Ask 10 people what they use their cell phones most for, and, although this is a totally arbitrary number that I've just made up off the top of my head, I'm betting at least seven of them will not list "making phone calls" as their No. 1 use. (I’m definitely one of the seven—since getting an iPhone in November 2010, I’ve spent less than 5 days total on actual calls.)
The brilliance of the "smart phone," including iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys, etc., is that they're capable of so much more than a phone call. Email, texting, gaming, listening to music, watching movies, storing documents and photos, surfing the web … the list goes on and on. Sharing these items is made easy, as well. You can forward a picture of your adorable dog from your phone to your mom's email, ensuring a slurry of forwards to other family members. You can message a photo of a particular item you need from the store to your spouse so they bring home the right brand. When you're at the gym with a friend and they have nothing to entertain them on the treadmill, you can both watch a movie on your tablet computer.
On occasion, your phone or tablet screen might not be large enough for your shared items to make the impact you want them to. Is your baby just too cute to be confined to a three-inch screen? Completely understandable. Would you rather share a photo of their first tooth on a 46-inch screen? Completely possible.
Hooking your phone and tablets to a TV is a convenient way to share media on a larger scale.
iPhones (and iPads and iPods)
There are a variety of ways to hook Apple devices to a TV. Cables are one way:
- HDMI adapters—such as Apple’s official Digital AV Adapter—create the highest quality connection. They even allow for "mirroring" with an iPad 2, which means that you can play games on your iPad and see them on the big screen.
- Component cables—which can be found at any electronics store, but also come in an official Apple variety—don’t have the fancy "mirroring" aspect of HDMI adapters, nor is the connection between device and TV high quality, but some games have been optimized for this type of cable; the phone becomes the controller and the TV the screen.
- Composite AV cables—which, yes, Apple has too—allow you to share video-based media at a low resolution. If you've got an older TV or an older Apple product, these cables are your best bet.
AppleTV is a hardware option that will let you stream music, videos and photos from an iPhone or iPad (and your desktop or laptop) to your TV through the wireless AirPlay feature.
While the models and makes of Android devices vary greatly, most of them come with a mini-HDMI port that enables you to use a mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable to share media via your TV.
Some Androids, including the Incredible, come with a "TV Out" option that allows sharing media with the help of an optional accessory cord that plugs into the micro USB port on the phone and into the composite port on your TV.
The least-easy-to-connect phones, some Blackberrys come with HDMI ports, but not all. Others are equipped with USB ports that would allow you to connect to a TV through an Xbox 360 or a Wii using a micro-USB-to-USB cable. Although, beware, the Internet hive mind seems to agree that a Blackberry's low screen resolution will make for awful viewing on anything larger.
Mandy Curtis is small town girl living in a nerdy world. She's a writer and editor by trade, and a pop culture, fantasy and scifi lover by heart. When she's not spending time here, she blogs about a variety of nerdery at Chocolate & Cream Cake.