One of the features I love to see most in smartphones and tablets is HDMI. It opens up so many possibilities by allowing you to connect your tablet to a big-screen TV and share it with those around you, without them having to gather around and look over your shoulder.
If you have a fine collection of videos stored anywhere on your home network, you can play these on your iPad using one free app from the App Store. You can even view them on your big-screen TV.
Apple’s iOS is loosely related to Google Android and both can talk to Windows computers using what’s known as CIFS (Common Internet File System) protocols. The iPad lacks an app that enables it to talk CIFS with Windows over your home network and that’s where FileExplorer Free comes in. There’s a paid version ($2.99), but the free version does the job — the only limitation for us is that you can only connect to one computer at a time and only MP4 videos are supported.
The paid version supports multiple PC connections and a wider range of video formats including AVI, MKV and WMV. If you’re happy to play just MP4 videos, the free version is all you need. To get those videos on your big-screen TV, you need Apple’s Digital AV Adapter cable, which turns the dock connector into an HDMI output. It’ll cost $45, but combined with our step-by-step guide below, it’ll turn your iPad into a wireless TV video player.
Install FileExplorer Free on your iPad and Windows PC, then share your PC’s video collection folder. Right-click on the folder and select ‘Share with Specific people’ from the context menu. Click on the empty box, select ‘Guest’, click the ‘Add’ button and then ‘Share’.
On your iPad, launch FileExplorer Free and click the right arrow next to the ‘Add New Computer’ entry on the left-hand menu. The new menu will come up and you should see your available Windows PCs appear in the ‘Network Neighborhood’ panel. Click on the one with your videos.
Next, you’ll be asked to register, so choose ‘Guest’. Within a few seconds, it’ll likely come back saying ‘Permission denied’. Don’t panic — just click ‘OK’ on the alert box.
Navigate through the available folders to your movie collection and tap on one of the files. It should begin playing if it’s a supported file format.
Hook up the Digital AV Adapter cable to your TV. Click the full-screen icon in the bottom-right of the video on the iPad and your video should go full-screen. Enjoy the show!