Is your streaming content missing that special something? Worried you're not getting the most out of your Chromecast or Apple TV? Don't fret: let us help you! Here are 10 ways to get the most out of your streaming gadgets.
Get A Bluetooth Keyboard
Let's face it: typing on an on-screen keyboard with nothing but a flimsy remote is one of the most frustrating experiences life can put in front of you.
Thankfully, the Apple TV allows you to pair a Bluetooth keyboard, meaning you can have all the hot QWERTY action you want when searching for content online.
Bonus tip: Chromecast doesn't need much in the way of a Bluetooth keyboard, simply because you'll be using your phone, tablet or laptop to control it most of the time.
Use Screen Mirroring
Did you know that your Chromecast and your Apple TV can do more than just play your content? They can also be used as excellent screen mirroring tools.
Apple laptops on the same network as an Apple TV will automatically find the device and offer to mirror your screen onto the device. You can even put the Screen Mirroring options box in your menu bar so you can mirror in a matter of clicks whenever you connect to the same Wi-Fi network.
Chromecast's full screen mirroring option is an experimental feature right now that Google advises may be slow or break regularly, but from our tinkering we've found it to be pretty sturdy.
Alternatively, Chromecast allows you to choose different apps to mirror individually, like the Chrome browser itself. If you just want to see your web browsing on the big screen, you can mirror that instead of your whole machine for faster results.
Stay On Top Of Your Updates
We know how it is. You've got your laptop; your phone; your tablet, and everything in-between that needs regular software update attention. It sucks having to throw another one into the maintenence schedule, but looking after the updates on your streaming box can pay dividends in the form of new features.
Updating your Apple TVs and Chromecast dongles regularly means you'll not only get stable releases quickly, but it also means you'll get new software features to make your gadgets and overall streaming experience way more awesome.
Think About Your Network
When you're setting up your streaming box, it pays to think about where the content is going to be played from. You don't want to send bulky streaming content over the same network that's choked up by the traffic from the rest of your house. That's like trying to drive to work in peak-hour: frustrating and slow.
If you have a modem capable of broadcasting dual-band Wi-Fi signal, take advantage of that. Set-up your 5GHz network for your streaming gear and reap the rewards of minimal interference from other devices and other network traffic.
Check out our guide on how to super-charge your network for streaming to get more awesome tips on how to manage your network.
Get Your Cables In Order
Your streaming set-up and entertainment unit might look amazing from the front, but around the back I bet it's a swirling, black morass of tangled cables and sadness.
It doesn't have to be that way. Check out the squillions of DIY cable management tips, tricks and hacks on our sister site, Lifehacker Australia, you filthy animal.
Use Gift Vouchers, Not Credit Cards
While having your credit card info on file with either Google or Apple can be handy for the one-click purchase of content from the get-go, it pays dividends to look at the pre-paid card option.
Both Apple and Google Play now offer voucher credit to their stores in supermarkets, petrol stations and wherever pre-paid cards are sold. The best part is that because retailers are all trying to compete for your business, they'll often discount iTunes and Google Play cards by 10 per cent or more.
That means you're getting free money to spend on content just by shopping around!
Check How Your ISP Streams Content
From a networking perspective, this one might be a little harder to figure out, but if you do your research, you can super-charge how content gets to you. Some ISPs cache content like videos and games, which means that they get to you faster because they have to travel a shorter distance over fewer connections. Plus, by getting cached content from your ISP might mean that the content is unmetered.
Adjust Streaming Quality On Chromecast To Prevent Buffering
Choose the Options link from the Google Cast extension drop-down, and you can configure the streaming quality that's used when you send a tab across to the Chromecast. If you've got oodles of bandwidth to work with then set it to Extreme; if there's a lot of activity on your local network and you're experiencing problems, give the Standard option a try. For most users the default High option should suffice.
Get Apps In Your Life
The Chromecast in particular is better with apps. The Chromecast is essentially a Google streaming platform that allows you to throw all sorts of things at it. That means developers are building cool, new stuff for it all the time.
Check out some of our favourite apps here.