Stream movies to your TV from your Android smartphone

For when your smartphone screen just isn't big enough for an epic movie

Many of us now rip and store our favourite videos and movies on computer storage rather than just buying up more DVDs or Blu-ray discs.

Whether we're storing them on a desktop computer or network-attached storage (NAS) device, we're increasingly creating vast video libraries that are sitting connected to our home Wi-Fi networks.

The conventional way of getting your video library onto your big-screen TV typically involves a network media player, which can hunt around your network, locate your storage, find the movie library and in some cases, even catalogue everything for you.

For instance, my own setup features a Western Digital WD TV Live player hooked up to my TV with a dongle that connects it to my Wi-Fi network.

The WD TV player finds movies on my computer and is able to stream them to my TV. I select the movies I want to stream via the remote control that comes with the WD TV.

But there's an easier way to stream movies to your TV using your smartphone: install the free Skifta app on Android your phone and you can stream movies stored on your phone itself.

Skifta is a network media player app that supports the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard, which allows separate devices connected to a Wi-Fi network to recognise and stream content between each other.

You can stream from your phone over Wi-Fi to a TV if it's DLNA enabled (most late model HD TVs are).

So if you want to watch that amazing video you captured while on the bus on your TV, install Skifta on your phone and the app will then recognise your DLNA-enabled TV on your Wi-Fi network.

Tell the app to make the phone the server and the TV the player, and Bob's your uncle — your video will stream from your phone to your TV.

If your TV isn't DLNA enabled, you can still stream to it from your phone by using a media player like the WD TV Live.

The WD TV Live sits on the Wi-Fi network to receive the streaming content from your phone and gets it to the TV via a direct cable link.

It means the TV doesn't have to be on the Wi-Fi network or be DLNA enabled to receive the stream.

You can also use your smartphone as a remote to stream movies from your DLNA-enabled media player or computer to your non-DLNA TV.

In my case, using Skifta I can tell my desktop computer to start streaming movies from its hard drive to my WDTV Live player, all from my Android phone.

Instead of using the slow WDTV Live remote, I can flick through my movie list much faster and more conveniently on my smartphone.

But it's not just network media players that support DLNA — if you have a PS3, Xbox 360 or smart TV, you also have a DLNA-ready media player you can stream content to, again controlled by your smartphone and the Skifta app.

Which Android phone can I use?

In this example you're not actually playing the video with your phone, so you can use any Android smartphone with built-in Wi-Fi networking (at least Android 2.2) and it should work.

It doesn't matter if you're using an old HTC Wildfire or the latest Samsung Galaxy Note II — since Skifta is directing your DLNA-ready TV or media player to play your files, your smartphone is little more than a glorified remote control, albeit one with a touchscreen.

This makes it much easier to search through your library for the movie you want.

Tags