Flatscreen televisions are constantly improving in quality and dropping in price, which means that they are increasingly more common in America’s living rooms. Too often, these large TV screens sit idle as we squint on our laptop computers. Fortunately, there are now several great options to wirelessly connect your laptop to your TV.
I’m a big television fan, but have recently been forced to cut down on the number of shows I watch every week. The television I do watch when I get the opportunity to grab a beer and plant myself on the couch can be broken down into three categories: high-quality “Golden Age” shows, guilty pleasures, or whatever sport game my roommate has on when he beats me to the living room. Golden Age shows such as “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” are the ones that have earned my undivided attention. These are the shows that I will always find time to watch, no matter how busy I get.
Guilty pleasures, on the other hand, are shows that I can’t always justify carving time out of my busy life for. Instead, I save these shows for when I have a stack of emails to answer or bills to pay. I used to type away on my computer while watching “Glee” connected to my flatscreen with an Ethernet cord. That stupid cord, however, always got on my nerves. It was an eyesore, I would have to go search for it when it got moved, and my roommate would periodically trip on the cord, presumably to escape the latest Top 40 single on “Glee.”
After one memorable tripping incident during one of Honey Boo Boo Child’s pageants where I almost simultaneously lost my TV and laptop, I decided it was time to go wireless. Here are the best options available for connecting your laptop to your television:
If you have a recent Windows laptop, you don’t need to look any further than Netgear Push2TV. Netgear allows you to duplicate your desktop screen on your television using Intel’s Wireless Link technology. The best part of Netgear Push2TV is that you don’t need to clutter your laptop with a USB antenna like other wireless options.
If you want to know if your computer is compatible with Intel’s Wireless Link, just go to your Windows start menu and search for WiDi. If your PC comes with Intel WiDi, it will show up. If your television has Intel WiDi built-in, all you have to do is set-up the connection once and with a click of a button on a widget you can duplicate your screen anytime. You’ll have to purchase an adapter if your TV isn’t WiDi compatible. One small consolation of the burden of having to purchase an adapter is that Netgear is the cheapest option we looked at.
The Imation Link
The Imitation Link succeeds where Netgear Push2TV falls short; you can use both your laptop and watch something on TV simultaneously with Imation Link. Instead of duplicating your desktop screen, it allows you to extend your screen. Mac owners can also rejoice that The Imitation Link is OS X compatible. Because it employs Wireless USB technology, it is important that there is nothing in-between your computer and television. With the right set-up, you can stream video in HD without annoying wires.
If full HD video quality is important to you, Veebeam HD might be the wireless solution you’ve been looking for. Veebeam is capable of streaming 1080p video, while The Imitation Link caps out at 720p. Veebeam also uses Wireless USB with a USB antenna, so any line of sight obstruction will cause the connection to be interrupted. Veebeam supports OS X in addition to Windows Vista and Windows 7, but requires use with a newer and more powerful laptop.
It is a shame that Veebeam requires a few extra hurdles to stream less common codecs, but it requires just a one-time fix. Veebeam duplicates rather than extends the screen as well. The device comes with an optical audio output for surround sound. An advantage of Veebeam HD over other HD streaming devices like Apple TV or Roku is the ability to access Hulu.com instead of paying for Hulu Plus. Plus, Veebeam is among the easiest to set-up that we’ve evaluated.
While the benefits of connecting your laptop to your television are obvious, deciding which device to buy is not as clear. Depending on your operating system, the quality of picture you require, and whether or not you want to be able to use your laptop while using the television as a monitor, will determine which option is best for you. Have you cut the HDMI cord and upgraded to a wireless, and trip-hazard-free, option?
Author Bio: Dwayne Thomas is a tech enthusiast and staff writer for cabletv.com. He welcomes your feedback on Twitter @DwayneThomas15.