV and never mind the popcorn.

 

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