If you do not have a SmartTV there are ways to connect your laptop or tablet to your television to get the same features. The process is not difficult or expensive. However, there are many different ways to go about it depending on what suits your needs and whether you want to use cables or a casting device.
What cables do you need?
The first job is to look at what ports are available on both your laptop, tablet and television. The easiest way to link your laptop to your television is with a HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cable. Unless your laptop is really old it should have a HDMI output and nearly all televisions made in the past six years will have HDMI ports. Because size is an issue with tablets, the sockets on most Android tablets are either Mini HDMI or Micro HDMI. Android users have access to cheaper cables to connect to television than Apple users. If you use Apple you must buy Apple-branded cables to connect a device to a television set, which is more expensive than generic versions.
If your laptop or television is too old to have a HDMI port you can use a VGA cable (or a VGA to HDMI cable if only one end of the connection uses a HDMI port) and an audio connection cable for video or sound.
A HDMI connection provides the best quality picture and sound and it requires just the one cable for both video and audio. Once you have the cables connected, make sure you select the correct HDMI channel on your TV. Your laptop should automatically configure to give you the best settings. If it does not automatically select the right setting, go to Control Panel > Display > Adjust Resolution – from here you will see two drop down boxes. The first thing you will need to do is toggle the Display drop down to select your TV, next you need to ensure that the Resolution drop down box matches the settings that are correct for your TV.
If you do not want a cable running between your device and your TV (and chances are you probably have a mess of cables behind your screen anyway) it isn’t difficult or expensive to run the connection wirelessly.
The easiest, cheapest and best way to do this is with a Chromecast from Google. Depending on the model you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $100. The device is widely available and is simply a dongle that you can plug into the HDMI port of your television, connecting your television to your wireless network. It is supported by all the Australian television network streaming services and is very easy to use. Once it is connected, you are able to cast from your laptop or tablet directly onto your television screen.
If you have an Apple device, you will have to fork out more money for an AppleTV, which is more expensive but even easier to set up.