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

How to stream content from And...
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
View 16 Images
Select the device you want to stream to
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Select the device you want to stream to
iMediaShare provides several channels of content your can select from
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iMediaShare provides several channels of content your can select from
Select the device you want to stream to, or watch it on your Android
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Select the device you want to stream to, or watch it on your Android
Streaming a YouTube video from Nexus 7 to Xbox 360
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Streaming a YouTube video from Nexus 7 to Xbox 360
When starting off with iMediaShare a brief tutorial on gesture control pops up
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When starting off with iMediaShare a brief tutorial on gesture control pops up
During set of iMediaShare you can select from a list of categories you're interested in
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During set of iMediaShare you can select from a list of categories you're interested in
iMediaShare has a social element that allows you to share what you're watching to social sites
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iMediaShare has a social element that allows you to share what you're watching to social sites
You can watch video on your Nexus 7 in HD, but only stream in SD with the free version of iMediaShare
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You can watch video on your Nexus 7 in HD, but only stream in SD with the free version of iMediaShare
Search for the Twonky channel via the Roku store
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Search for the Twonky channel via the Roku store
Twonky Beam has a list of internet channels you can stream content from
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Twonky Beam has a list of internet channels you can stream content from
Twonky Beam lets you stream content from network locations on your network
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Twonky Beam lets you stream content from network locations on your network
Twonky Beam settings allow you to stream in high quality
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Twonky Beam settings allow you to stream in high quality
Select the TV device you want to stream to then tap the Beam overlay button
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Select the TV device you want to stream to then tap the Beam overlay button
Here's how to stream digital media from Android to your HDTV without Chromcast
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Here's how to stream digital media from Android to your HDTV without Chromcast
Here's an example of a full screen ad you'll need to close out of when launching the free version of iMediaShare
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Here's an example of a full screen ad you'll need to close out of when launching the free version of iMediaShare
Control video playback from your Android device or physical remote of the set-top box
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Control video playback from your Android device or physical remote of the set-top box
View gallery - 16 images

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

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
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
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
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
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.

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7 comments
Mikey T
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.
Charles Bosse
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.
pwndecaf
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.
Jackie1
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?
Anton Eliasson
You can also try ShareON, a free app that’s available on both iOS and Android and can easily stream video from a PC/Mac to Android or between iOS and Android. I use it all the time to stream movies from my computer to my Android tablet and then fling the video to my TV via DLNA. It doesn't even need any complicated setup and it supports subtitles. iOS App Store: http://bit.ly/11WUkLK Google Play Store: http://bit.ly/1uV36pM Desktop client: http://bit.ly/1uE5rQQ
TomJones
Even as of August 2013, at the time of this article; yes, Roku had (and has) YouTube channel. It was a huge deal when the Roku 1 was first out, that it failed to have a YouTube channel. To those like Jackie1 pondering the 'magic,' YES, you must have a DLNA-type device, whether it's a Roku, a Smart-TV-with-DLNA, or just ye olde Blu-ray player with DLNA, or even a PC with Windows 7.
Most of these I've seen, like R-Cast are FAKE "casters;" meaning, they do NOT let you "Cast [whatever] is on your tablet to the TV;" they let you cast ONLY the channels that they provide (or allow)! Now, maybe it's different with Twonky; but I want to, basically take whatever movie I am playing, on my tablet, whether it is via Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, Sulu, Mombu (I made up those last 2), YouTube, etc and "cast" it to my TV. Yes, even if I'm playing my "home-made videos" of the dog locally on my tablet - I would like to cast that to the TV.
One main problem comes about from "wired" connections - i.e., let's use Android tablet with mini/micro-HDMI - well, if you play Netflix, Comcast streaming app,, etc., well, as soon as you hook up your mini-HDMI to the TV, it says "WARNING - YOU HAVE HOOKED UP A SECONDARY DISPLAY. THIS CONTENT WILL NOT PLAY UNTIL YOU UNHOOK THE SECONDARY DISPLAY." Now, is that a rip-off or what?! MAJOR rip-off! You DON'T get that when you hook up a PC !!! Why in the eff would you get it from hooking up a tablet to the TV? Because of the STUDIOS and the MPAA, etc. They want to CONTROL the fact that ONE PERSON at a time is watching their content (and they claim it's easier to maintain the media/content licensing that way)! But... they never did that with the PC! Only with the Tablets & Phones! HIGHLY BIASED AND UNFAIR! So... the only other options we have are some means to "cast" the screen from tablet/phone to the TV (unless some brilliant 'hacker' comes up with a way to FAKE OUT the android tablet/phone so it thinks the 'secondary display' IS the 'primary display!' I'd PAY for THAT! Again: you do NOT need a 'SmartTV' with DLNA, if you have a regular, non-DLNA SmartTV, just buy a Roku or an inexpensive Blu-ray player that is DLNA-compliant (most of them are). But yes, I agree with Jackie1, I would like ALL TVs to be DLNA-ready (with DLNA capability installed by default). Either way, the Rokus and small sticks and dongles eventually will have that capability always built-in, so you won't have to worry about the TV having it built-in. Even though this article is a bit dated, it is an outstanding article! Thanks. Cheers!
annevance
On the newer android's you'll find cast screen and it works great with Belkin Miracast which I am missing in this article. A little bit more expensive than chromecast, but you will have your tablet screen on the HDTV. Now you can watch anything, Popcorn, Movie4K Whatever is on the internet you can watch.