Being able to take pictures and record video with your phone is cool, but sharing them with your family and friends on your big-screen TV is awesome—and it’s never been easier to do. The latest generation of smartphones and tablets feature two technologies—High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard—that make it easy not only to send whatever you see on your phone to another display device but also to import images, video and music to your phone from other sources. (For more about watching movies and TV shows on your phone, check out “The Changing Face of Your Television: Mobility.”)
Welcome to the HDMI wired connection
The HDMI interface allows you to stream unencrypted digital content from one device to another, and is now a standard feature on just about every television sold (many TVs have multiple HDMI inputs). A great example of how HDMI can turn your mobile device into a multimedia input for your TV is Mirror Mode, available on a variety of phones in the Verizon Wireless Droid lineup and even some tablets. Mirror Mode does precisely what its name implies—mirrors the display of your phone on the TV you’ve connected it to—and couldn’t be easier to use. Simply set your TV’s source to HDMI, plug an HDMI adapter cable into the TV and then into phone’s HDMI output, and you’ll immediately see your phone’s display on the big screen.
There are a couple of caveats regarding HDMI, however. First, don’t cheap out when buying your HDMI cable; many users have experienced audio and video difficulties thanks to dodgy connections due to lower-quality adapters. But do your research: Higher-priced doesn’t always mean better quality. Second, some newer phones feature a Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) output and require search for everything from laptops and printers to smartphones and tablets.
Check out the DLNA wireless connection
A growing number of smartphones now support the DLNA standard: They can wirelessly connect via Wi-Fi to any other DLNA-enabled device and use that connection to send—or receive—digital content. One easy-to-use DLNA app is SmartShare, featured on such phones as the Spectrum by LG and LG Revolution. Just start the SmartShare app, configure your phone’s setting for connections (you can have it automatically connect to any available DLNA-enabled device, for instance), choose the DLNA-enabled device you want to connect to, then send or receive music, pictures, or videos. And wirelessly stream YouTube videos to your TV or import images or music from your laptop to your phone. If you have an older flat-screen TV that isn’t DLNA-compatible, you can always use the HDMI connection to share content on a big display.
Want to shop for a device that supports the DLNA standard? Visit the Digital Living Network Alliance and search for everything from laptops and printers to smartphones and tablets.
One last word of advice. You might run into issues trying to play back content that employs Digital Rights Management (DRM): some content providers don’t allow it, and others require that the two connected devices employ the same DRM technology. Check with your content provider for details.
Are you a fan of the big screen? What kind of phone content do you like to watch on a large display?