How to Stream TV To Your Dorm Room

Impress your roomies by streaming a series or film to your dorm TV

Male and female college students streaming media from their iPhone and laptop to their dorm room TV
Stream media from your smartphone or computer to your dorm room TV.

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Tired of watching free-to-air and cable on your dorm TV and looking for an alternative? Streaming or mirroring content from your smartphone, tablet, or computer may be just what you need and could even be cheaper than your existing setup. Here's what you need to know.

Important Rules for Streaming and Mirroring

Specific instructions for mirroring and streaming will vary depending on the devices used but here are some important tips that will apply to all scenarios.

  • Make sure all of the devices, including the smart TV if being used, are connected to the same Wi-Fi internet connection if you're planning to do wireless streaming or mirroring.
  • Some devices may require that Bluetooth be enabled for streaming or mirroring to work so it's best to leave this turned on.
  • When streaming or mirroring, remember to plug your charging cable into your smartphone, tablet, or computer as the process can take up a lot of battery power.
  • If mirroring, you may want to turn off notifications on your device as these will pop up on your TV while watching a movie or TV episode.
  • Dormitory staff should be able to provide you with detailed instructions on your dorm's particular TV setup including the password for the Wi-Fi connection.
  • If multiple students are going to be using the same dorm room TV on a regular basis for streaming TV or cable, it may be a good idea to discuss who's paying for which subscription services as the last thing you want is for multiple people to be paying for the same cable channel or TV channel. If you can get everyone in your dorm to agree to chip in a dollar or two a month, you could get a much cheaper TV or cable service than you would have otherwise.

Watching Media on a Dorm Room Smart TV

A smart TV is essentially a television set that has functionality beyond that of just playing TV channels and media from a connected Blu-ray player or video game console. Some smart TVs may have just a small selection of apps such as Netflix and YouTube which are installed on the TV itself and can be used for streaming online video when connected to the internet. Other more advanced smart TVs may have an even larger selection of apps, voice controls, and an option for streaming media from another device or mirroring.

Some of the phrases used on a smart TV that mean that it can receive a wireless stream or mirror signal are Miracast, Screen Mirroring, Display Mirroring, SmartShare, and AllShare Cast.

If your smart TV has media apps such as Netflix already installed on it, you can simply log into your Netflix account directly on the TV without the use of any smart device or computer.

  • iOS devices such as iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads may need a special app to mirror or stream media to a smart TV. For example, streaming to a Samsung smart TV will need the Mirror for Samsung TV iOS app. Smart TVs usually inform users of which apps, if any, are required for streaming media once they're turned on.
  • Windows 8 and 10 PCs can mirror to a smart TV by pressing on the Project button in the Notification Center on the desktop.
  • Wireless streaming and mirroring from an Android smartphone or tablet varies by device. A quick way to check if the option is available to you is to open the Notification pane, tap on Quick Connect and then click on Scan for nearby devices. If your device can stream/mirror, your smart TV should show up in a list of available devices.

Stream & Mirror With Apple AirPlay

AirPlay is a technology developed by Apple that allows iOS devices such as iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches to stream media and mirror their displays on an Apple TV.

An Apple TV is a small device that connects to a TV set via an HDMI cable and essentially turns it into a smart TV with apps for streaming services, video games, and iTunes music.

  1. On your iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Panel.
  2. Tap on the Screen Mirroring button and select Apple TV.

Mirror & Stream With Chromecast

Like the Apple TV, Google's Chromecast is a small device that brings smart TV functionality to any TV with an HDMI cable port. Chromecast features a variety of built-in apps for streaming media from services such as Netflix and YouTube and it can also be used to stream and mirror content from a range of devices. Some smart TVs have Chromecast technology built-in and don't require the purchase of a separate Chromecast hardware device.

iOS Devices: After installing the Google Home app on your iOS device, a small cast icon will appear in the upper-right corner of your screen when media from a compatible app can be streamed to your Chromecast-connected TV. Popular apps that support this functionality are Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, HBO GO, and Hulu.

Android Devices: Android smartphones and tablets can mirror their entire screen on a Chromecast-connected TV set.

  1. On your Android device, open the Google Home app.
  2. Tap on the menu icon which will look like three horizontal lines and then select Cast Screen.
  3. Your Chromecast should show up on a list of compatible devices. Click on it to begin mirroring your device.

Windows PC: The entire contents of a web browser's tab can be mirrored on your TV using the Google Chrome browser. This can be great for when viewing video or images that are embedded on a website.

  1. Open Google Chrome and click on the three dots in the top-right corner.
  2. Click on Cast.
  3. Your Chromecast that's connected to your TV should appear in a list of connected devices. Click on it to begin mirroring the current browser tab.

Popular Streaming Alternatives

While Apple TV and Chromecast are commonly used, two other popular streaming devices that are solid options are Amazon's Fire TV and Roku. Each device has several models to choose from, such as the Amazon Fire TV Cube and Roku Ultra, with each selling in a different price range.


How to Connect a Laptop or Computer to Your TV

Mirror Your Device With an HDMI Cable

By far one of the simplest ways to mirror a smartphone, tablet, or computer is to connect it directly to your TV set via an HDMI cable. Compatible cables are available for iOS and Android devices in addition to Windows and Mac computers and they just require you to connect one end to your device and the other to one of your TV's HDMI ports. As soon as the physical connection is made, the mirroring should begin automatically.