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How to stream content from Android devices to a HDTV, sans Chromecast

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August 1, 2013

Here's how to stream digital media from Android to your HDTV without Chromcast

Here's how to stream digital media from Android to your HDTV without Chromcast

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There's plenty of excitement out there about Google's US$35 Chromecast that allows you to stream digital media to your HDTV. So much so that at the time of this writing there's a three to four week waiting period for the device. But, if you have a Roku, Apple TV, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, select Smart TVs or other UPnP or DLNA compliant device connected to your HDTV, you can already stream digital content to them from your Android device with an app. Here's how.

There are a few apps for Android that will allow you to do this, but we'll focus on Twonky Beam, which requires Android 4.0 or higher, and iMediaShare, which works with Android 1.6 and higher. Twonky Beam is free, while iMediaShare comes in free and pro versions. It's also worth noting that both of these apps are available on iOS as well.

For this article I'm using the first generation Nexus 7, but you'll certainly have no problem using the new Nexus 7 or an Android smartphone.

Using iMediaShare

The first step is to install iMediaShare on your Android device. The first time you launch the app, you'll get a quick introduction on how to use it and what it does. It will also provide you a list of compatible devices on your home network that you can stream content to.

Select the device you want to stream to

Next it allows you to select categories of content that you're most interested in. Just check the categories you want and continue.

During set of iMediaShare you can select from a list of categories you're interested in

Then you'll be presented with a menu showing the cornucopia of online content you can check out. Indecisive types be warned, there's a lot to choose from.

iMediaShare provides several channels of content your can select from

When you find something you want to watch, select it and a menu will come up allowing you to select which device you want to stream it to. You'll then see a message that the player is buffering while it makes a connection. The amount of time it takes for the video to start streaming on your TV will vary depending on your wireless network speed and the amount of traffic it's handling.

Note that this app can also provide entertainment while you're not near your TV as it lets you watch videos and listen to music directly on your Android device.

Select the device you want to stream to, or watch it on your Android

Here I decided to stream a YouTube video to my Xbox 360. While you can control playback from your Android device, you can also use the Xbox controller or remote.

Streaming a YouTube video from Nexus 7 to Xbox 360

While the free "lite" version works well, you can't stream video in high quality HD. You'll also have to deal with ads popping up within the interface. Also, each time you start it, there's a full page ad you have to close out of. If those caveats aren't a bother, the free version is just fine. But if you want to remove the ads and get HD quality streaming capablities, the pro version will set you back $4.99.

Here's an example of a full screen ad you'll need to close out of when launching the free ...

Using Twonky Beam

It may have a funny name, but Twonky Beam is a powerful app that allows users to stream music, video and pictures stored locally on their Android device. It also gives access to digital media on computers on a home network, for beaming to a set top box or game console connected to your HDTV. And, like iMediaShare, it comes with several video streaming services set up and ready to go.

First, install Twonky Beam on your Android device. While it works with Xbox 360 and other DLNA-enabled devices without the need for any additional software, Roku owners will need to install the Twonky app on their Roku by doing a search for "Twonky" and adding the channel when it comes up.

Another point worth noting if you have a Roku, which lacks of a YouTube channel, is that both Twonky Beam and iMediaShare provide a quality work around that gives you the ability to watch YouTube videos on it.

Search for the Twonky channel via the Roku store

When you launch Twonky Beam, you'll get a list of online channels, similar to that of iMediaShare. Unlike iMediaShare, however, Twonky allows you to directly enter in the URL for a video you want to stream.

Twonky Beam has a list of internet channels you can stream content from

Tap on a channel you want to browse, and when you find a video you want to stream, tap on it. Then a Beam button overlay will appear on the video screen. Select the TV device you want to stream it to, tap the Beam button and enjoy the show.

Select the TV device you want to stream to then tap the Beam overlay button

Just like with iMediaShare, you can control playback from the app controls on your Android device, or by using the remote control of the device being streamed to.

Control video playback from your Android device or physical remote of the set-top box

Summing up

Both of these apps work well for streaming video and music to a set top box or game console connected to your HDTV, and they also work with select Smart TVs. Plus they both allow you to stream content directly on your Android device (provided you're connected to your home network.) There are advantages and disadvantages to each one, so you might want to install both to see which you prefer.

About the Author
Brian Burgess Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Gizmag, he’s the Editor in Chief at groovyPost.com and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek. Away from the keyboard, you're likely to find him listening to heavy metal, playing guitar, or watching Star Trek.   All articles by Brian Burgess
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4 Comments

Thanks for that Brian. I've been using Twonky Beam for a while to send youtube video from my iPad to my xbox360 after I saw an article about it in a local computer magazine. While it has a few bugs it works most of the time Ok. It saves me $ by not having to get a xbox live gold subscription just so I can watch youtube videos on my TV.

Now that I've read this I'll have to download imediashare lite and compare the 2 products for myself.

Mikey T
1st August, 2013 @ 10:03 pm PDT

Nice. I've found I can already chromecast to my Yahoo! apps powered vizio "smart" TV - of course only for apps that the TV has (YouTube and Netflix). Since I have my "desktop" hooked up straight to the TV, it's not really an issue, but I've been considering getting a Chromecast for portable presentations from Google Drive (via chrome). Of course, there are a few hitches with this, like needing an HDMI to VXA adapter, and needing to get on the local WiFi network with both my phone and the Chromecast, but it could potentially be good. Of course, it would be great if "Drive" would cast directly, and if there were a bluetooth model with NFC setup (obviously for a higher $$ figure) but the convenience and size of this device still make it look like a good possibility for many situations.

Charles Bosse
5th August, 2013 @ 08:40 am PDT

This looks fine, but isn't it more like Chromecasting the tab option on the Chromecast unit? If the app isn't available for direct streaming, it streams from the tablet or laptop, but if it is Pandora or YouTube, ChromeCast somehow hands it off to the dongle and you are not streaming from the tablet anymore. That's how I understand it anyway.

pwndecaf
5th November, 2013 @ 05:35 am PST

I have new Vizio M series. I have Imediashare app. You can browse through the tv menu and find imediashare listed. You can click it and can browse the videos and pictures on your phone fine, from the tv only, but you CAN'T get the "app" on the phone to play videos or display pictures from your phone to the TV. It will work from the TV to the phone (you can see what's in the phone from the tv, but this is pointless as you have to use the tv remote and it's cumbersome.)

From my research, the TV needs to be www.DLNA.org certified as a DMR (Digital Media Renderer) and it is not. This would allow you to "beam" the photo's and video's from your phone to the tv screen. Just about all other tvs are DLNA certified, but this one isn't. frown.gif I'm trying to change Vizio's mind about this, but I don't know if they will do it.

Any other ideas? I guess twonky wouldn't work?

Jackie1
20th November, 2013 @ 10:29 am PST
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