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How to enjoy your own content on a big-screen TV

New ways to view your personal photos and home videos

Published: January 2014

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Photo: Flying Colours

Photos and home videos look nice on a computer or tablet, but they're spectacular on a big TV. Many smart TVs and streaming media devices let you stream movies, music, and photos from portable ­devices on your home network.

A growing number of products share content using the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard. But there are other standards as well.

You can transfer content using screen-mirroring technologies such as Miracast (supported by many TVs and Android portable devices), Apple AirPlay (which works between Apple ­iPhones and iPads and the Apple TV), and Bluetooth, which can primarily send audio to either a compatible TV's speakers or a sound bar. Some TVs now include the short-range NFC capability to forge a quick tap-to-pair network connection with compatible portable devices.

Do your homework before you buy with our buying guides and Ratings for streaming-media devices and TVs.

If you don't feel like monkeying around with obscure network protocols, you can plug your devices directly into your TV. Most modern TVs have at least one USB port to let you plug in a thumb drive to play your own media files.

Plug-in screen mirroring can be done with devices that have an HDMI input that supports mobile high-definition link (MHL), a type of connection found on many new Android smart devices and supported by many new TVs.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the March 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

   

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