Projectors often need to be placed in the most inconvenient locations to connect your laptop or computer to – they are often hanging from a ceiling or sitting across the other side of the room. Thankfully, instead of trying to perform the trapeze each time you need to connect your laptop, tablet or phone to the projector, you are now offered a number of wireless solutions that allow you to stream content to a projector without wires. This makes life much more comfortable, whether you’re taking a portable Pico laptop to the boardroom with you or simply relaxing in the den using your projector as a home theater.
Using Apple Airplay to Stream Content Wirelessly to your Projector
If you’re lucky enough to be using a projector that supports Apple AirPlay, such as the excellent iDea Pico Projector or EUG 760+(A), you should be able to use its wireless streaming capabilities without buying additional hardware. You’ll need a device that supports AirPlay – Apple products running iOS 7.0 (or later) or OSX Mountain Lion 10.8 (or later) are your best bet, but you can also use software like 5KPlayer to stream from computers running Windows.
To use AirPlay on an iOS device, swipe from the bottom of the screen and open the Control Center. Choose AirPlay. Here you’ll see a list of the devices on the network set up to receive AirPlay content. Choose your projector from the list, and the content on your iOS device will be mirrored on the projector. Simple!
Using a Proprietary Wireless Adaptor to Connect to your Projector
If you already have an expensive projector, but it doesn’t have wireless capabilities, you’ll need to take another route. Projector manufacturers, recognizing the growing demand for wireless connectivity in projectors, often offer wireless dongles as an optional extra. Big names like Sony, Epson and BenQ offer wireless dongles for their popular projectors. USB wireless adapters are common on newer models, but wireless adapters with a VGA output are also available for many older projectors without USB ports. Check your projector manufacturer’s website to see if you can buy a wireless adapter for your projector from them or on Amazon.com.
Using a Full Wireless Kit to Turn a Non-Wireless Projector into a Wireless Projector
Proprietary wireless adapters are not available for every projector model, so a more versatile option is choosing a full wireless projector kit such as the . This wireless kit and others like it, works on any projector with an HDMI input. Wireless kits like this work somewhat like a virtual HDMI cable, and come with two digital boxes – one you plug into the HDMI output on your laptop or cable box and the other you plug into the receiving projector. This allows you to transmit up to a 1080p 3D picture.
Both the sending device and receiving device are powered by USB, so you should be able to keep wires to a minimum. This system works through line-of-sight, so the receiving box should be within 20 meters of the sending box.
While a wireless kit is particularly versatile, it’s important to consider their cost, which is about $100 to $350 depending on the brand and special features. Since an excellent new wireless projector can be purchased for less than $800, it might be sensible to consider replacing an old projector with a new wireless one instead of using a wireless kit.
Using a Projector-Connected Computer to Make your Projector Wireless
One of the simplest ways to get the functionality of a wireless printer is to connect a computer to the projector and use the projector as this computer’s output screen. Then, use software that allows you to mirror your content across the network on the projector-connected computer.
Such devices are now available in tiny sizes no bigger than a USB drive with a single HDMI output that you plug into your projector.
A version of this method is to use an Apple TV device connected to the projector, and then use Apple Airplay to stream content to the Apple TV. If you use a Windows PC or laptop connected to the projector, you can use software like AirServer to stream content in a similar fashion.
Alternatively, if your projector-connected device supports Windows, like the tiny Intel Compute Stick, you have a wealth of software options to help you stream content over the network to your projector. A simple option is the use of VNC (Virtual Network Computing), which allows you to mirror screens across computers and remotely control the computer as if you were operating it with a connected mouse and keyboard. Free VNC software clients and servers are available for a host of operating systems, including Windows and Android.
If you are planning to stream movies, TV and music to a home projector, consider installing Plex Media Server on your desktop computer and Plex client software on your projector-connected device. This allows you to send your media to the projector with consummate ease. Plex client software is available for a wide range of platforms, including Windows, OSX, ChromeOS and Android.