Streaming Video from Your Computer via iPad/iPhone to HDTV

Want to play video on your HDTV? That is easy as there are a lot of solutions. The simplest one is to connect the HDTV with your computer using an HDMI cable. However, in most cases, we do not want to do this, as our family members watching the video, we might have to work on other stuff using the computer. What we want is a device, which works as a proxy and streams video from our computer to the HDTV.

If you live in China, you can buy a cheap Android device like the Xiaomi Hezi ( Hezi is a small box that works like Apple TV but much cheaper — US$ 50 each. You might noticed that New York Times accused Xiaomi in its article, In China, an Empire Built by Aping Apple. But I do not see any product Xiaomi stolen from Apple, because all products from Xiaomi are basing on Google’s open source Android operating system. And I do not think the CEO of Xiaomi should feel guilty if he wears the same kind of T-shirt as Steven Jobs. Xiaomi provide you the freedom to use an Android-based device to meet your own need.

However, how if you do not have a Xiaomi Box, or if you already got too many Apple devices, like me? You might be suggested to buy one more device from Apple, an Apple TV, which will work as the proxy that streams video from your iMac or Mac Book Pro to your HDTV. This is not a good idea as Apple TV is twice the price as Xiaomi Hezi; it is about US$ 100. And it looks more costly if you already have an iPad or an iPhone.

In fact, you can use your iPad or iPhone with your HDTV, if you buy a Apple 30-pin to VGA cable ( from Apple Store. As other accessories from Apple, this cable is expensive – US$ 49. However, from some unofficial sites, you can get the same thing in much cheaper price. So Google for it and take your own risk.

In this rest of this post, I will show how it is possible to download video from the Internet, how to transcode them so to be played with iTunes, and how to stream from iTunes on your Mac OS X computers to your iPad or iPhone, and how to connect your iPad or iPhone via above cable to your HDTV.

Download Video from Youtube

I am not sure whether it is legal. If it is not, do not do it! Technically, it is viable to download videos from Youtube by the online tool: On your computer, whether it is a Mac or a PC, access KeepVid using a Web browser with Java support, paste the URL on the Web page, and select Download. If Java is enabled with your browser, you can see multiple formats shown for your choice. You might want to choose the MP4 format, as it can be played with iTunes and streams to your iPad or iPhone through Apple’s Home Sharing protocol. I just cannot make my Safari browser on my OS X Mountain Lion work with Java, but fortunately, my Firefox for OS X works good with Java.

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Transcode Other Videos

You might already have movies in AVI, RMVB or MTK format. However, you might feel disappointed when you cannot add them into your iTunes library because iTunes does not support these commonly used high-density formats. Do not worry that that, you have HandBrake,, which is an open source program that can convert almost all major video formats to MP4. Remember to change the output format to MPEG 4 in both Video and Audio tab, before transcoding.

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Enable Home Sharing from Your iTunes

The Home Sharing feature provided by Apple allows videos in iTunes to be streams to devices like iPad, iPhone or Apple TV on the same subnet. Usually you already have a Wifi router in your home, and all your computers and devices are connected to it. In such case, all your computers and devices have already been on the same subnet. The painful part is finding the way to enable Home Sharing from you iTunes. With my iMac running Mac OS X Mountain Lion and iTunes 11.0.4, I do the following two steps to enable it:
(1) Press Command-comma when you use iTunes on your computer. This brings the Preference dialog of iTunes. On the Sharing tab, check “Share my library on my local network”, then
(2) From the menu “File/Home Sharing/Turn On File Sharing” of iTunes, enable Home Sharing. This would requires that you input your Apple Account, as only devices bound to the same Apple Account can join this Home Sharing group.

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It is noticeable that Apple frequently changes their configuration dialogs and menu bars in their products, so if you are using other versions of iTunes, find your way to Home Sharing.

Open Video from Your iPad or iPhone

After above settings, when you open the “Video” app from your iPad or iPhone, you would be able to see an additional tag named “Shared” in addition to the one named “Store”. Click “Shared”, then you will see shared libraries. Click a library to see videos in it. Make sure that the video can be played with your device.

Connect iPad or iPhone to Your HDTV

It is very simple: you need to chain up your device, the Apple 30-pin to VGA cable mentioned above, a VGA cable and your TV. Here attaches a photo showing how I set up the devices. I this photo, I also connect my iPad with an external speaker. So, have fun with your setting.