How to Connect a Nintendo Switch to a TV | Digital Trends

How to Connect a Nintendo Switch to a TV | Digital Trends

Released in 2017, Nintendo Switch is still as popular today as it was years ago. The hybrid handheld console has seen dozens of high-profile game throughout its lifespan, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Part of what makes the device so compelling is the ability to play in both handheld or docked mode — allowing you to project your game onto the big screen when you get home from work or school.

It might seem complicated, but connecting your Nintendo Switch to a TV is simple. It takes just a few moments to set up its dock and get back to gaming, though there are a few caveats to be aware of before starting the process.


Image courtesy of Amazon.com / Nintendo

Setting up the Nintendo Switch

For those who are new to the system, every purchase of the Nintendo Switch not only includes the Switch itself but also a Switch dock. This dock will be key in putting your system together for the TV. The first thing you’re going to want to do is take out the dock and all the cords. Make sure that you have the dock, an HDMI cord, and a power cord for the system. If all three are present, you’re good to start!

Step 1: Begin by opening the back of the docking system. This will give you access to where all the cords are going to go. Additionally, you’ll notice there is a space for the cords to lead out from. The back of the Switch should have three outlets. From top to bottom, they are the AC adapter, USB, and HDMI out. You’ll only need the AC adapter and the HDMI out to hook the system up.

Step 2: Take one end of the HDMI cable and insert it into the bottom terminal, aptly named HDMI out. Then connect the other end of the HDMI port to the TV or monitor of your choosing.

Step 3: Take the AC adapter (which should be model No. HAC-002) and put it inside the dock labeled AC adapter. Then connect the other end of the AC adapter into a wall outlet.

Step 4: You can now go ahead and close the back of the switch. Remember to keep an eye on where the cords feed out to ensure you don’t actually damage the cords. Both cords should fit through the space without any problems.

Step 5: Now the dock is all set up! You’ll just have to put the console into the dock to get rolling. When placing the console into the dock, ensure that the LCD screen faces the same direction as the face of the dock. The LCD screen of the Switch will turn off once it’s perfectly docked.

Step 6: All you’ll have to do from here is turn the TV and Switch on, set the TV to the correct HDMI, and your Switch should be ready to go!

The Switch adapter from Battony.

Battony

How to connect your Nintendo Switch to a TV without a dock

If your dock happens to break, you can still use your Nintendo Switch on the big screen. Before getting started, you’ll need to buy a USB-C to HDMI adapter that has both USB-C and HDMI ports. This will essentially replace the original dock and serve to get your Switch communicating with your TV.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to get your Nintendo Switch connected to your TV without a dock.

Step 1: Remove the USB-C power cable and HDMI cables from the original Switch dock.

Step 2: Insert the USB-C cable and HDMI cables into the adapter you’ve purchased.

Step 3: Connect the USB-C adapter to your Switch.

Step 4: As long as you’ve selected the right input on your TV, you should now be able to play Switch on your TV without a dock.

Step 5: Note that this method will not work with Switch Lite. Also, be careful about overheating your Switch — try propping the unit upright to keep its vents accessible and open to airflow.

An image of the Nintendo Switch - OLED Model Mario Red Edition.

Nintendo

Small notes

There are a few things that you should keep in mind as you’re hooking your system up. The first, and one of the most important, is to always handle the console with care. Although the Switch is a durable gaming system, that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to damage. Set the console into the dock gently in order to avoid scratches or damages, which is a problem a few players have reported. It may also behoove you to pick up a screen protector for the system to ensure that docking the Switch doesn’t do more damage than good.

Also, in order to play the Switch, you’ll need to have both of the Joy-Cons in your hands. You can either remove the Joy-Cons before docking the Switch or after. However, keep in mind that if the Joy-Cons haven’t been attached to the console before this moment in time, you’ll need to register them before playing. It’s similar to how the Wii would need the Wiimotes synced with the system before use.

Finally, after every Switch session, it may be helpful to you if you unplug the Joy-Cons and put them back onto the docked Switch. The Joy-Cons will drain the battery while unplugged from the console, so leaving them out overnight could risk the Joy-Cons being drained of battery. Try to make a habit of putting the Joy-Cons back onto the docked console to ensure they’re being charged while you’re not playing. Nothing is worse than a controller dying as you’re facing off with Ganondorf, so be sure to stay in the battle with powered Joy-Cons!

Editors’ Recommendations






Kanto Ren active speakers with HDMI take aim at your TV room | Digital Trends

Kanto Ren active speakers with HDMI take aim at your TV room | Digital Trends

Kanto Audio

The Canucks at Kanto Audio are at it again, announcing the addition of another new set of powered speakers to its lineup. The Kanto Ren are a 100-watt pair of active speakers that, in a first for the company, offer HDMI ARC connectivity.

After unleashing its new Ora Desktop reference speakers a few months back and then announcing their cousin, the Ora4, at CES 2024 last month, the Canadian speaker maker has set its sights on TV connectivity with the Ren, a $600 set of compact powered speakers that can be connected to your TV with HDMI ARC and be controlled with an included remote or with your TV’s remote, with the help of CEC. The new connectivity makes the Kanto REN an intriguing soundbar alternative.

But, of course, that’s not all the Kanto Rens can do. In line with its other speakers, the powered bookshelf speakers offer all kinds of connectivity options, including Bluetooth 5.3 that supports SBC and AAC codecs, as well as USB-C and optical inputs that can support a resolution of up to 24-bit/96kHz for high-resolution playback from sources such as computers, digital audio players, network streamers, smartphones, and more.

The back and inputs of the Kanto Audio REN powered speaker.
Kanto Audio

For the more analog inclined, the Kanto Ren also have RCA line-in and a 3.5mm input for connecting things like turntables, DVD players, and other devices (you will need a turntable with a built-in preamp or an external phono stage, though). The REN also features a dedicated subwoofer output for adding extra bass to the proceedings, and if the aforementioned Ora review is any indication, that extra bass will be just booming.

Driving the Kanto REN speakers is 100-watts of Class D amplification with 200 watts of peak power to the speaker’s 1-inch silk dome tweeters and 5.25-inch mid-woofers. Kanto says the speakers will deliver “clear highs, detailed midrange, and impressively powerful bass.” They’ll also feature a couple of sound modes for TV watching — Vocal Boost for lifting dialogue,and Night Mode that will balance out any peaks and lows in the audio volume so as to not wake your household up when there’s an explosion in the action movie you’re watching.

With six colors — black, white, cream, green, brown, and orange — the Kanto Ren powered speakers will retail for $600 and be available in July. If you happen to be in Bristol, England, this weekend however, ,you can check them out at the Bristol Hi-Fi Show.

Editors’ Recommendations






Wiim Amp review: your favorite speakers’ new best friend | Digital Trends

Wiim Amp review: your favorite speakers’ new best friend | Digital Trends

Look out, Sonos. The Wiim Amp is your favorite speakers’ new best friend

MSRP $299.00

“Look out, Sonos. The Wiim Amp is an unbeatable integrated amp/network media streamer value.”

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Sleek, minimal design
  • Easy setup
  • Excellent app support
  • Vibrant, powerful, and engaging sound
  • 2-way Bluetooth and AirPlay
  • Chromecast built-in

Cons

  • No track controls on unit
  • No IR remote support or headphone output
  • No Dolby Digital/Atmos or DTS

The $299 Wiim Amp is an audio Swiss army knife. It can act as a multisource integrated amplifier, a wireless streaming music player, an Amazon Alexa smart speaker, and even a companion for your TV. Attach a decent set of passive speakers (and possibly a subwoofer) and you’ve got a sleek and compact sound system that pretty much does it all.

I’ve just wrapped up a three-week evaluation of it, and I couldn’t be more impressed. Even if you already have an integrated amp or receiver, you may want to consider swapping it for the Wiim Amp. Here’s why.

Is it a Sonos clone?

Wiim Amp and Sonos Amp (overhead view).
Wiim Amp (left) and Sonos Amp. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Let’s address one very important thing right off the bat. Though Wiim, which is owned by LinkPlay, is still a newcomer to the home audio scene, it has been getting a ton of attention thanks to the company’s strategy of taking the best features of Sonos’ devices and selling them for far less.

My first experience with this was the Wiim Pro, a network streaming music player that you could argue is a $149 Sonos Port clone.

It’s not just the hardware — on some of its screens, Wiim’s mobile app is a dead ringer for the Sonos app.

But while the Wiim Pro made a highly effective argument that you don’t need to spend Sonos Port money to get Sonos Port features, when it comes to the Wiim Amp and its closest Sonos competitor, the $699 Sonos Amp, it’s not quite apples to apples. I’ll discuss the differences throughout this review.

What’s in the box?

Wiim Amp with accessories.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Wiim ships the Amp with a power cord, an HDMI cable, an optical cable, a stereo RCA cable, and a Bluetooth voice remote. Be warned though: Wiim has bucked the decades-long trend of including batteries, so you’ll have to supply your own set of AAA cells.

The only other things you’ll need (assuming you already have speaker cable to go with your passive speakers) are an Ethernet cable (this is optional — most folks will use the built-in Wi-Fi) and an RCA coaxial cable if you intend on connecting a powered subwoofer.

Designed in Cupertino?

Wiim Amp.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Like many other tech companies, Wiim has taken its design inspiration for the Amp from Apple. The device is wrapped in an aluminum skin, in your choice of Apple’s two favorite colors: silver or space gray.

The result is a component that looks terrific — our space gray evaluation unit would complement even the most elegant and contemporary decor.

It’s a smart decision on Wiim’s part. As much as I like the Wiim Pro, its black plastic enclosure looks and feels a little cheap. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s nothing like the Amp’s premium aesthetics. From a functionality standpoint, there’s no reason why you can’t tuck the Wiim Amp away in a console or cupboard — all of its functions can be accessed via the Wiim app or the included Bluetooth remote. But with looks like this, it deserves to be visible.

The integrated volume/play/pause control on the front panel is the one design choice that feels a little less thoughtful.

Close up of Wiim Amp next to a speaker.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

It’s a great size and shape, and the rotating ring has pleasingly indexed notched clicks in its spin. But the central button spins too, causing the “play” triangle to point in a variety of directions as you change the volume, instead of remaining in the normal right-pointing orientation.

Admittedly, I’m nitpicking, but my eye keeps wanting to straighten it out — which it refuses to let me do.

One critique that feels less nitpicky: there’s no way to track-skip forward or backward using the central button. It’s a strange omission since the Sonos Amp gives you this capability.

Right beside the big knob is a six-LED volume scale, a nice touch on a product that effectively replaces a receiver or amp, and it’s something the Sonos Amp lacks. You can leave it lit while the power is on, or it can fade to black a few seconds after your last volume change.

Finally, a single LED on the left side acts as a power/mode indicator. Depending on what it’s trying to tell you, it will glow or flash white, green, or red to indicate source, wireless connection states, or if something’s gone amiss.

One small caveat for home theater people: The Wiim Amp doesn’t have an infrared receiver. So if you decide to connect it to your TV via analog or optical instead of HDMI, you’ll need to keep the included remote (or the app) handy for volume and muting since your TV’s remote won’t be able to control it.

Ports galore

Wiim Amp back panel.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Around the back are the physical inputs and outputs. And they are plentiful: HDMI ARC, optical in, analog line-in, USB-A, and Ethernet. I would have also welcomed a digital USB input for PC audio, but alas, no such luck. (The USB-A port is strictly for access to storage devices.) Wireless inputs are just as generous: Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, Chromecast, and Amazon Alexa Cast. In fact, I was able to mostly get around the lack of a PC input by sending my Mac’s audio output to the Wiim Amp using AirPlay.

The outputs are more restrictive, limited to a set of stereo speaker 5-way binding posts and a subwoofer out. The one big omission here is the lack of a headphone output.

As with the Sonos Amp, you can’t use the Wiim Amp as a networked music streamer for existing amps/receivers. If you want to do that, Wiim’s Mini, Wiim Pro, and Wiim Pro Plus are better choices.

The Amp does have wireless outputs, however. It can be used as a source for both Bluetooth and AirPlay streaming. This gives the Amp the intriguing ability to send audio to other wireless speakers and headphones.

The optical and HDMI ARC input require little thought — just attach a TV, CD player, Blu-ray player, or any other compatible digital source. You can use a turntable, too (with the analog line-in jacks), but keep in mind that your turntable must have a built-in phono preamp. Otherwise, you’ll need an external unit. It’s also worth noting that the Amp doesn’t offer a direct analog connection between input and amplification. All analog audio is converted to digital before being converted back to analog.

Like most receivers with an HDMI ARC input, the Wiim Amp can take commands (including power on/off) from your TV if the TV is configured with HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control). If this is your main listening scenario, you may never need to reach for the Amp’s remote.

Installation and setup

Wiim Amp speaker terminals close-up.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Word to the wise: before you plug the Wiim Amp into power, you’re going to want to connect your speakers. That’s good advice in general, but with the Wiim Amp, you should consider it gospel. Unlike most integrated amps or receivers with physical power buttons, plugging in the Wiim is the same as turning it on.

And while the likelihood of disaster is small, it’s not worth risking damage to your speakers or the Amp by causing an accidental short in the wiring.

How you connect your speakers is up to you. The 5-way binding posts accept almost any method including banana plugs and bare wires. Since it’s possible (though not an official feature) to run two sets of 8-ohm speakers (4 speakers in total), it’s nice to be able to run one set via banana plugs and another set as bare wire — the Sonos Amp can only handle one of these connections at a time.

Once you’re powered up, the free Wiim app (iOS/Android/macOS/Windows) walks you through the remainder of the setup process, which takes no time at all. It automatically grabs your network settings from your phone, offers you the ability to rename the Amp from its default network ID, pairs with the included Bluetooth remote, and finishes by walking you through the optional AirPlay, Chromecast, and Amazon Alexa setups.

At this point, you’re ready to rock. You can add your streaming service subscriptions to avail yourself of the app’s impressive feature set (including my favorite Sonos feature, universal search), or you can treat the app as just a settings interface for the Wiim Amp and do all of your streaming from third-party apps thanks to AirPlay, Chromecast, and Bluetooth.

Impressive sound quality

Wiim Amp between speakers.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Considering the Wiim Amp’s power specs (60 watts per channel at 8 ohms or 120 watts at 4 ohms), it can theoretically drive a wide variety of passive speakers — even low-impedance models. Its sweet spot, however, is a set of 8-ohm bookshelf speakers.

Given a choice, I’d have loved to put the Amp through its paces with a set of KEF Q150 or Bowers & Wilkins 607 S3 speakers. But, sadly, I was working with what I had on hand.

For my tests, I used two setups. First, I used a single pair of Energy CB5 bookshelf speakers to get a sense of the Wiim Amp’s overall performance. Then I put the Amp side by side with a Sonos Amp and connected them to matching sets of Energy Take 5.2HB1 satellite speakers. These are not the speakers I’d recommend for either Amp, but my goal was to compare apples to apples by rapidly switching back-and-forth between devices.

In both cases, I listened with and without an Energy S8.2 wired subwoofer.

Wiim Amp between speakers (overhead view).
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If there are any performance issues with the Wiim Amp, these tests did not reveal them. Using multiple sources like Tidal, Amazon Music, and Qobuz from the Wiim app, plus Apple Music via AirPlay, I threw a huge range of genres at it, from jazz to rap. I listened to all of my favorite test tracks, like Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car and Billie Eilish’s bad guy, and the Wiim Amp held its own.

It’s clear and articulate, and it reminded me why my Energy speakers were praised for their sound when I bought them almost 22 years ago. I played it as loud as I dared (about 85%) and couldn’t detect any distortion.

TV sound through the HDMI port was just as enjoyable, without any perceptible lag. While it’s true that the Wiim can’t process Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS, or Dolby Atmos signals (you’ll need to set your TV to output PCM), its 2.1 presentation sounds surprisingly immersive, and dialogue clarity proved to be an unexpected highlight.

From an EQ perspective, the factory tuning felt a little harsh in the high frequencies — especially when I compared it to the Sonos Amp’s much warmer bias. But if you know your way around an equalizer (with your choice of graphic or parametric interfaces), the enormous number of available settings should get things dialed in just the way you want them. When you’re happy, you can save as many settings as you need. And if that’s way too much fuss? I’m guessing the generous selection of EQ presets will get you most of the way there.

That’s something the Sonos Amp doesn’t offer. Its only tone controls are separate bass and treble sliders.

Wiim Amp and Sonos Amp (stacked view).
Wiim Amp (top) and Sonos Amp Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

As you might expect, connecting the wired sub vastly improved the sound. Bookshelf speakers aren’t renowned for their low end, and the satellites definitely needed the extra help. Curiously, the Sonos Amp is somewhat restrictive in terms of selectable crossover frequencies — with a range of 50Hz to 110Hz — while the Wiim gives you access to an enormous range of 30Hz to 250Hz. For most speakers, Sonos’ range will suffice, but my little Energy satellites are happiest when they can pass along frequencies under 120Hz — just a hair outside of the Sonos Amp’s range.

Where Sonos will inevitably prove more versatile is its power. Rated at 125 watts per channel at 8 ohms and 250 watts at 4 ohms, you’ll be able to exploit your speakers’ capabilities more effectively. You’ll also have more range when dealing with the uneven levels of different sources. Playing The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power from the built-in Amazon Prime app on my LG TV, I had to set the Wiim’s output at almost 90% to achieve the same volume that the Sonos delivered at 60%.

Though neither Wiim nor Sonos recommends larger-than-bookshelf-size speakers, the Sonos Amp will be the better choice if you’re determined to try it.

The Wiim app and streaming options

It’s hard to beat Sonos when it comes to the power and functionality of its software. In the world of multiroom wireless audio, it’s still the leader. And yet, Wiim has done such a good job of reproducing Sonos’ key strengths that you have to look hard to find the areas where Sonos remains ahead.

For major activities like finding and playing music, controlling playback, grouping and ungrouping devices throughout your home, and saving your favorite tracks, albums, or playlists for easy access, Wiim and Sonos are neck and neck. Wiim has even built its own universal search, letting you see matching music from your subscription services and your personal music catalog in a single set of results — a skill that had been a Sonos exclusive for years.

But if you’re extremely picky about maximizing sound quality, Wiim’s platform is technically superior. It can decode lossless digital audio at up to 24-bit/192kHz, and it’s compatible with the MQA format. It’s not that Sonos’ 24-bit/48kHz maximum is bad. It’s just that if you have access to higher sampling rate files — for example, Qobuz, Amazon Music, or Apple Music hi-res audio, (or MQA via Tidal) — it’s reasonable to want a device that lets you hear all of that extra detail — even if most humans probably can’t hear a difference at all. Like Sonos, it works with Roon, but sadly, DSD fans will have to look elsewhere — it’s the one hi-res format Wiim doesn’t support.

Wiim Amp and Sonos Amp back panels (stacked view).
Wiim Amp (top) and Sonos Amp Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sonos still has an edge when it comes to the number of streaming services it supports natively inside its app. Its catalog of compatible services is massive. Even tiny services for niche audiences like , which caters to listeners of reformed Christian music, can be integrated into the Sonos app.

But its most important inclusions are Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music. So far, Sonos is the only company other than Apple itself that offers direct Apple Music integration into its wireless audio products.

The absence of those three services notwithstanding, Wiim has most of the music services people want, including Amazon Music, Deezer, Napster, Pandora, Qobuz, Radio Paradise, Tidal, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.

And when it comes to Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music, there are still plenty of ways to access them outside of the Wiim app. All three can be streamed to the Wiim Amp over Bluetooth, AirPlay, or Chromecast (depending on your phone’s options), and the Amp is also Spotify Connect-compatible for direct streaming from within the Spotify app.

Speaking of streaming over wireless connections, the Wiim Amp is astonishingly flexible. Normally, protocols like Bluetooth and AirPlay tend to be one-way. We use them to stream from our phones to our wireless speakers. The Wiim Amp, however, can act as both a receiver and a sender, which opens up all kinds of possibilities.

For instance, if you own any AirPlay-compatible speakers (including Sonos speakers made since 2017), you can output the Amp’s audio to them — on a speaker-by-speaker basis. That’s a clever way for Android users to get around the absence of AirPlay on their phones. It’s also a handy way to send the audio from the Amp’s three inputs (optical, line-in, and HDMI) to other speakers in your home.

But perhaps more relevant is the ability to pair a set of Bluetooth headphones. If your TV (or streaming video player) doesn’t support this feature, it’s a good way to do private listening when you don’t want to disturb the rest of your household with your 2 a.m. John Wick marathon.

The one caveat: You can set the Wiim Amp to output sound wirelessly or via the speaker terminals, but not both simultaneously.

For all its strengths, this is one area where the Sonos Amp feels decidedly limited. The only way to stream to it wirelessly is via the Sonos app or Apple AirPlay, and it has no streaming outputs (except to other Sonos products).

Voice remote, other options, and final thoughts

Wiim Amp with remote.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

By now, I’m sure you’ve figured out that I’m a fan of the Wiim Amp. Still, there’s more to be said in favor of this all-in-one streaming box. Take the included Bluetooth remote, for instance. It’s easy to overlook because most folks will use the Wiim app to interact with the Amp.

And yet, it not only turns the Amp into a full-fledged Amazon Alexa smart speaker, but it also gives everyone in the house (and visitors too) an easy, familiar, and app-free way to control important functions like volume, muting, playback, and source selection, including access to the first four of 12 available presets. That’s a lot of extra value that the Sonos Amp can’t match.

The Sonos Amp is the obvious comparison to the Wiim Amp, but it’s not the only competition. If you’re curious about your other choices, these are the main contenders.

Denon HEOS Amplifier HS2 ($499)

  • Class D, 70 watts per channel (8 ohms)
  • Supports DSD
  • No HDMI input
  • No AirPlay, Bluetooth, or Chromecast
  • No remote control
  • HEOS app isn’t as full-featured for streaming

Bose Music Amplifier ($699)

  • Class D, 125 watts per channel (8 ohms)
  • AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Chromecast
  • Connects to Bose headphones via Bluetooth
  • No remote control
  • No HDMI input
  • Only compatible with Bose wired subwoofers
  • Limited in-app music services
  • Limited support for hi-res audio formats
  • No external controls

Bluesound Powernode ($949)

  • Class D, 80 watts per channel (8 ohms)
  • HDMI ARC/eARC
  • Wired and wireless headphone connections
  • Two versatile optical/analog combo inputs
  • Full touch controls
  • 2-way Bluetooth aptX HD, Apple AirPlay
  • IR-compatible
  • Full hi-res support including MQA (no DSD)
  • Very good app control with plenty of compatible music services
  • No Chromecast

As you can see, they’re all more expensive than the Wiim Amp, and that extra investment doesn’t always mean more or better features and performance. For its price, the Wiim Amp provides an unbeatable value and demonstrates that LinkPlay’s success with its first Wiim products wasn’t just a fluke.

I’m seriously looking forward to seeing the brand’s evolution into wireless speakers. It hasn’t announced anything on that front, but if it’s current trajectory is anything to go by, it’s the next logical step. When that happens, it will be fascinating to see if Wiim can once again offer a Sonos-like experience for less.

Editors’ Recommendations






How to Use (Almost) Any Camera as a Webcam for Zoom and More | Digital Trends

How to Use (Almost) Any Camera as a Webcam for Zoom and More | Digital Trends

Cameras, even those in phones, brag about megapixels and lens specifications — but laptops? Not so much. There’s a reason computer companies don’t say much about the webcams that come built into the bezels of their screens. Most of these cameras are low-quality, with tiny sensors and cheap lenses. Sure, they work for basic videoconferencing, but they aren’t very impressive and certainly leave us wanting something more.

While you could just buy a stand-alone webcam that connects over USB, to really take production value up a notch, you can opt for a DSLR or mirrorless camera. You’ll need a few workarounds to get this type of camera to be recognized as a webcam by your computer, but the trouble is worth it for the higher resolution, much better low-light performance, and cinematic background blur.

To accomplish this, you’ll need some specific hardware and/or software to get your camera and computer to play nice. Fortunately, with the right tools, using your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam is a straightforward procedure. With major camera manufacturers like Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Olympus, and GoPro recently building a webcam option into their software, the odds are now pretty good that you can modify your current camera to use as a webcam, for free.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The hardware solution

Most computers cannot natively read the video coming from a camera’s HDMI output. If your computer has an HDMI port, it is likely itself an output port. And while cameras have USB ports, they generally do not send a clean video signal through them. One exception to this, however, could be your Android phone. (Check out our guide to connecting your Android 14 as a webcam guide for more information if you want to go down that route.)

You’ll need a device that converts your camera’s HDMI feed to a USB output that your computer will think is a connected webcam. The beauty of this setup is that you can generally use any HDMI source as the input, from a camera to a game console to another computer, and the output can be used however you’d like, from video conferencing to livestreaming or recording.

The quality of the video that your computer receives is limited by the device. Even if you have a camera that can shoot 4K video, the USB adapter may only support 1080p output. Given that most livestreams and videoconferences are reduced to 1080p (or even 720p) anyway, this probably isn’t a huge concern.

There are a number of different products for achieving this. Some of the top-ranked ones include:

  • Elgato Cam Link 4K
  • MiraBox Capture Card
  • Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini

The last one on this list is actually a four-input HDMI switcher. It allows you to connect multiple cameras or other HDMI inputs and select which one to output to your computer, which will see it as a simple webcam. This allows for advanced livestreaming setups with different angles, sharing a screen from a tablet or phone, or even printed material via an HDMI document camera. Sure, you don’t need that for your average Zoom meeting, but the ATEM Mini has much more flexibility than a simple HDMI to USB adapter — and it’s not even that expensive.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The next step is to make sure your camera is outputting a “clean” signal, called a clean HDMI output. Otherwise, you’ll stream everything you see on the camera screen, including the user interface overlays, like exposure settings and focus indicators. Each camera’s menu settings will be different, but look for an option for “output display” or “HDMI info display.” Consult your camera’s user manual if you can’t find those settings.

Note that while clean HDMI output has become a more popular feature, it is still not found on every camera and is typically reserved for midrange and high-end models.

Next, set your focus. If your camera has face-detection autofocus (or, better, eye detection), this is a great feature to turn on, as it will take all of the guesswork out of focusing. If your camera doesn’t have this feature, you can use standard continuous autofocus (C-AF), although this may not be reliable. You can also manually preset the focus, but you’ll need to make sure you don’t move during the video.

Finally, tell the video chat platform that you want to use a camera besides the built-in webcam by going to the settings inside the web conferencing app and switching to the camera you connected. (Here’s how to change the camera in Zoom and Skype).

The software solution

Some software programs can grab the video feed from a camera that’s plugged directly into the USB port without bothering with HDMI at all. These software solutions are less universal than video cards, however. Third-party software is available, but as 2020 made working from home a necessity for many, several manufacturers launched their own native solutions. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Olympus, and GoPro are all integrating a webcam feature into native (and free) software. Most of these programs are recently launched beta options but provide users a way to use their camera as a webcam without buying any additional accessories.

Whether you use manufacturer software or third-party software, you will need the USB cable that came with your camera. Cameras should also have a full battery, while long live-streams may require an AC adapter to keep the camera fully juiced. Unlike using HDMI, USB doesn’t provide access to the camera’s microphone, so these software tools will still require you to use your computer’s built-in mic or an external one (plugged into the computer, not the camera). A safe place to mount your camera, like a tripod, is ideal. And while not required, you’ll also get better results with a video light and an external microphone.

Exact set-up depends on the software that you’re using, but, in general, you’ll connect the camera to your computer using the USB (make sure that the camera is powered on). You’ll need to launch the webcam utility software and follow any steps there, and inside the app you plan to livestream with, you’ll need to go into the settings and choose your camera instead of the default built-in webcam. Just like using an HDMI video capture device, you will still need to set the focus on your camera. If your camera has face and eye detection, be sure to turn it on.

Sony

With Sony as the latest company to join the trend of webcam software, all the major camera companies now have a webcam option, at least in beta. Sony Imaging Edge Webcam is a Windows-only program that’s compatible with 35 different Sony cameras at launch including the latest A9, A7, A6000, RX100, and RX0 series cameras, as well as the new vlogging focused ZV1 and a handful of older generations and point-and-shoots. The program is available for download directly from Sony.

Canon

Now officially out of beta, the EOS Webcam Utility app lets you use one of more than 40 different Canon cameras as a webcam over USB for programs from Zoom and Skype to Messenger and YouTube Live. The program allows you to record while streaming, in case you want to save your end of that Zoom chat for later. Cameras with Movie Servo AF will support full-time autofocus while recording. Canon also has a number of webcam kits available, which bundles a compatible camera with a power cord. The MacOS version is still in public beta.

Nikon

Nikon recently launched the beta version of Nikon Webcam Utility. The Windows 10 software launched first, but now the company has a beta program for Mac users as well. The app works with Nikon Z cameras, as well as recent DSLRs, including the D6, D850, D780, D500, D7500, and D5600. The software allows compatible cameras to stream using just the USB cord that came with the camera, but also works with HDMI video capture devices.

Fujifilm

The Fujifilm X Webcam program, now in its second version, allows you to adjust a number of different camera settings when using one of the compatible cameras as a webcam, including using film simulation effects. The app, available for Windows and MacOS, works with several high-end Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, including the X-T2, X-T3, and X-T4, as well as all medium-format GFX models, and budget-friendly models in automatic mode only. The latest update to the software allows users to adjust the settings mid-recording, including exposure compensation and film simulation, from the computer. The X-A7 and X-T200 can also be used with the software with a firmware update, but have more limited features and are stuck in auto mode for streaming.

Panasonic

Panasonic Lumix Tether for streaming is a beta program that allows some Panasonic Lumix mirrorless cameras to be used as webcams on Windows. The program is similar to Panasonic’s earlier tethering program, but strips the overlays (such as focus boxes) from the image, giving a clean output suitable for use in videoconferencing.

Olympus

Olympus’ native webcam option is called OM-D Webcam. This beta software is compatible with Windows 10 and Mac (Mac OS 10.2, 10.3, and 10.4) and needs one of five more advanced OM-D cameras to work, including the E-M1X, E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III, and the E-M5 Mark II. After installing the software and connecting the camera, users can select the camera as a device option in their video conferencing software of choice.

GoPro

While an action camera won’t give you the background blur of using a mirrorless or DSLR, the GoPro HERO8 Black and HERO9 can also now be used as a wide-angle webcam. To adapt the action cam for webcam use, the HERO8 first needs to have updated beta firmware on the camera itself, while the new HERO9 is ready to go right out of the box. Then, install GoPro Webcam on your computer, and connect the GoPro with USB. The software is compatible with Mac OS, and a Windows version is now in beta testing.

The above programs are, of course, designed to only work with cameras made by their respective brands, and even then, some older or budget models may not be compatible.

Third-party options

There are also third-party options you can use, depending on your needs.

Using a DSLR camera as a webcam with SparkoCam

SparkoCam is a Windows program that allows Canon and Nikon DSLRs to work as webcams without any special hardware (check for full compatibility with your camera first). The program offers a free trial but starts at $50 to remove the large watermark. Unfortunately, it is not offered for Mac.

Using Ecamm Live to connect a camera to a Mac

Ecamm Live is a Mac option for live streaming that works with several camera brands. With tools including multi-camera switching, picture-in-picture, and screen sharing from a Mac or an iPhone, the software is a more advanced option for those taking their streaming a little more professionally. Once you finish streaming, Ecamm Live can save the video file to your hard drive. The save feature is handy in many different scenarios, especially for anyone who’s recording footage they plan to edit later on.

Other accessories you may need

Even though monitor mounts can be helpful, it’s likely that you won’t be able to connect your camera to your monitor without obstructing it directly. This means you’ll need a tripod. For video conferencing, we suggest using a compact tabletop tripod. One of our favorites is the Joby GorillaPod or Manfrotto Pixi variations. If you’re looking for more info on these two fabulous tripods, you can read more on our list of the best tripods.

When updating your video, you should examine your audio quality. You can easily enhance the overall quality of your vocals by employing an external USB mic. Improved audio will offer you limited echo effects and background sound, delivering a less distracting stream. Along with this, you also acquire the bonus perk of having some new contemporary streaming equipment. If this piques your interest, check out how Digital Trends producer Dan Baker set up his home office for live streaming.

Editors’ Recommendations






Can you play the Nintendo Switch Lite on a TV? | Digital Trends

Can you play the Nintendo Switch Lite on a TV? | Digital Trends

The Nintendo Switch Lite is the smaller, more affordable sibling of the standard Nintendo Switch. This makes it a great option for frugal shoppers, as it’s capable of playing all the same games yet carries a much friendlier price tag. However, the Switch Lite doesn’t share all the same features as the standard Switch. A big difference is that it won’t fit in a traditional Switch dock. That means you’ll need to pick up a third-party model if you want somewhere to store and charge your handheld while it’s not in use.

But can you play the Nintendo Switch Lite on a TV while it’s docked? And is it possible to play Switch Lite on a TV using an HDMI cable or other workaround? Here’s everything you need to know about the device.

Can you play the Nintendo Switch Lite on a TV?

Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

When you first examine the handheld Nintendo Switch Lite, you’ll notice that it has the same USB-C port as the traditional Nintendo Switch. Looking good so far, right?

A big misconception is that USB-C supports everything under the sun, including video output. However, it’s just an interface, and the only guaranteed technology is USB 3.2. There’s enough power delivery to use a mouse or some other peripheral, but everything else, from recharging a battery to video output, depends on the device manufacturer.

So, the simple answer is that the Switch Lite cannot output video to an external device. The USB-C port only supports USB 3.2 and power delivery.

For those wanting a more technical answer, though, here it is: The Switch Lite simply doesn’t have the hardware.

Nvidia’s custom Tegra chip inside the traditional Nintendo Switch is an all-in-one solution, combining CPU and GPU cores. As with any other computing device with a built-in screen, this chip uses the DisplayPort protocol to deliver uncompressed video to the console’s integrated display.

However, there’s also a chip on the motherboard — a bi-directional matrix switch — that routes USB 3.2, DisplayPort, and audio output through the USB-C port. According to the specifications, this chip can route a USB 3.2 signal only; two DisplayPort channels and a USB 3.2 lane; or four DisplayPort channels.

When you connect the Nintendo Switch to the dock, a chip within the latter receives the DisplayPort and audio feed and converts it all to HDMI using the older Mobility DisplayPort standard. This data is then sent to the dock’s HDMI out port.

Long story short, the bi-directional matrix switch installed in the traditional Nintendo Switch simply isn’t present in the Lite version. The lack of video output has nothing to do with software.

Can the Nintendo Switch Lite be docked?

Nintendo Switch Lite Docking Failure
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Yes, but not using the dock supplied with the traditional Nintendo Switch. Again, you must purchase third-party solutions designed to accommodate the Switch Lite’s smaller frame, if you want to take advantage of the many Nintendo Switch games that are more enjoyable to play when docked.

The photo shown above should visually explain why, but here are the dimensions of each (in inches):

Width Height Depth Actual Depth
Traditional Switch 9.4 4 0.55 1.12
Switch Lite 8.2 3.6 0.55 1.12
Switch dock 6.75 3.25 0.75 n/a

The problem here is width. Measure the distance from the inside of the Lite’s left thumbstick to the inside of the right thumbstick, and the result is 6.125 inches — far shorter than the width of Nintendo’s dock.

Because there is no removable Nintendo Switch controller, this model will never fit within the original Nintendo Switch dock without some serious hardware modifications to the latter, namely ripping 0.3125 inches of plastic off each side of the dock’s cradle. That just isn’t practical — not to mention ugly.

The only thing you can use is the standard Switch AC adapter.

For third-party docks designed specifically for the Switch Lite, the
Dual USB Playstand By HORI
is a great solution. Note that this dock also includes two extra USB-A ports so you can connect wired controllers, like Nintendo’s Pro Controller. This wired connection eliminates the latency associated with wireless controllers while gaming.

Even if you don’t want a dedicated dock, the USB-C port allows the console to connect to a USB hub with multiple ports. You can then pull out the console’s kickstand, connect a few wired controllers, pair a few additional Joy-Cons, and play in tabletop mode. Talk about a party!

Can you stream your Switch Lite to your TV?

No, there currently isn’t a way to wirelessly stream your Switch Lite to a TV. That means you’ll be stuck using the built-in display on your handheld. It’s best to think of Switch Lite as a traditional Nintendo handheld, instead of a hybrid console. The Switch Lite does not support any method that lets you easily get its screen replicated on an external display — whether you’re using wires or trying to stream it wirelessly. And despite the rise of cloud gaming and remote play, it doesn’t look like Nintendo has plans to offer the feature on Switch Lite. So, once again, you’re left playing on the Lite’s 5.5-inch display.

Can you play a Switch game on one and resume on the other?

Nintendo Switch Consoles Comparison
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Though you can’t play the Nintendo Switch Lite on your television, you can still play your games on the thinner version and then pick up where you left off on the larger docked model. All you need is an internet connection and a subscription to Nintendo’s paid membership service. This allows you to freely switch back and forth between any model registered to your Nintendo Account.

First, make sure you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription — it’s really cheap compared to Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus.

Next, ensure that automatic backups are enabled on your primary console. This sends your saved game data to the cloud. For instance, if you typically play on the Switch Lite, you want that saved data to synchronize with a docked Nintendo Switch.

To do so, follow this path: System Settings > Data Management > Save Data Cloud > (Select a User) > Backup Settings.

Make sure Automatic Save-Data Backup is toggled On.

The last step is ensuring that the user information on your Nintendo Switch Account matches your Switch Lite Account. Then backtrack to System Settings and toggle the Automatic Save-Data Backup option to On.

Your progress from the regular Switch will be synchronized and ready to go on the Switch Lite when you pick it up to play.

Unfortunately, cloud save doesn’t work on all Nintendo Switch games, so you can only use the service to back up certain ones. The list of incompatible titles might include some of your favorites, like Dark Souls Remastered, Fortnite, Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee / Pikachu, Pokemon Sword / Shield, and Splatoon 2. Check out Nintendo’s support page for the complete list of incompatible titles.

On the plus side, there are a ton of popular games, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Luigi’s Mansion 3, that do support cloud save. Other compatible favorites are BioShock Remastered, Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition, Minecraft Dungeons, The Outer Worlds, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. You can drop in and out of your games without worrying about losing your progress with these or any other cloud-save compatible titles.

Editors’ Recommendations






Best AV receivers 2024: top sound for your home theater | Digital Trends

Best AV receivers 2024: top sound for your home theater | Digital Trends

Soundbars are certainly an improvement over built-in TV speakers, but nothing beats a wired and calibrated surround sound system. And if you’re all about that cinematic audio, you’ll need a solid AV receiver to run the show.

AV receivers serve many functions, but the most important one is powering your home theater speakers. A receiver can also be used as a connection hub for all your AV components. That’s everything from streaming devices and Blu-ray players to game consoles. If you can connect it to your TV with an HDMI cable, it can connect to an AV receiver.

Not all receivers are created equal. For instance, some are more suited for music, while others are better for movies. This is why we’ve put together this list of the best AV receivers — to help you decide which models best suit your wants and needs.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Marantz SR8015

The best well-rounded AV receiver

Pros

  • Excellent features for music as well as movies
  • Supports up to 11.2 surround sound
  • Support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, HDR, and many other formats
  • 8K video support
  • 140W per channel

Cons

  • May be too much for those looking for something simpler

This is a pricey option, but Marantz made sure to improve upon past AV receivers by covering otherwise empty bases from prior models. The SR8015 is equipped with an array of AV technologies to make it fit in any home theater environment. Starting with all things audio, it’s got Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS:X Pro, IMAX Enhanced, Auro 3D, plus the ability to connect a turntable for some vinyl playback or to stream from the likes of Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and via AirPlay 2 devices, among others. You also get access to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, plus the ability to do multiroom setups through HEOS.

It’s compatible with hi-res audio files and lossless formats that go up to 24-bit/192 kHz, and you can stream them to the receiver from a USB or network storage drive. The 11.2 channel system can run in 7.2.4 or 9.2.2 configurations when using all the channels. You can also keep some free-to-play music in different zones, where you get up to two extra. There are 140 watts of output per channel, so Marantz built the SR8015 to handle just about any speaker arrangement you have in mind. The Audyssey MultEQ XT32 support only helps the cause further with its room-correction technology to compensate for acoustics inside.

On the video front, the SR8015 is no less capable. It brings in 8K video at 60Hz (including upscaling) to go with 4K/120Hz, HDR (HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dynamic HDR, Dolby Vision), and HDMI-eARC that lets you pass full resolution surround sound from your TV through to the receiver. There are 8 HDMI inputs, plus 3 outputs, including useful add-ons like a Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) to accommodate gamers who need them.

There’s a lot to work with here because Marantz left little to chance, and that bodes well for how long this receiver may last in the years to come.

Marantz SR8015

Marantz SR8015

The best well-rounded AV receiver

The Denon AVR-S770H.

Amazon

Denon AVR-S770H

The best all-rounder for digital and vinyl heads

Pros

  • Dedicated phono preamp
  • Six HDMI 2.1 inputs and 8K/60Hz eARC output
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Hi-res playback up to 24-bit/192kHz

Cons

  • No dedicated inputs for Zone 2
  • Not as powerful as higher-priced receivers

Analog components are experiencing a big resurgence. If you’re the proud owner of a record player, but you also have a ton of digital components to wire up, we recommend the Denon AVR-S770H. A 7.2 x 75 watts per channel setup, the S770H includes a dedicated phono preamp for connecting a turntable. That’s on top of six HDMI 2.1 inputs, an eARC output (up to 8K/60Hz), Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, along with Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.

When it comes to HDR and surround decoding, the S770H is one of the best options for less than $1,000. Supported formats include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, as well as HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision HDR. While Wi-Fi isn’t required, connecting the S770H to the internet will also give you access to several music-streaming platforms, including Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and SiriusXM. You’ll also be able to download the Denon HEOS app (for iOS and Android) to curate music, adjust receiver settings, and more.

If you’d like to add speakers to a second room of your home, the S770H can also be used as a dual-zone receiver. If you’re buying a receiver for Atmos or DTS:X, do keep in mind that the S770H uses either the Surround Back or height channels to power Zone 2. This means you won’t be able to run a full 7.1 configuration in Zone 1 (so no Atmos).

Last but not least, the S770H also supports hi-res music playback up to 24-bit/192kHz. While a higher-priced AV receiver will deliver even more ports and power, the Denon AVR-S770H offers a great combination of digital and analog connections for under $700.

Denon AVR-S770H 7.2-channel receiver

Denon AVR-S770H

The best all-rounder for digital and vinyl heads


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sony STR-DH590

The best budget AV receiver

Pros

  • Affordable without giving up important features
  • Pure Direct audio enhancement mode
  • HDR support
  • 4K support

Cons

  • Limited number of HDMI ports

When it comes to AV receivers, reducing your budget invariably means reducing the number of features. The key is to preserve as many of the features that most people value. The Sony STR-DH590 manages to do this in a stellar fashion by supporting all of the latest audio and video formats, including 4K and HDR (HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision). It also comes with its own acoustic calibration circuitry, which takes the guesswork out of setting up your speakers to the right levels.

For utmost audio fidelity, the DH590 is equipped with Sony’s Pure Direct mode for the cleanest sound the receiver has to offer. It does so by disabling the DH590’s front display panel, eliminating unnecessary component noise from escaping into the mix of whatever content you’re consuming. Keep in mind that engaging Pure Direct also bypasses several of the receiver’s internal equalizers. It’s a great feature for listening to music through analog sources, but if you’re a fan of big cinema sound, it’s probably something we’d leave alone when watching a movie.

Although the DH590 has Bluetooth for direct music streaming from a compatible smartphone or tablet, the receiver isn’t internet-connected, so you won’t be able to stream music without a Bluetooth device. That being said, Sony’s high-res audio support kicks in when you’re beaming tunes to the receiver, which adds a little more belly and top-end to your sound.

In terms of main source connections, the Sony STR-DH590 only has four HDMI inputs. While you won’t be powering any rock concerts, it’s more than enough receiver for a very satisfying home theater experience.

Sony STR-DH590

Sony STR-DH590

The best budget AV receiver


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Yamaha Aventage RX-A2A

Best receiver for format support

Pros

  • Excellent format and file support
  • Vibration dampening
  • Seven HDMI ports, including support for HDMI 2.1
  • 5.1 wireless surround sound support

Cons

  • A bit more focused on audio than video

The 7.2 Aventage RX-A2A is more than capable as a powerhouse video system. Naturally, it has support for all of the latest AV technologies: 4K, HDR (HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, etc.), Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and HDCP 2.3. It’s also ready for HDMI-eARC and is compatible with hi-res audio files up to 32-bit/192 kHz.

HDMI 2.1 is also supported if you like to stay on the cutting edge of AV support for your entertainment system, and future updates will add support for things like 8K and the latest formats. Inside, you’ll find features like a high slew rate amplifier for more accurate audio response and low distortion, as well as advanced modes for movie optimization. Outside, the design includes an A.R.T. (Anti-Resonance Technology) wedge to help dampen nearby vibration and improve audio quality further. MusicCast features wireless 5.1 surround sound support also help if you like to play music on the system as well.

Don’t worry about a lack of connections, either. The Yamaha Aventage RX-A2A includes seven HDMI input options to handle any devices you may want to set up. There’s even compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant when you can’t find the remote.

Yamaha Aventage RX-A2A

Yamaha Aventage RX-A2A

Best receiver for format support

Denon AVR-A1H 8K A/V receiver.

Denon

Denon AVR-A1H

Best high-end AV receiver

Pros

  • 15.4 channels with 150 watts per speaker
  • The latest video and audio formats
  • Game-friendly capabilities
  • HEOS support for wireless setups
  • Voice assistant compatibility

Cons

  • May be too expensive for some home theaters

Denon’s upcoming high-end AV receiver packs every possible feature inside and is ready for years of channeling top-tier content for your system. The receiver, rated at 150 watts per channel, supports up to 15.4 channel setups for a variety of configurations for the best possible sound in your home theater.

While it’s probably easier to list what the AVR-A1H doesn’t support, here’s some of what it does: 8K resolution is a given, along with the latest DTS formats like DTS: X and DTS HD Master. Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos support are included, as is IMAX Enhanced, Auro 3D, 360 Reality Audio, and much more. HDR, HLF, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and other formats are supported for visual optimization, too. It also offers HEOS compatibility for wireless multiroom setups, while gamers will appreciate compatibility with Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM ). And like our Denon pick above, it also has a phono input to get your vinyl on.

There are seven HDMI in and three HDMI out ports to handle your entertainment system, along with 17 speaker terminals, four subwoofer out ports, USB, and more. Helpful modes allow you to do everything from sync bass to set a sleep timer or enter an ECO mode to save energy.

Of course, it’s expensive at $6,500, easily the highest price tag on our list. You’ll have to pay to get this much support and connection options, and not everyone will need it. But it’s ready to coordinate your home theater for the long haul and will deal with anything you throw at it, making it an easy recommendation for the best high-end option for massive-sized setups.

Denon AVR-A1H

Denon AVR-A1H

Best high-end AV receiver

The Denon AVR-X4800H receiver.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Denon AVR-X4800H

Best AV receiver for 8K

Pros

  • 8K ready, along with many other formats
  • Great gaming support
  • Varied connection support, including HDMI, composite, digital, and more
  • New computer-based calibration technology

Cons

  • Not everyone is interested in preparing for 8K yet

The above-mentioned Denon AVR-A1H, at over $6,000, is certainly not for everyone. But you can trim that price down a whole lot if you’re only interested in future-proofing a few key features in a slightly smaller setup while still getting an incredible amount of support. The Denon AVR-X4800H does just that, offering 8K support (plus upscaling) on all seven HDMI inputs and two of the three HDMI outputs. That also goes for game-friendly technology like VRR, ALLM, and QFT.

Outputs support up to nine simultaneous speakers or 11 channels in all, at 125W each, including four subwoofer outputs. There’s support for Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, IMAX Enhanced, DTS, Auro-3D, HEOS, direction connections like AirPlay 2, HDR 10+, and HLG, as well as 3D signal passthrough.

And if you have older connections to manage, there are also component and composite video inputs, five analog stereo RCA inputs, optical and coaxial digital inputs, plus phono. That’s a great recipe for longevity as you eventually upgrade your HDTV and other devices to the latest and greatest home theater tech. It even works with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands over things like volume and skipping tracks.

You’ll also have the ability to download an advanced speaker calibration program to PC or Mac and use it to minutely adjust your sound based on your own unique space. There are few other options so well-suited to bridging the past and the future as the AVR-X4800H, especially if you don’t mind planning on some serious investment in 8K and related formats.

Denon AVR-X4800H

Denon AVR-X4800H

Best AV receiver for 8K

Marantz Cinema 70s 8K AVR in black.

Marantz / Marantz

Marantz Cinema 70s

Best sleek and compact AV receiver

Pros

  • Slim design
  • Excellent HDR and surround codec support
  • Six HDMI 2.1 inputs and 8K/60Hz eARC output

Cons

  • Not as powerful as other models
  • Pricey

If you need an AV receiver but can’t stand the idea of a bulky piece of hardware, the Marantz Cinema 70s is an excellent alternative to big, boxy, and square. This 7.2 receiver may not be as powerful as some of the other models on our list (50 watts per channel), but in this case, less amplification translates to a slimmer product. Part of Marantz’s slimline family, the Cinema 70s is just over 4 inches tall.

Not only will the Cinema 70s look great in your entertainment center or AV rack, but it’s also got plenty of ports. This includes six HDMI 2.1 inputs, an eARC output (up to 8K/60Hz), USB, Bluetooth, and several other digital and analog connections. When connected to the internet, you’ll also be able to access music-streaming platforms like Spotify, Tidal, SiriusXM, and Pandora (HEOS app required).

The Cinema 70s is no straggler when it comes to hi-res playback either: With its PCM 24-bit/192kHz cap, you’ll be able to listen to detail-rich tracks and albums, making a Tidal subscription all the more alluring. That’s on top of next-level support for the leading picture and sound formats of today, including HDR10+, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X.

The Cinema 70s even includes a powered second zone. Opting for this configuration will prevent you from being able to wire up a full Atmos system though. Zone 2 can borrow audio sources from Zone 1, but the receiver also supports dedicated sources for a second listening area, including analog inputs, USB, Bluetooth, and HEOS streaming services.

Marantz Cinema 70s

Marantz Cinema 70s

Best sleek and compact AV receiver


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Onkyo TX-NR5100

Best mid-range AV model

Pros

  • Great support for current standards and voice assistants
  • Gamer-friendly optimization
  • Good features for mid-range price

Cons

  • No 8K support
  • Wattage is low compared to high-end picks

Those who want support for the latest features and standards while still staying at mid-range prices will find a lot to love about this Onkyo model, which is also a great pick for gamers or those looking for an upgrade to their movie experience.

This seven-channel receiver offers 80 watts per channel into 8 ohms at 0.08% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) with two channels driven. Connections include four HDMI 2.1 ports in and two out (with HDCP 2.3 support), optical, coaxial, stereo RCA ports, USB ports, and dual subwoofer RCA ports, plus a headphone jack when gaming sessions need to stay quiet.

When we dig into more supported standards, this Onkyo model gets even more impressive: It’s compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing, Sonos Port, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Chromecast, Alexa, and Google Assistant. There’s built-in Wi-Fi and compatibility with ARC/eARC, too. HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) are also all supported, making this receiver very well-rounded for all kinds of optimization.

Like some of our other picks, the Onkyo TX-NR5100 also has a few features dedicated to gamers, including Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and Quick Frame Transport (QFT), which can help improve frame rate performance and cut down on issues relating to lag.

Onkyo TX-NR5100

Onkyo TX-NR5100

Best mid-range AV model

Frequently Asked Questions

Are some AV receivers better for music than movies?

No. Most receivers do very well for movies as well as music, with performance scaling up in tandem as you move into premium models. However, music can be more revealing of sound quality and character than movie soundtracks, and those who value music listening may find one brand more sonically satisfying than another.

Additionally, if music is is your main focus, you may want to consider just getting a stereo receiver or integrated amplifier instead.

Do all AV receivers support 4K? What about 8K?

All of the models we highlight support 4K and most also support HDR formats as well. These days, only particularly old receivers will lack 4K support.

While 8K is available in some form or another today, the technology is still new and rarely seen outside of some specialized broadcasts. However, as it becomes more common, we are seeing 8K support show up in more places, including several of our top receiver picks. Consider it a future-proofing option as 8K continues to appear more frequently.

Can I easily use an AV receiver with a turntable?

As long as it has a phono input, yes. If not, you’ll need a phono preamp to boost the usually-low signal from the turntable. Preamps can be quite affordable for entry-level models.

What external devices do you need to buy to connect to your receiver?

It’s helpful to think about this in terms of inputs and outputs. What devices do you want to input audio and video, and what components do you want that audio and video delivered to? The second question is answered automatically with an AV receiver: You’ll be outputting audio to speakers (which often come with many receiver packages) and video to a TV or similar display.

For inputs, that largely depends on what you have and what you want. You can connect consoles, Blu-ray players, laptops or PCs, set-top boxes, and a variety of other devices to a receiver. You will want to pay close attention to the ports on your devices and make sure your receiver supports the most effective way to receive AV data, such as eARC. There’s a lot more to discuss about the different types of setups an AV receiver can support, but this will help you get started.

What is the difference between an AV receiver and an amplifier?

Simply put, a receiver component can receive and process an audio signal, while an amplifier component optimizes the audio signal and sends it on to the speakers. AV receivers include both, so that’s not something you generally need to worry about. Some types of speakers do have their own amplifiers included but will need a receiver device to work.

How can you tell a good AV receiver from a bad one?

That’s a complicated question, depending on a myriad of factors like format support, connection standards, hardware components, processing technology, and a lot more.

For some time, the rate at which features were being added made buying any AV receiver a risky proposition if you didn’t want to be stuck with something that quickly went out of date. With 4K, HDR, HDMI, and HDCP seemingly having everything worked out for the 4K era, it’s much safer to buy a receiver now without worrying that you’ll quickly see the future pass you by. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X seem entrenched as the two major leaders in object-based surround sound

If you really want to dive in, one of the best places to start is our guide to everything you should know when buying an AV receiver.

Is an AV receiver good for gaming?

It can be, especially if you like gaming with surround sound for immersion. Look for support for all the latest standards before you buy, including Dolby Atmos, one of the newer HDMI standards like 2.0 or 2.1, and HDR compatibility. There are also features, like on our Denon AVR-X4700H pick, that add more benefits for gamers, like Variable Refresh Rate support and Auto Low Latency Mode. An AV receiver isn’t required for gaming, but it’s an important addition if you want true surround sound.

How do you test?

Collectively, the AV team at Digital Trends has been testing AV receivers for just over 40 years. Testing takes place both in a dedicated home theater lab at our headquarters in Portland, Oregon, as well as in our individual home theater spaces. That spans a wide variety of sourcing equipment able to handle the latest standards.

Connected speakers include a rotating cast of speakers, including many Dolby Atmos-enabled models. While we routinely run any given receiver’s auto setup routine to gauge its accuracy and user experience, we ultimately perform a manual calibration using an analog SPL meter, carefully choosing crossover points for connected speakers based on in-room measured low-frequency response. Surround speaker arrangements will vary between 7.2 and 5.2.4.

Receivers are tested for ease of use, with special attention paid to how easy it is to stream music to the receiver as well as direct-stream internet radio stations. We also pay attention to how clear on-screen guides and setup instructions will be for novice users.

Sound quality tests include analysis of dynamic expression, overall power, timbre, and tonality; speaker-to-speaker transitions of sound effects; and general soundstage quality.

Is it bad to leave an AV receiver on all the time?

It’s not the best habit, but it won’t do much harm. Today’s AV receivers are built to go into standby modes and use as little power as possible.

Does an AV receiver need ventilation?

Ventilation is important to keep the receiver from overheating. For example, Denon recommends that you give its receivers at least five inches of space on the top and two inches on the sides. If the amp inside overheats, it may automatically shut off to protect itself.

How many channels should an AV receiver have?

Since receivers can last a long time, it’s a good idea to get as many channels as you can so you have the option to upgrade to more surround sound in the future. We recommend at least a 7.1-channel system, even if you don’t currently use that many speakers.

Glossary

  • 4K: Higher resolution than HD (3840 X 2160). The latest standard for TVs and AV receiver models, although some are even going up to 8K these days.

  • Dolby Atmos: One of the two most popular object-based surround formats, Atmos adds height information so sound can seem to come from above and all around you.

  • DSD: Direct-Stream Digital. A hi-res audio file format alternative to .WAV, .AIFF, and others that aims to reduce distortion.

  • DTS:X: The other most popular object-based audio format, DTS:X can be more flexible than Dolby Atmos when it comes to where speakers are placed and how many of them there are.

  • HDCP 2.2: A form of copy protection, this version is required in order to play 4K content.

  • HDMI 2.0a: While it isn’t the newest version of HDMI, this version is the first that allows HDR signals and 4K content at up to 60 frames per second.

  • HDMI 2.1: HDMI 2.1 supports higher frame rates and up to 8K resolution, among other improvements, and is the latest standard for AV connections.

  • HDMI eARC: eARC — or “enhanced audio return channel” —  is an upgrade to the standard HDMI ARC interface. The tech was designed to allow one-cable transmission of audio and information to and from the TV to simplify home theater setups, but the eARC upgrade also adds full support for hi-res surround sound formats.

  • HDR: High Dynamic Range, offers better contrast and more color volume than standard dynamic range. Considered by some a bigger visual improvement than 4K resolution. Even if you want a stereo receiver, HDR is still an important perk for your image quality.

  • VRR: Variable Refresh Rate. This technology can adjust the refresh rate of a display so it matches the output of a gaming console like an Xbox or PlayStation. If you have a newer console in your home theater, VRR on both your TV and receiver will help eliminate tearing and other problems.

  • THD: Total Harmonic Distortion. This measurement is typically expressed as a percentage, such as 0.008%. It shows how much harmonic distortion is created by devices like receivers. Lower THD is better for audio accuracy, and high-quality receivers will have low THD numbers.

  • Denon HEOS: Denon Home Entertainment Operating System. This was originally a wireless standard offered by Denon to support wireless audio connections between speakers in different rooms. It has developed into a platform now known as “Denon Home” but HEOS devices are still compatible with it and Denon Home still works with the HEOS app.

  • HLG: Hybrid Log Gamma. This is a signal used by some broadcasters to enable HDR optimization more efficiently. It combines HDR and SDR coding into a signal that can be sent to any TV without worrying as much about compatibility.

  • QFT: Quick Frame Transport. This technology increases the frame rate to help cut down on display latency, or those small delays between visual data being generated in a device and actually being displayed on your TV. It’s another technology that gamers will appreciate in a TV and accompanying receiver.

  • ALLM: Auto Low Latency Mode. This mode detects when you are using a connected gaming device, and switches to a separate game mode to help optimize visual data and cut down on latency.

Editors’ Recommendations






The 6 Best Optical Audio Cables in 2024 | Digital Trends

The 6 Best Optical Audio Cables in 2024 | Digital Trends

Sony

Used to transmit audio signals between devices, optical audio cables (also known as TOSLINK cables) are an important addition to your home cinema setup when connecting older sound systems or linking devices like one of the best soundbars to your TV. The best optical audio cables can vary significantly in price making it tricky to know what to buy.

In all cases, such cables use fiber optic technology to transmit digital audio signals which makes them different from many other audio cables. Once you’ve checked your device is compatible with such cables (look for an optical audio port), and determined that you don’t wish to use HDMI instead to hook up your devices, take a look below at what we’ve picked out as the best optical audio cables available today. We’ve also looked at how we picked our choices to help you come to the best decision for your situation.

The best optical audio cables in 2024

  • Buy the

    for the best all-round experience.

  • Buy the

    for a budget solution.

  • Buy the

    for a premium solution.

  • Buy the

    for a reliable cable.

  • Buy the

    for better organization.

  • Buy the

    for unconventional angles.

Monoprice Premium S/PDIF Digital Optical Audio Cable

Best all-rounder

The Monoprice Premium S-PDIF Digital Optical Audio Cable on a white background.
Monoprice
Pros Cons
Well priced Doesn’t fit Xbox 360 Slim model and some other recessed ports
Good length

Offering all the essentials you could need, the Monoprice Premium S/PDIF Digital Optical Audio Cable is well-priced and highly effective. It has full-sized male Digital Optical Audio connectors at each end with gold-plated ferrule helping to cut back on corrosion. Precision polished fiber tips ensure maximum signal transfer while there are mesh metal jackets that protect the cable from any potential damage.

An 8mm outside diameter ensures chunkiness but also means that certain devices with recessed ports mean the Monoprice Premium S/PDIF Digital Optical Audio Cable won’t fit. That includes the slimmer Xbox 360 model which could affect some users. Check out the port you need to use to consider if this could become a problem for you.

Specifications
Length 6ft
Outside diameter 8mm

Monoprice S/PDIF Digital Optical Audio Cable

Best budget cable

The Monoprice S-PDIF Digital Optical Audio Cable on a white background.
Monoprice
Pros Cons
Small outside diameter Only basic plastic tip protectors
Very cheap

For the cheapest solution, the Monoprice S/PDIF Digital Optical Audio Cable is still pretty good. 6 feet will suit most people’s needs with the cable offering full-size TOSLINK connectors on either side. They’re designed with molded heads and strain-relief boots with gold-plated ferrule like pricier cables.

There are precision polished fiber tips too but plastic tip protectors on each end are where corners are being cut to keep prices down. It’s no great hardship though. For most people though, this won’t be an issue and the Monoprice S/PDIF Digital Optical Audio Cable works very well for the price, garnering some excellent reviews.

Specifications
Length 6ft
Outside diameter 5mm

Monster M-Series 1000 Fiber Optical Audio Cable

Best premium audio cable

The Monster M-Series 1000 Fiber Optical Audio Cable on a white background.
Monster
Pros Cons
Robust design Expensive
Well-respected brand

Monster has established a name for itself in recent years for developing premium cables that are built to last. Pricier than the competition, if you’re keen to focus on durability, you’ll appreciate the Monster M-Series 1000 Fiber Optical Audio Cable. Its diameter is wider than most because it’s made with a Duraflex protective jacket and metal housing surrounding the cable.

Despite that, it’s still very easy to route and install with corrosion-resistant gold-plated connectors which help keep things working very well. Engineered to be twisted and manipulated more than average, the Monster M-Series 1000 Fiber Optical Audio Cable is a good long-term solution if you’re keen to make an investment.

Specifications
Length 5ft
Outside diameter 13mm

Amazon Basics Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable

Best reliable cable

The Amazon Basics Toslink cable on a white background.
Amazon
Pros Cons
Well regarded Some issues with fit
Lightweight

Suitably versatile, the Amazon Basics Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable is an immediate good bet as Amazon Basics products tend to be pretty reliable. This particular one is fairly lightweight and flexible while still being durable, so it’s perfect for all your AV equipment connecting needs.

It offers corrosion-resistant gold-plated connectors along with buffer tubing to ensure a reliable fit. While some reviewers found that its diameter meant it didn’t fit every port, the Amazon Basics Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable is otherwise highly reliable.

Specifications
Length 6ft
Outside diameter 12mm

BlueRigger Optical Audio Toslink Cable

Best audio cable for organization

The BlueRigger Optical Audio Toslink Cable on a white background.
BlueRigger
Pros Cons
Ideal for identifying your cables Too long for some setups
Long length

It’s convenient to be able to glance at the cables in the back of your TV and immediately identify which one is which. With the BlueRigger Optical Audio Toslink Cable, the blue ends mean you can quickly see where the optical cable is. Alongside that, it’s a huge length at 15 feet while it has 24K gold-plated connectors.

Besides those key essentials, the BlueRigger Optical Audio Toslink Cable offers a lightweight and flexible high-quality PVC jacket for long-lasting usage, while there are removable rubber tips for further protection when not in use. A snug fit means you won’t have to worry about the BlueRigger Optical Audio Toslink Cable coming loose either.

Specifications
Length 15ft
Outside diameter Unknown

EMK 90-Degree Toslink Optical Cable

Best audio cable for awkward angles

The EMK 90-Degree Toslink Optical Cable on a white background.
EMK
Pros Cons
Ideal for awkward angle placement Little short
Braided cable

Sometimes, you don’t want a standard cable with 90-degree angled cables being the most useful angle for most people. That can be when wall-mounting a TV or simply when you have limited space. That’s where the EMK 90-Degree Toslink Optical Cable is very useful. It’s robust thanks to its braided nylon mesh jacket and heavy-duty construction so it can handle being awkwardly placed, while the connector itself is angled for added ease.

It connects easily to any relevant devices even though it’s a little shorter than average at 5 feet long. Occasional reports have suggested its sound quality isn’t as high-end as some competitors but it won’t be noticeable for most people.

Specifications
Length 5ft
Outside diameter 10mm

How we chose these optical audio cables

Finding the right optical cable for you can feel overwhelming because there are literally thousands of options around. Where do you even begin? That’s why we’ve narrowed things down to some highlights but it’s important to know what factors we considered before recommending anything. Here’s what you need to know.

Think about the fit you need

While it might seem like everyone needs a highly durable cable, that’s not actually always the case. If you simply plan on placing a cable behind the TV and leaving it, you’re good to go with any solution. However, if you want to feed the cable into a wall or similar, you really don’t want to have to replace it often. That’s why it’s important to invest in something highly durable at a time like this. Similarly, think about if an angled cable would suit your needs more than a traditional length of cable.

Pricier isn’t always better

Like HDMI cables, you can spend a huge sum of money on one cable. In reality, the difference isn’t as huge as you might think. While you might appreciate the peace of mind of spending a lot, the vast majority of people will be perfectly happy with something that’s a more affordable price, and they won’t notice a difference.

How long do you need it to be?

Most audio cables are about 6 feet long with some only 5 feet long. Only you know how much length you actually need. Depending on your setup, you might actually want it to be shorter because it’ll make cable management much simpler. Alternatively, you might need something much longer such as a 15-foot cable. Measure the space involved and aim to go slightly longer than you need to ensure you have plenty of flexibility.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

Editors’ Recommendations






The 5 Best Portable Monitors for Laptops and Gaming in 2024 | Digital Trends

The 5 Best Portable Monitors for Laptops and Gaming in 2024 | Digital Trends

While your average laptop has a reasonably good screen, a portable monitor can either give you a better alternative or act as an extra screen for you to work with. Of course, you could take a more traditional monitor with you, but then you’ll have to deal with stands and more complex power needs, so they aren’t an option if you’re constantly on the road. That’s what’s great about portable monitors; plus, there’s a ton of variety that you can pick from, whether it’s something small and basic like a 15.6-inch screen or a large 18-inch one that runs at 144op and is perfect for gaming. That’s why we’ve gone out and found a nice selection of portable monitors for you to check out; so that you can pick something that fits your needs without spending a ton of extra cash.

The Best Portable Monitors in 2024

  • Buy the 

    if you want the best portable monitor for gaming

  • Buy the 

    if you want the best budget portable monitor

  • Buy the 

    if you want the best 4K portable monitor

  • Buy the

    if you want the best 1440p portable monitor

  • Buy the

    if you want the best 18-inch portable monitor

ASUS ROG Strix XG16AHPE

Best portable monitor for gaming

Asus
Pros Cons
Versatile Poor speakers
Good battery life Is still a bit pricey at MSRP
High refresh rate

You might be surprised to find out that having a portable gaming monitor that can live up to the promises of a more traditional monitor is pretty difficult. That’s why going for a good portable gaming monitor can be quite expensive, but this ASUS ROG Strix is a surprisingly affordable option. With a 15.6-inch screen that’s about the size of a laptop, if you need something that’s very portable but still packs a punch for a good price, it’s hard to beat this one, especially since it can be powered with USB C as well.

In terms of specs, it runs a 1080p resolution, so it won’t stress out more modern graphics cards, and it’s actually not a bad resolution for the size of the screen. More impressive, though, is that it can hit a 144Hz refresh rate, so it’s very fast for something portable. Plus, it has a 7800 mAh internal battery that can run it at that refresh rate for about two to three hours, so you don’t have to be near a plug to use it necessarily, and the quick charge feature lets you bring it up to a two-hour charge in just one hour, which is pretty handy.

It has both an HDMI port and a USB port, so it should be very easy to connect to pretty much any device, whether it’s a laptop or a smartphone. Unfortunately, the speakers aren’t great, although that’s to be expected, so you’re better off grabbing a solid pair of headphones or external speakers. It has a 0.46 thickness which is also impressive for the refresh speed, and it can be oriented both in landscape and in portrait without any extra attachment, so it’s perfect if you need both but don’t want to carry anything extra.

Specifications
Resolution
1080p
Screen size
15.6-inches
Refresh Rate 144Hz
Battery
7,800 mAh
Dimensions
8.88 x 14.19 x 0.46 inches
Weight
1.98 pounds

Lepow J3 Portable Monitor

Best budget portable monitor

Lepow Portable Monitor
Lepow
Pros Cons
Excellent price No battery
Versatile Poor refresh rate and response times
Good viewing angles

A good portable monitor doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, especially if you don’t need anything fancy that’s made for gaming or for very creative work that needs perfect color reproduction. To that end, this Lepow, which incidentally is such a great name, is a solid portable monitor that you can get for just under $100. And, in fact, it is even better in some regards than fancier portable monitors, for example, in the fact that it’s only 0.34 inches thick, which is very tiny.

Of course, you do lose out on a couple of things for having a lower price, for example, the faster refresh rates. That’s not so bad, though, given that you still get a 1080p resolution with a 15.6-inch screen, and it even has a pretty wide 178-degree viewing angle. On the other hand, this monitor only has one USB-C port that’s used for both charging and displaying an image if you want to go that route, although you also get an HDMI port to connect it if you don’t, so you have a couple of options.

The stand that it comes with is also pretty nice and snaps on well, and will let you use it in both portrait and landscape mode, so you aren’t loosing out on anything there. On the other hand, there’s no internal battery, so you’ll always have to have it connected to some sort of power if you want to use it, which means you’ll either need to be near a plug or have a power bank or portable power station that can run it. There’s also an HDR mode, but it’s not that great, which isn’t surprising given that even several hundred-dollar gaming monitors still don’t get the full experience of TV HDR.

Specifications
Resolution
1080p
Screen size
15.6-inches
Refresh Rate 60Hz
Battery
None
Dimensions
 8.8 x 14.5 x 0.34 inches
Weight
3.61 pounds

UPERFECT True 4K

Best 4k portable monitor

UPERFECT True 4K
UPERFECT
Pros Cons
4K resolution for a good price No VESA HDR
Strong brightness Stand is finicky and hard to use sometimes
Many ports to pick from

You may be surprised to find out that 4k monitors exist, and surprisingly, they’re actually pretty good, with some features that you might expect to find on a traditional monitor. For example, this PERFECT 4k monitor has a lot going for it besides the 4k resolution, such as 100% coverage of the RGB gamut, which is great for those who need something for graphical editing. Of course, it is only a 15.6-inch screen still, so you get a very high pixel density, and you may not get as much benefit out of it unless you have the monitor relatively close to your eyes.

Besides that, it has a 60Hz refresh rate, which isn’t ideal for gaming on a gaming PC or gaming laptop, but it is a good option for consoles like the PS5 and the Xbox Series X, especially since most games on them nowadays tend to be capped at 60Hz with a 4k resolution. the UPERFECT 4K also comes with HDR, but it’s not the VESA version, and obviously not as good as a TV’s HDR, but it does have a high contrast ratio of 1500:1 which isn’t too bad. It also has a peak brightness of 600 nits, which means you can use it in relatively well-lit areas, and even potentially outside on a sunny day, as long as it isn’t getting hit directly by sunlight.

One interesting to note is that the PERFECT 4K is built using a CNC aluminum frame which gives it a very rugged and well-built feel, and it can even withstand temperatures as low as -4 Fahrenheit, which is impressive. It also has several ports for you to pick from, including a USB 3.1, although there isn’t an internal battery, so you’ll have to dedicate one port to power if your laptop can’t power it. Also, it’s worth noting that while the protective case is great at protecting the monitor, it’s not that great as a stand and can be finicky.

Specifications
Resolution
4k
Screen size
15.6-inches
Refresh Rate 60Hz
Battery
None
Dimensions
9.84 x 14.17 x 0.24 inches
Weight
1.5 pounds

LG Gram +View

Best 1440p portable monitor

LG Gram +View
LG
Pros Cons
Has a rechargeable battery Need a separate version if you want to use Google’s Find My App
Works with Apple Find My App

While 4K is great, it isn’t really worth it to spend the money when you have a relatively small screen, especially if you aren’t going to keep it close to your face. On the other hand, 1440p is a more reasonable resolution to aim for, especially with a smaller screen size. That’s where the LG Gram +View comes in, an excellent middle-ground option if you don’t want to spring for 4k, and with a 16-inch screen, you’ll more screen real-estate with a pretty much unnoticeable difference compared to a 15.6-inch screen.

As an IPS screen, it has some excellent viewing angles if you plan to share the screen with anybody, although it does have a 16:10 aspect ratio, which might not be as perfect for watching films or shows. On the other hand, it’s perfect for gaming, especially if you’re on one of the consoles, and the 60Hz refresh rate certainly falls in line with those expectations. Luckily, the LG Gram +View covers 99% of the DCI-P3 gamut, so the color reproduction is excellent, and it’s a good option for doing graphical design work.

One downside that might be problematic here is that the LG Gram +View only has two USB-C ports, so if you need to connect with an HDMI or DisplayPort cable, this isn’t a great choice without a converter. The included stand can also sometimes be a bit finicky to use, although it does let you use it in both landscape and portrait mode, so it evens out. Also, on the bright side, it’s actually pretty slim and lightweight for something so big.

Specifications
Resolution
1440p
Screen size
16-inches
Refresh Rate 60Hz
Battery
None
Dimensions
9.66 x 14.17 x 0.32 inches
Weight
1.45 pounds

UPERFECT 2K

Best 18-inch portable monitor

UPERFECT 2K
UPERFECT
Pros Cons
Large screen No DisplayPort
Good port options Tops out at 300nits
Comes with AMD Freesync

While a lot of folks might want something small and portable, if you’re looking for something to replace your somewhat smaller laptop screen, then you can’t go wrong with this massive 18-inch portable monitor from UPERFECT. Even better, it’s actually an excellent monitor for gaming, too, with its 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate. That means you can take advantage of a more powerful GPU like an RTX 4080 with this, so if you have a high-end gaming laptop with a smaller screen, this is a great alternative to use when you want to game on something bigger.

Another big advantage of this monitor is that it comes with AMD Freesync technology, so it’s perfect for both console and PC gaming to help avoid things like screen tearing and ghosting. It also has an IPS panel, so it has excellent viewing angles to share the screen with others, and the matte display should help a lot with reflections. It also covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, so it’s just as good for graphics design and rendering as it is for gaming, making it a versatile option.

In terms of ports, you get a PD-USB, a USB-C, and an HDMI, so you have an easy way to connect pretty much anything you’d like, although it would have been nice to have seen a DisplayPort. The dual speaker is also a bit better, given that there’s a bit more space to fit them in, but you’re still going to get better audio from headphones or a standalone set of speakers. Also, it does come with HDR, but again, it’s not going to be the same sort you’d see on a TV, so be prepared for that.

Specifications
Resolution
1440p
Screen size
18-inches
Refresh Rate 144Hz
Battery
None
Dimensions
9.72 x 15.63 x 0.47  inches
Weight
2.42 pounds

How We Chose These Portable Monitors

Portability & Usability

There’s no point getting a portable monitor if you can’t actually carry it around, and while most monitors in this market are pretty portable, we did our best to pick ones that are relatively low-weight and easy to carry. The only other real exception to that is the larger monitors, which unfortunately do need to be a bit heavier due to the extra size. Also, we did our best to pick monitors that come with good stands so that you don’t have to buy and carry around a third-party stand like a VESA mount, which certainly decreases the portability.

Connectivity

It’s important that you’re able to both power and connect your portable monitor, which is why we’ve picked monitors that can at least do both with one port, leaving you an extra port empty for anything else. We’ve also done our best to pick portable monitors that have an HDMI port, so you can also connect to something like a console that can only take HDMI ports, although there are a couple of options that don’t have them, and you’ll have to use some form of converter. Either way, you should be able to connect most things to the monitors we’ve picked above.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

Editors’ Recommendations






You Asked: TV-buying decisions, ATSC 3.0, and audio outputs | Digital Trends

You Asked: TV-buying decisions, ATSC 3.0, and audio outputs | Digital Trends

We’re back and sinally recovered from CES in Las Vegas. And this week, we’ve got a slew of great questions. Like the emotional journey of choosing between the Samsung S95C or S90C. Plus Zen and the art of eARC. And why is my ATSC 3.0 tuner slow? And why can’t TVs have all the ports we need?

 TV-buying journey

Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

Jon Accamondo writes: Based on my personal needs and preferences, I have zeroed in on the Samsung (OLED) as my personal choice, but I am truly hung up on whether I stretch myself to the 95c, or jump on a 90c now. The last thing I want is to spend over $2,000 and feel that I settled in any way. My TV choices have always been thought-out and driven by my love for gaming and movie-watching. I still have a perfectly working Pioneer Kuro Elite plasma in my guest room that still blows me away all these years later.

Best Super Bowl TV Deal

I have a living room currently without a TV, and it will probably need to stay that way for at least another month or more if I’m going after the 95c. But if I can feel convinced that the 90c will give me the same experience, I am prepared to treat myself to that model. Do you have any insight that could help with this dilemma I’m tied up with?


As your TV purchasing counselor, we’re going to look at this in two ways: logically, and emotionally.

Logically speaking, I can tell you there are three things that separate the S95C and S90C OLED TVs. One is the one-connect box you get with the S95C and the resulting slimmer design. Two is the slightly better audio system you get with the S95C. Three is the slightly higher brightness of the S95C.

The brightness and the audio differences are nuanced. The S95C can, in some very limited cases, come off just slightly brighter. I would not choose the S95C if it were just down to the brightness difference. I would definitely not buy the S95C just for the audio improvement. And, well, you know better than I if the One Connect Box is something you really need or want. I’ll say this: You need to want two or more of those three things to really need to buy the S95C. That’s the practical take.

Now for the emotional take — and I think it is important to look at big purchases from this perspective. You like nice stuff. You got a Pioneer Kuro back when they were outrageously expensive TVs. And look how much joy it has brought you. You’re still talking about how much it blows you away. You probably feel like that was a really worthwhile investment, right? And I think you want to feel the same way about this TV purchase. And you know what? I don’t think my telling you to buy the S90C instead of the S95C will be the tipping point for you. I think the question of whether you are cutting a corner of some sort – making a sacrifice – will haunt you no matter what I say.

I think you’re going to buy the S95C. I think you’re going to have to wait a little bit longer. And I think in your more rational moments, you know as well as I do that waiting another month to get what you really want is the right call.

But, hey, if I’m way off on all that psychological stuff? Buy the S90C. It’s a better deal.

ATSC 3.0

ATSC 3.0
Digital Trends

Ron writes: I bought an A80L for my mom, and the tuner is really slow. I thought it was an ATSC 3.0 tuner, which made me wonder: What’s been going on with ATSC 3.0, and which TVs still have it?


First, I’d love to clarify what you mean by the tuner being slow. Do you mean it’s slow to change from one channel to the next? Does it take a while to lock in the signal and then display the image? Is it slow just to click up from one channel to another? Or was it slow to scan all the channels in your area? Once I know exactly which issue you’re encountering, we can tackle that problem.

I will say that, so far, there is no benefit I can see to ATSC 3.0, but there’s no real drawback either. It’s just a bummer that local broadcasters are using ATSC 3.0 to cram more crappy channels into the same space rather than trying to offer 4K broadcasts and better audio.

Oh, and also, LG TVs in 2024 won’t have ATSC 3.0 tuners built in because of some licensing disagreement associated with a patent issue.

Honestly, I just don’t care about ATSC 3.0 yet. Seems like a mess of a rollout to me — and that’s before you get to patent issues that are keeping some manufacturers far away.

AVR connections

ps5-hdmi-cable
Digital Trends

Jeremiah writes: Hi, I’m new to 4K TVs and to the newer HDMI, ACR, and e-ARC inputs on devices. I have a question on using 4K TVs and AVRs. I don’t plan on using the AVR all the time and only plan on using it on movie nights with the family. My devices would be a PS5, cable box, Apple TV, and a dedicated 4K Blu-ray player. What devices would be better hooked to the TV, and which to the AVR? I have three kids watching Apple TV apps throughout the day and didn’t want them to have to turn on the AVR all the time if it was hooked to the AVR first and then out to the TV. Also, do you have to turn on the AVR to pass video to the TV? It seems it would be hard on the AVR over time when watching content.


It would be easier for me to answer your question if you provided your TV model number and AVR model number. That way, I would know how many HDMI inputs you had, whether or not you had ARC or eARC on which component, and whether your receiver does video passthrough in standby.

Some newer receivers will pass video through while in standby mode, which, to most folks, means they are basically off. Yours may be able to do this, I don’t know. It is a feature that you must enable in some receivers, so look for that feature in the specs list for your AVR, and if it can do it, figure out how to make sure it is on so you can pass video through no matter what you do.

If you have four HDMI inputs, connect all your devices to your TV and just run one HDMI cable to your receiver using the ARC connections. Not only does this save you a bunch of cabling, but it is simplest for everyone. Just use the TV to switch from Apple TV to game console to cable to your 4K disc player.

If you have three HDMI inputs on your TV, then connect the dedicated 4K Blu-ray player to your receiver and everything else to your TV. That would be my advice.

Audio outputs

TCL Q6 ports on the back of the television.
The TCL Q6 has a trio of HDMI ports, including one eARC. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Karl writes: With soundbars not having enough HDMI inputs, why don’t TV manufacturers put a dedicated HDMI output with audio passthrough on their TVs and get rid of the digital Toslink outputs? I know about eARC. But with a dedicated HDMI output, the user keeps all four dedicated inputs.

And Aaron B writes: Why don’t any modern TVs allow for two simultaneous audio outputs? Why is a TV not available with two eARC outputs or just an option to run the optical audio out with eARC active? I have multiple devices with eARC available, as well as a full studio of sound in my entertainment room, and I would love a way to use my S990c and still get a signal to my soundboard. Is there an external receiver that can control eARC devices as well as manage a second audio out? Even simple RCA with no volume control would work.


I pooled these questions together because I wanted to try to explain why TVs don’t have the inputs and outputs we wish they had. One: TV manufacturers rarely make these particular parts of the TVs themselves. And two: They have to play to the most common denominator and are not in the business of spiking costs by catering to special needs.

MediaTek, which you may have heard of, makes many boards and chips that go into TVs. This means that the system on a chip (SsC), which handles a lot of processing and transcoding and is integrated with the HDMI outputs, is often not made by the TV brand in question. There are some exceptions — TCL, which is a fully vertically integrated company, makes all of its own stuff. This is why, on its TVs, you’ll see the eARC port is separate from one of the two 4K 120Hz or 8K 60Hz ports. But you’ll note that TCL still only has two high-bandwidth ports.

Samsung and LG could do it. But like all the TV brands, they are trying to serve the largest number of consumers possible. Many people still need optical, and many folks are fine with three or four HDMI ports, one of them being an ARC or eARC port. The folks that need more are in the minority and they are probably spending enough on their elaborate setups that spending a little more to make it all work is going to be OK with them.

Now to Aaron’s point specifically: Just about any AV receiver with preamp outputs will do what you want. Or, you could get an HDMI-to-Toslink or HDMI-to-analog converter box and skip having the expensive receiver in play for a relatively simple task. There are some receivers, though, that will do HDMI audio only out to a second zone. Some receivers will transcode HDMI audio, downmix it, and put it out via Toslink. I think you have a few options at your disposal.

Anyway, I get it. We look at the back of our TVs and think: “If only it had this thing this way, then I could do what I want. Why don’t they just do that?” And then you think, “Surely I’m not the only one who wants it this way.” And while it is true that you are not the only one, you are part of a small group of folks, and big businesses just don’t have your specific interests in mind — as frustrating as that can often be.

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How to connect your Chromecast to a hotel TV | Digital Trends

How to connect your Chromecast to a hotel TV | Digital Trends

While some hotels offer complimentary HBO and other viewing packages, others only allow for limited options. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re a Chromecast user, and remember to pack your device, you can get back to watching Netflix or Hulu easily. All you need to do is connect your Chromecast to a hotel TV. Here’s how you can start streaming while away from home.


Google

Connect the Chromecast to the TV

This first step is critical. The TV in your hotel room has to have an open HDMI port that you can access (many of them don’t). Otherwise, it’s game over. While you’re looking, take note to see if there’s already an HDMI cable plugged into the TV. If there is, you might need to unplug it in one of the next steps. Once a free port has been found, plug your Chromecast in.

Step 1: Check the sides of the TV, or if you can access it, around the back. The inputs should be clearly labeled as HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc.

Step 2: Plug your Chromecast into the HDMI port. It doesn’t really matter which one — just make a note of whether it’s HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc.

Step 3: Plug the power cable into your Chromecast and the other end into the wall plug. (It’s possible the TV’s USB port may work to power the Chromecast. It may not if it doesn’t provide the Chromecast enough juice, so it is best to use a wall plug if possible.)

Pro tip: Bring an extra-long USB power cable in case there isn’t a free wall outlet near the TV.

Step 4: Change the input on the TV to match the one you plugged the Chromecast into. (You remembered to remember, right? HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc.)

If you’re successful, you should see the default Chromecast setup screen. If you can’t find an open HDMI port, try the next step.

If there is no open HDMI port

If there isn’t a free HDMI port or you have trouble switching inputs (maybe because the TV simply won’t allow it), it’s time to try plan B. If you found a cable already plugged into an HDMI port in step 1, unplug it, and swap in your Chromecast. Of course, this means you’ll lose your hotel TV channels, but you can always swap it back once you’ve finished bingeing the latest hot shows on Netflix.

Keep in mind that many hotel chains will purchase HDTVs that are connected to the hotel’s own media servers. In many cases, this means that the HDMI ports on the TV may be locked.

So even if there are one or two ports available to connect your Chromecast to, the inputs themselves may not work. If you run into this issue, there’s a quick workaround you can try.

Look at the back of the TV. If you see a cable that looks like an Ethernet wire connected to the TV, go ahead and disconnect it. This is the data stream wire (or RJ11 cable) that the hotel uses to deliver cable streams to each TV. Once this wire is disconnected, you should be able to use the TV’s HDMI inputs.

Apple TV app on Chromecast with Google TV

Google

Connect to the internet

If you’ve gotten this far, this is (hopefully) the last step.

Step 1: Connect your phone or tablet to the hotel’s Wi-Fi. This may be done through an open connection or via a password setup that is provided to you at check-in. Check with the front desk if you need help getting your phone connected to hotel Wi-Fi.

Step 2: Now that you are connected to the Internet, if you haven’t done so already, download the free Google Home app from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Then, launch the app and follow the on-screen instructions for setting up your Chromecast on the same Wi-Fi network.

If you need more help setting up your Chromecast, check out our detailed set up your Chromecast guide.

Congrats, you’re ready to start casting!

Google Chromecast with Google TV displayed on a mantle.

Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

Common issues when connecting Chromecast to hotel TVs

If you are still not able to get the Chromecast set up and working, you’ve got some other things to try.

Step 1: Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot.

If you cannot connect the Chromecast to the hotel Wi-Fi, you can set up your own Wi-Fi hotspot instead.

If you have a Windows laptop, you can share its Wi-Fi connection with both your smartphone and Chromecast.

You can do the same thing on a MacOS laptop, but only if you can connect the laptop to an Ethernet connection in the hotel room, and these are becoming increasingly rare.

The same goes for using your phone as a hotspot. Remember that if you’ve got limited data, you’ll eat through it quickly when streaming video.

Step 2: Bring a travel router.

A travel router offers the most reliable way to create a Wi-Fi access point you can then share with devices in your hotel room, including the Chromecast.

There are plenty of these to be found on Amazon and elsewhere, and they usually cost less than $75. Some require access to an Ethernet jack, however — as we mentioned above, that can be hard to find. A model that can run in Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) mode (or bridge mode) will let you sign in to your hotel’s Wi-Fi and then make that connection shareable as a regular Wi-Fi network, with a name and password of your choosing.

One last thing

If none of these options work for you, or you simply don’t want to be bothered messing around with HDMI ports and Wi-Fi hot spots, you may not need to bring your Chromecast at all. More and more hotels are beginning to install Chromecast-compatible systems like RoomCast. If your hotel has this, all you need is your phone, tablet, or laptop, and you’re all set.

Travel locations may only offer you basic cable, so bringing your Chromecast and connecting your Chromecast to a hotel TV is a great option. If your hotel’s TV allows it, you will be able to stay up to date on all your favorite shows by following the above steps. Just remember to unplug your Chromecast when you leave, and replug anything you may have changed on the TV.

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