If you are a normal internet user, you probably have a whole bunch of content on your PC. However, occasionally, you may want to listen to those music files or watch movies on a device other than your computer.
Media is consumed in myriad ways in modern times. It’s easy to download music, movies, and other media files to your computer which has a massive storage drive to hold it all, unlike, say, your iPhone. But what happens when you do want to get those PC files to play on a music player, a tablet, or a speaker set?
Here is a guide explaining several ways you can stream content from PC to a handheld or household smart device:
Stream with a Bluetooth Connection
Possibly the easiest way to stream music and movie files is via a Bluetooth connection. This is fast, highly reliable and requires exactly zero wires.
You can use Bluetooth to connect your PC to any enabled device, such as your budget music player, a wireless speaker set in the shower, a smart TV, a tablet, or a smartphone. Bluetooth connections are readily available with nearly all handheld or smart devices.
Your PC, if it’s relatively new, should be Bluetooth enabled. If not, don’t worry. You can buy a Bluetooth adapter to connect to a USB port on your computer. You can then use the USB port as a Bluetooth connection hub.
Bluetooth devices usually automatically connect if the feature is enabled. If your PC is not automatically connecting to a Bluetooth-enabled device, go to device settings. On Windows 7 onward, you can go to Control Panel, choose Settings, and find the Devices tab. Alternatively, you can search Settings or Devices from the search option on the Start Menu.
When you go to Devices, locate the “Bluetooth and other devices” tab. Make sure the option is enabled. Once it is, you can select Bluetooth and add a new device. When a new device is added, your PC will remember this device until you delete it. Also, whenever the device is in the vicinity, your PC should automatically connect.
Connect to Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi works similarly to Bluetooth, but without requiring a “dongle.” If your PC and the device you need to stream to has a Wi-Fi connection, simply turn it on. Then you can access the media files on your PC over the internet.
It’s will be much easier if you have your files stored over a cloud network. Wi-Fi is a widely accessible and easy-to-use solution. However, it may not be reliable depending on the strength of the connection. Besides, you might need to buy a good router as well.
Use a Streaming Stick
A streaming stick like a Chromebit or an Intel Compute Stick can permanently connect your PC to a television set. Meaning, you won’t have to connect or re-connect each time.
A streaming stick plugs into the HDMI port of any TV. The stick is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi to connect to the internet, from which you can get access to content stored on your PC. A streaming stick can be as convenient as having a tablet that connects to your TV.
What’s more, you can connect a keyboard or a mouse to the stick with a Bluetooth connection. Essentially, you can access all PC-stored media content even without turning on your computer. Needless to say, it works best with a cloud data.
Use a Small Form Factor Computer
As convenient as a Bluetooth or a Wi-Fi connection can be, it’s not always suitable for streaming massive 4K content or streaming directly to multiple displays. A Bluetooth connection, for example, supports only one device at a time.
A Small Form Factor computer, an SFF, is a type of server that acts as a conduit between your PC and another device like a TV. An SFF requires an HDMI connection. It may be wired, but an SFF can stream to multiple screens at once.
You can buy an SFF with any hardware configuration you like online or from an IT store. Keep in mind that these gadgets can be expensive. It’s possible to build an SFF at home using a processor like a Raspberry Pi. But you will need some technical skill for that.
An SFF offers several advantages for streaming because this gadget can support many peripheral connections. The output is strictly HDMI, but you can use USB 3.0 or Bluetooth for input. The latter connection can connect the SFF to an external storage device too.
Set Up a DLNA or a Miracast Network
What if you need to stream media files on your computer across multiple devices scattered throughout your home? Setting up a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) or a Miracast home network is the easiest solution.
DLNA is an open standard designed specifically for sharing media files on a private network. You will need a DLNA server to connect your PC and the devices you want to use. It’s relatively easy to set up on a PC, as long as the OS is Windows 7 or higher.
The Windows Media Player already installed on your PC can act as a DLNA server. When you update to the latest version, you will see a tab just for streaming. You can enable streaming and also select the devices you want the content to be available on.
Miracast is like DLNA, but it’s a newer standard. You can only use this if you have a Windows 10 PC. This OS has streaming built-in independent of Windows Media Player (though you can still use that if you prefer). Just follow your computer’s instructions on how to connect to a DLNA-compatible device in your home.
The above are five different ways you can stream content from your PC to any device of your choosing. You may already use connections like Bluetooth. But if you want to upgrade to something better, consider a DLNA network or an SFF computer. If you have a home theater system, these methods would work the best.
Keep in mind that the device you want to use must be compatible with the streaming method you have in mind. Once that’s out of the way, you will be able to watch movies and listen to music without a problem.
Tracy Plunkett is a New Zealand-based blogger who covers a variety of technology-related topics. She is also an avid traveller and an amateur photographer.