If you travel with a laptop you should travel with an HDMI cord. Because you never know when you will be staying at a place that does not communicate with your preferred streaming device. Recently my family was on a vacation at an older family motel. The facility provided a decent WiFi network that gave our phones and tablets all the juice they needed. Ironically our room was equipped with an LGTV complete with a full WebOS app store. Yet try as I might I could not convince the TV to see the network that we accessed for everything else. Did I have a stupid smart TV? No. The problem I faced is typical of lots of items. But the fix was out of my hands. Because it usually requires that the modem and router for a network be reset/unplugged for a time and then plugged back in after a minute. Many of us have done so at our homes. At the Oceana though, I could hardly barge into the office and start unplugging things. Luckily I had my laptop and an HDMI cord.
I had brought my laptop along so that I could publish a bit while I was away from streaming central but ended up dictating and using an iPad for most of it. But after discovering that the TV only provided 16 channels and no premium content I decided it was time for some Sling TV and that meant the Laptop had to be set up next to the TV the old-fashioned (circa 2011) way. And you know what? With a little work, it was a perfectly easy substitute for any streaming device or smart TV OS.
That is because there are few if any major apps that do not have accompanying websites that have the same content. The family used the laptop to stream Sling TV so we could watch Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, I pulled up Netflix and checked out two episodes of the Kominsky Method on Netflix followed by Celebrity Family Feud on Hulu.
Now you might say, just pop in a Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, or Roku Stick. The thing is that none of those methods is quick. Roku requires a few settings adjustments that can be a headache. The older Chromecast models require a whole process of working through up a kind of sub-network that pairs everything with another device to even begin setup. The Fire TV Stick is probably the easiest to use bc it has a built-in browser. But they all require multiple steps. And many hotels or motels might offer WiFi, but that does not mean that the signal is strong enough to handle everything you need to do. For a laptop, (which may have a more powerful Wifi antenna) to work with a tv, once you have it on a network you just plug in the cord and select the HDMI input.
It is possible of course that the WiFi at your location may not be strong enough to stream in the first place. Sometimes the fates just tell you to go out and do something. But it was at the end of a great couple of days in very hot weather and a little TV was what the imaginary doctor ordered.
A lot of people don’t have laptops anymore. But if you do, don’t forget that one 5 dollar accessory that can make it into a family entertainment device.