Jeff Sexton

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Getting Netflix on the Big Screen, With Sound

This is an experiment in streaming Netflix to my TV, with audio going through the home theater speakers.  Lots of devices can stream Netflix of course, but I happen to be fresh out of working solutions.  So I'm going to use my phone.

The phone is a Samsung Galaxy SIII.  An adapter is available for this phone that outputs an ordinary HDMI signal path, from the phone's USB jack.

Warning...  Samsung used a non-standard pin layout on the port on the SIII.  To do this, one must buy the Samsung HDMI device, specifically for the SIII.  Others will not work.  And the SIII device will not work with other Samsung phones.  Apparently Samsung needed some extra funds for the executive Christmas party.

There are adapters for the SII from Samsung and other vendors, less expensive naturally.

First, there is a problem.  I want the audio to go to my receiver, not to my TV.  My TV has HDMI inputs, but my older receiver does not.  I could use the TV speakers, but where's the fun in that?  Enter this device.

This photo shows one end of a nifty little box that splits off the multi-channel audio from a digital HDMI signal to analog.  On this end we see an HDMI input, a mode selection switch and the power input.

A word of warning.  HDMI is a copy-protected format (for your protection).  Not all boxes that claim to split the signal in this way will actually pass through the video (for your own good).  This box worked for me, and my SIII, with Netflix.  That's about all I can claim.

Here is the other end.  The outputs are four stereo mini-jacks providing all the signals for 7.1 audio.  There is also an optical output.  And at the left end is the HDMI output for video to my TV.

Here's the cables I used.  These have a mini-jack at one end, and RCA jacks on the other.  Four of these get you to 8 channels, for 7.1 sound.

I'm going to connect the optical cable as well.

All set.

Next, here is the Samsung HDMI adapter.  This connect to the phone at the small end, and provides a female HDMI port at the large end.

Note that this means I need another HDMI cable.  I should have thought of that...

Also, this device will not work unless it is powered.  It has a USB jack on it, just like the phone and is designed to be connected to the phone's charger.

It works!

A few things though...

The video signal from Netflix on the TV looked terrible, unwatchable in fact, for a couple minutes or more.  Then apparently it realized it could use more bandwidth and stepped it up to something not too bad.

Also this setup might be a little flaky.  It took awhile for the video signal to appear on the screen, although connecting the phone directly to the TV worked fine.  The splitter box seems to have some trouble kicking in.  It dropped out on me for a few seconds once too.

And of course Netflix is not pushing down multi-channel audio, but for old TV shows, that's OK.

All in all, so far so good.  This looks like a usable setup for now.

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