Can I watch UK TV abroad on my television?
Yes. It’s easy to setup VPN on your computer and watch TV from there by signing up for a VPN service and installing the software provided, but if you want to watch TV over VPN on your television, you essentially have two options. You can either connect your computer to your TV using a HDMI cable, or you can setup your internet router to use VPN directly.
Connecting your computer to your TV
All modern TVs and most laptops and other computers have a HDMI port. HDMI allows you to view HD content and transfer video and audio in a single cable, unlike older formats such as S-Video.
What do I need?
To connect your computer to your TV using HDMI, you need a HDMI port on both your computer and TV. For your computer, if you have a laptop or tablet it should be located on the side and if you have a PC it will probably be at the back. For your TV, you should find one or more HDMI ports on the back or the side.
You will also need a HDMI cable like the one shown below. Any standard HDMI cable should be fine. Most laptops have a full size HDMI port. However, smaller devices such as tablets may use the smaller mini or micro HDMI ports, so check which you have before buying a HDMI cable.
If you have a Mac, it might have a Thunderbolt port (which doubles as a Mini DisplayPort) but no HDMI port. If this is the case, you will also need to buy a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.
Step 1 – Video
Once you have confirmed you have everything you need above, connect the HDMI cable to both your TV and computer. Check which input port you are using on the back of the TV and then use your TV remote control to select the same input source for viewing.
Your computer will need some setup to get video (and audio) working correctly.
If you are using Windows, right click anywhere on the desktop (main screen) and click ‘Screen Resolution’.
This will bring up the Screen Resolution window where you should see both your computer screen and TV screen listed. If your TV screen shows up as ‘disabled’, you need to select and then enable it.
In the same window, there should be a drop down menu for ‘Multiple Displays’ as shown above. You can choose ‘Duplicate these displays’. This means that everything you see on your computer screen is duplicated to your TV. Alternatively, you can choose ‘Extend these displays’. This means that your TV is an extension to one side of your computer screen. You may prefer to duplicate your computer screen to your TV, however, it is often tricky to get this working because the resolutions on your computer and TV need to be compatible.
If you choose ‘Extend these displays’, you then need to select the resolution that works best for your TV. Pick a resolution (higher is generally better) and apply the change. It may take a couple of attempts for anything to appear on your TV so don’t be worried if it doesn’t work the first time. Make sure you have selected the correct HDMI input on your TV. You may need to experiment with a few different resolutions before you get one that fills your entire TV screen. In theory, you should be able to choose the native resolution of your TV but this depends on which resolutions are supported by your computer (as determined by its graphics card), so you may have to settle for a lower resolution instead. Once you have all this set up, you can then drag any window to one side off your computer screen and you will see it being simultaneously dragged into your TV screen.
In the screen resolution window above, you can see the TV screen (2) is to the right of the laptop screen (1), so dragging any window on the laptop to the right (beyond the right edge of the laptop screen) will make it appear on the TV screen. If you want to change this so the TV screen is to the left of the laptop screen, you can do so from the screen resolution window. Simply drag the TV screen image in the screen resolution window to the other side of the laptop screen image and apply the change.
Note that the desktop background from your computer will be duplicated on your TV. Even if this background does not take up the whole television screen, you may still have the optimum resolution. You need to check what happens when you expand a video to full screen because it will often take up the full TV screen when expanded, even when the computer’s desktop background does not.
Step 2 – Audio
The next step is to get the sound working. The default behaviour after connecting your TV is for sound to play on your computer rather than your TV. In order to change this, you need to modify the sound settings. To open the sound settings window, right click on the speaker icon on the bottom right of your screen and click ‘Playback devices’.
Alternatively, from Control Panel, select ‘Hardware and Sound’ and then ‘Sound’ to get the same window. In the Sound window (as shown below), you should see a TV or HDMI output. Select this, click ‘Set Default’ and then click OK.
Now all sound from your computer should play on your TV speakers so your setup is complete. If the sound is not working, check that the sound isn’t muted and is at a reasonable volume on both the computer and TV. If you want to revert to having the sound output directly from your computer, just go back to the sound settings and set your computer speakers as the default again. However, if you simply unplug the HDMI cable, the sound output should default back to your computer anyway.
That’s it! To watch iPlayer or a similar online player on your TV, just open it as usual on your computer. Start playing whatever you want, drag this window over to your TV screen and switch the video to full screen mode.
On a Mac, the above setup procedure is similar. When you connect your TV directly via a HDMI cable (or indirectly through a HDMI to Mini DisplayPort adapter), your TV should be automatically recognised and appear as an extension of your computer screen. Again, make sure you have selected the correct HDMI input on your TV. If you want to duplicate (mirror) your computer screen on your TV, go to ‘System Preferences’, then click on ‘Displays’ to open display settings. There should be an ‘Arrangements’ tab where you can select ‘Mirror Displays’. If your TV is not recognised, click ‘Detect Displays’. If you want to change the resolution, there should be a list of resolutions to choose from in the display settings.
Setting up VPN on your router
If you are more tech savvy, then you can avoid using your computer to play content by setting up your router to access your VPN service directly. This is more complicated to get working but if you expect to be watching TV over the internet a lot, it might be worth the effort.
For more details, check out How to Set Up VPN on Your Router.