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Issue #671: May 31 – Jun 6, 2020

Q: During the COVID 19 stay-at-home period, we have enjoyed the many free online entertainment services such as the Met Opera nightly streaming videos, similar BroadwayHD musicals, etc., but all efforts to make wireless Screen Mirroring/Miracast work using my laptop have proved futile. I have to revert to a 15′ HDMI cable strung along the floor to view the videos on the big screen of my Sony Bravia 4K TV. Running Network setup on the TV, my laptop is recognized by name as being “screen mirroring” capable. I have set up internet on 2.4 rather than 5.0 as required, and complied as best I can with all other requirements. Attempting to do it wirelessly, I select “screen mirroring” as the input to my TV, click on the icon at the extreme lower right corner of my laptop screen then select “connect” and initially connect successfully to the video but then it drops off after less than a minute of viewing. The TV screen goes black with a diagnostic “Cannot connect with device”. I then have to revert to either using my iPhone/Apple TV or the 15′ HDMI cable in a “wired” configuration rather than my laptop Lenovo in a wireless “screen mirroring” configuration. Can you help?

 – Roland G.
Destin, Florida

A:  I can explain what’s going on, but whether that’s a help will be for you to say.  Let’s start by clarifying some terminology.  There are several methods of displaying content from a computer screen on a TV.  They go by many different names, and are not compatible with one another.  In looking at this as a generic topic, you’ll find terms like Screen Mirroring, Wi-Fi Direct, Cast to device, Miracast, AirPlay, ChromeCast and probably others.  You need to make sure you’re using the same technology on both ends to achieve success.

Let’s start with your TV.  This is an easy one for me, since I also happen to own a Sony Bravia.  Allow me to cite from a pop-up box from my own set, under the “Screen Mirroring” setup: “Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as smartphones and tablets, that support Miracast can be used to enjoy Screen mirroring on your BRAVIA TV.  Refer to the instruction manual of your Wi-Fi device to find out if it supports Miracast.  BRAVIA TV complies with the Miracast specification, but does not guarantee a successful connection with all devices.”  So, per the TV’s own help screens, it wants devices that support Miracast.  The Bravia is an Android device, so it also has built-in support for Google Cast, also known as ChromeCast.

Now for some bad news.  The model of computer that you cited to me does not support Miracast.  Yes, I know your TV detected it when you tried to do the setup.  You’ll find the opposite is also true.  When you go to Devices in the Windows Setup, and click “Add Device” it will detect your TV without an issue.  However, as surprising as it may sound, that does not mean you will have the ability to treat your TV as an external wireless monitor to your laptop.  What it does mean is that you have the ability to cast media files from the computer to the TV by right-clicking on one and selecting “Cast to Device”.  There are also a few rare cases where you can stream Internet media (such as YouTube clips) but probably not the media you cited in your question.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of luck.  Your Bravia is, after all, a Smart TV.  I did a little looking and discovered that there is a Met Opera on Demand app that is very likely compatible with your TV.  If not, it definitely works with your Apple TV.  BroadwayHD is available through Amazon, and your TV also has an available Amazon app.

As you can see, there is a large amount of untapped potential built right in to your Smart TV.  Look for the Google Play Store in the menus, and you’ll find that your TV is more of a computer than you ever suspected.  Once you begin poking around in the available apps, you’ll find that you can also load a basic web browser, which will allow you to visit websites for media that doesn’t have dedicated apps. 

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