On modern Smart TVs, you can get most of the on-demand steaming services available on the Internet, but manufacturers don't always bother to update their apps, thus providing little support for new features. In these cases we can always focus on Chromecast, the Google dongle useful for transmitting the contents of apps on a mobile device or from a web browser tab on a PC. Although we can buy a Chromecast Google TV today, if we want to try something else, what alternatives to Chromecast can we use to send multimedia contents (videos, films and apps) to the TV from a PC or smartphone / tablet?
Let's find out together in this guide.
Alternatives to Chromecast
1) Amazon Fire TV Stick
The first viable alternative to the Chromecast that we can try is Amazon Fire TV Stick, available here -> Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV 4K.
This device connects exactly like the Chromecast to a free HDMI port behind the TV and offers a wide variety of multimedia apps (from Amazon Prime Video to Netflix), all ready to use and manageable via the convenient remote control; with a little tweaking you can also use it to send videos from your PC or smartphone using Miracast. Compared to the Chromecast, the Fire TV Stick saves the apps inside thanks to the dedicated operating system (based on Android), so we can decide which apps to keep and which not by customizing our multimedia experience to the maximum. The Fire TV Stick allows you to cast from compatible apps to mobile and, being a Miracast receiver, allows you to cast the full screen of Windows 10.
A guide on the available apps can be found here -> Amazon Fire TV Stick guide with hidden tricks, apps and features.
2) Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter
Another valid alternative to Chromecast is the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, available here -> Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter.
This HDMI device connects to a free namesake port behind the TV and provides compatibility with the Miracast protocol, used by modern smartphones and the latest version of the Windows operating system (i.e. 10) to send the full screen.
With this solution, therefore, we will be able to see the content of any app from the screen of our portable device or from the PC directly on the TV, without any kind of slowdown or shooting. Windows 10 natively supports Miracast so we can send the full screen of the PC, for example to cast a browser tab.
3) Apple TV
We have dedicated a separate article to Apple TV, explaining when the Apple TV 4K pays, with strengths and weaknesses. Sure, it's more expensive than other Chromecast alternatives, and it works better if you're using other Apple products and subscribed to Apple's streaming service.
4) TV Box Android
Android TV Boxes are undoubtedly one of the best Chromecast alternatives we can try. TV Boxes with Android offer a large amount of apps (via the Play Store), are compatible with Kodi, Plex and any other type of media center and can be customized with ease. There are currently two types of Android TV Boxes available: Certified TV Boxes and non-certified TV Boxes (in the vast majority of cases Chinese products). Among the certified TV Boxes the NVIDIA Shield TV certainly stands out, a real multimedia console with support for Android apps and certified to view FullHD and 4K content from the main multimedia apps (primarily Netflix); you can view it from here -> NVDIA Shield TV.
If, on the other hand, we want to focus on an uncertified TV Box, the expense drops significantly (they are also found at 50 € or less), but many apps may not work properly (such as Netflix will only run with 480p resolution); we can see the best Android TV Box models in the guide available here -> Best Android TV BOX.
If you are interested in learning more about certified apps, you can read the guide available here -> See Netflix in 4K: which TV Box to buy.
Both the certified TV Boxes and the Chinese TV Boxes support Miracast technology (through a special reception app), so they can receive the full screen signal from a PC with Windows 10.
5) Smart TV
The Chromecast or one of its alternatives may not even be necessary, if the TV we have is equipped with Smart functionality.
Let's access the Smart features of our TV, connect it to the Internet via WiFi or Ethernet cable and find out which apps are available with the operating system. We could replicate most of the multimedia apps we usually use (YouTube, Netflix etc.) and therefore avoid using any additional dongle or TV Box to get the on-demand content. The more recent the TV, the more apps we can exploit or install on the system; to choose a new Smart TV we refer you to reading the guide here -> Best Smart TVs to buy. To be able to cast the full screen of the PC, the TV must be equipped with Miracast or alternatively have the integrated Google Cast technology (Chromecast built-in).
Is your TV compatible with the DLNA standard?
In this case we can take advantage of it to see the multimedia contents present on other devices or even to send videos from web pages to the TV, without having to use any Chromecast or one of the alternatives proposed above. First of all let's make sure you connect the TV to your home router: on older TVs there should only be one Ethernet port, while on newer TVs there will also be a WiFi connection.
Once the TV is connected to the home network, all we have to do is use a DLNA server to send local content on a PC or mobile device.
From a PC I recommend using ReadyMedia, which can be downloaded for free for Windows from here -> ReadyMedia.
With this program we will be able to index the multimedia folders of the PC with Windows and make them available on the TV, which will see these as a new source (check the Source button or the Multimedia menu to see the ReadyMedia server appear).
To send the content from smartphone to TV we can use Web Video Cast, available for Android here -> Web Video Cast.
Just access the files on the device and send them to the TV (present among the sources that can be used by the app as a DLNA client); alternatively we can also use this app to send the multimedia content of a web page to the TV, just visit the page with the resource and tap the association button at the top to send the content. To work properly, however, support for all multimedia codecs used on the network or for local files by the TV is required, so in case of problems most of the responsibility will be with the TV (probably too old to read the current multimedia streams) .
DLNA currently cannot be used to send the full screen of the PC since Windows 10 only allows Miracast to be used to send the signal, but we can still use this technology to send the videos saved on the hard disk.
Chromecast alternatives to watch web content on TV