How to connect your phone, laptop and tablet to the TV

28 Feb 2019

Phone connecting with TV

Between Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and sports streaming applications like SkyGo, there are plenty of reasons why you would want to cut the cord from your traditional TV networks. But that leaves you with the question of how to connect all of the devices on to your TV. Whether it is your laptop, phone, tablet, or even a gaming device, you can use them to connect to any streaming application that your heart desires – you just need to know how.

Which is why we have come up with the guide to connect any device you could imagine up to your new TV.

How to connect a laptop to the TV

Image of different leads

If you want to connect your laptop to your TV you are first going to need to figure out what ports are available on both your laptop and your TV. The easiest way to go about this is by using an HDMI port, which almost all laptops should have, unless you use a budget laptop or an Apple MacBook. If you do have a MacBook, just pop on down to the next section where we explain how to connect a MacBook to your TV. If you have a budget unit that lacks an HDMI port, then you will need a USB-to-HDMI Adapter, available online for about £10 almost anywhere they stock computer bits and bobs.

Alternatively, your laptop may have a VGA port which also requires the use of an audio lead, which will take up your laptop’s headphone port. This may be an option on older laptop models, but if the HDMI port is available on the laptop, we recommend you use one of them.

To connect your laptop with an HDMI cable, simply pop either end of your HDMI cable into their respective ports in the laptop and TV. Ensure that your laptop and TV are both turned on, and the laptop will automatically configure to give you the best viewing settings. If it does not connect, simply go to Display in your laptop’s Control Panel and toggle the display to select your TV.

We’ve highlighted what an HDMI connection and port look like in the picture below.

Image of HDMI lead

How to connect your Apple MacBook to your TV

Connecting a MacBook to a TV can be a little bit trickier than a regular laptop, especially if you have a newer model. Most of the older models had an HDMI port, however this has been removed in the newer version – to identify the ports on your Mac, have a look at their handy guide.

If your model has an HDMI port – great! Just use the method as described above. If on the other hand, your model has a Thunderbolt, USB-C or USB-A port, then you will need to get the relevant adapter and pop the HDMI cable into that instead. Much the same as above, the laptop should do all the work to automatically configure the TV, however if it doesn’t you will need to go into ‘Displays’ in the System Preferences and configure it manually by selecting the correct arrangement.

How to wirelessly connect a laptop to a TV

If you’re a bit of a neat freak and don’t want wires everywhere, there are some options to connect your laptop to your TV wirelessly.

The easiest way is to use a Google Chromecast. Just plug it into your TV, connect it your network and you will be able to stream any Chrome tab to the TV with a click of a button.

Close up of Chromecast

If you have a Windows laptop, you can buy a device such as a Miracast. Most of these devices work largely like the Chromecast solution above and are natively supported on Windows 10+.

If you want to connect your PC to your TV instead of a laptop, simply use any of the methods as detailed above. Some or all of them will work just as well on your PC as your laptop, depending on the age of your machine and the ports and connections available.

How to connect a phone to the TV

Modern smartphones really bring the power when it comes to playing media, however, viewing videos and playing games on a relatively small screen can become irritating. If you want to see your phone on the big screen, there is a solution for almost all smartphones on the market, although if you own a niche phone, the way to play it on a TV may be slightly esoteric (in which case we would refer you to your owner’s manual).

A method to connect your phone to your TV that works for most modern phones is to buy an MHL/SlimPort connection. Essentially, this is a USB-type adaptor that connects to your phones power port and gives you a HDMI port to connect to a TV.

Close up of HDMI connected to a mobile phone

Another user-friendly method is to purchase a Google Chromecast – an inexpensive dongle that plugs into one of the HDMI ports on your TV and connects to your wireless networks. If you have an Android (or Google phone), you will be able to cast your phone’s screen to the TV by connecting to the Chromecast.

For two of the biggest brands – Samsung and Apple - there are other ways that you can connect your phone to your TV.

If you happen to own a Samsung phone and a Samsung Smart TV, you’re in luck – most Samsung smartphones include a feature that you can use to connect to your TV and ‘cast’ the screen onto it. Depending on the model and age of your phone, this may be called Screen Mirroring, Smart View, or Quick Connect, one of which will be available in your settings. Simply select this to option to mirror your phone on your Samsung Smart TV. If you don’t own a Samsung Smart TV, you will need to use one of the methods described above.

To connect your iPhone to a TV, by far the simplest way to do this is to connect your iPhone using Apple’s Digital AV Adapter. Pop that on your iPhone, insert the HDMI cable on the other end, insert the power outlet, and your TV will become a mirror of the screen on your phone.

Alternatively, if you own an Apple TV, you can connect your iPhone to your TV without having to use an annoying adapter. Ensure that your Apple TV is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your phone and then select Screen Mirroring on your phone to mirror the screen on your phone.

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How to connect a tablet to the TV

Connecting your tablet to your TV works in much the same way as connecting your smartphone to a TV.

Tablet connecting with TV

If you have a Samsung Galaxy Tab, Amazon Fire, Google Pixel or similar tablet you can connect them to your TV by buying the appropriate adapter for your device, and connecting the HDMI cable to it. This will allow your TV screen to mirror your device’s screen. Alternatively, you can cast your device onto your TV using a Chromecast (or similar product).

If you have an Apple product, again these can be a little bit tricky – simply use the methods for the iPhone as detailed in the last section.

It’s worth noting that if you have a particularly old tablet or phone, they may have older, discontinued technologies, so ensure that you get the right connections when buying port adapters and cables. Because each product is so different, we recommend checking your user manual for details on your connections if you are unsure.

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