Despite the ever-increasing screen size on Samsung's Galaxy line, some types of media beg for a sit-back, big-screen experience. It could be a YouTube video, or just a little something you shot (and even edited!) on your phone. And, as more developers support this option, mirroring can even enable you to play games on your TV while your phone acts as a controller.
The S4 offers a few ways to mirror your phone's screen (not just media) onto your TV, so that whatever you see on your phone is what appears on the TV.
Depending on which accessory you use, the setup can be wired or wireless, with each solution offering its own unique benefits. Find out which scenario suits you best.
A lesser-known feature, the S4's Micro-USB port actually doubles as an MHL-out port, letting you output HD video and 7.1 surround sound, all while charging your phone. With this wired connection you'll be tethered to your TV, but the benefit of that hard-wired connection is that you get glitch-free mirroring, since wireless mirroring can sometimes give you tinny audio and laggy video.
This setup isn't ideal for quick switching between short YouTube videos or sharing a photo slideshow, though. Ideally, you'd use this wired method for playing a movie or a longer playlist.
But before you hook up the cables, there's a little setup on your phone. Head to Settings > My Device > Accessory; tap "Audio output" and tick "Surround." Now, using an HDMI cord, connect the MHL-to-HDMI cable to one of your TV's HDMI-in ports, and your wall charger to the input on the side of the adapter. Finally, switch the input source on your TV. Anything you see on your phone will display on the TV, and any audio will output to your home-theater system.
Dig through your S4's Settings panel and you'll see a "Screen mirroring" option without an explanation of how it even works. After some sleuthing, it turns out the feature works two ways: with (surprise) Samsung TVs or with Samsung's AllShare Cast dongle.
Mirroring doesn't work with just any Samsung TV, though -- the feature will become available only on 2013 Smart TV models that haven't yet been released. So, if you're not willing to wait, or a new TV isn't in your future, consider using Samsung's dongle instead.
The dongle, available at a discount from Amazon, adds that wireless mirroring and media beaming feature to any HDTV. To set it up, start by connecting it to your HDTV and switching to that source input. When the light on the dongle blinks red, press the reset button and it'll turn blue.
Then, on your phone, go to Settings > Connections > Screen mirroring. Turn the feature on, and after a few seconds, the dongle should appear in the device list. Tap it, and your device will start mirroring in the big screen.
Besides playing audio and video, wireless mirroring also packs a little surprise for gamers. Some games, like Dungeon Hunter and Real Racing 3, offer a second-screen experience, displaying the game on your TV and turning your phone into the controller.