When you want to watch something on your smart TV, you can use a flash disk with your media and connect to it via one of the USB ports, stream online via the internet or connect to a Blu-ray/DVD player. The other thing you can do is connect your smart TV to a wireless NAS drive.
A NAS drive or Network Attached Storage hard drive is a storage device that looks like a big external Hard Drive that can hold vast amounts of your data. But that’s not the best part. A NAS drive isn’t just another granary for your music, photos and videos. You can turn it into like a Netflix of sorts streaming local media files to any of your wireless device connected to the same network. No internet is required. Also you get benefit of less cabling in the house.
There are several NAS drives in the market. For beginners, you can checkout the $293 Synology DS218+ NAS drive or the $269 QNAP TS-251B-2G-US 2 Bay Home/SOHO NAS. And if you are particularly looking for something designed for home entertainment experience, then the QNAP TS-251+ 2-Bay Next Gen Personal Cloud NAS is a good start. It has an HDMI port which you can directly connect to the TV and even a QNAP remote is included.
So how do you connect a NAS drive to your smart TV?
The easiest way is to use an HDMI cable which connects to the NAS drive’s HDMI Out port to one the TV’s HDMI in ports. The great thing here is that your TV doesn’t have to be Smart TV, only it should have at least one HDMI port. However, NOT all NAS drives come with HDMI ports built-in. I have already mentioned the QNAP TS-251+ as one of the options that fits the criteria.
The QNAP TS-251+ 2-Bay comes with an Intel Celeron Quad-Core 2.0GHz, 2GB DDR3L RAM, SATA 6Gb/s, 2 Giga LAN, hardware transcoding and HDMI Out port. It’s through this port that you can play Kodi or Plex directly to your TV. It also comes with a remote that you can use to control playback on the TV.
But you can also look at $300 ASUSTOR AS6302T. It comes with one HDMI port and has support for Plex media server. This ASUSTOR AS6302T 2 Bay NAS (Diskless) comes with the Intel Celeron Dual-Core 2.0GHz Processor, 2GB DDR3L RAM. For its media capabilities, it’s equipped with HDMI 2.0 for local HDMI multimedia output. This HDMI interface is what you can use to connect to your TV’s HDMI port.
Whatever NAS drive you get, it should run a media software such as Plex or Kodi which outputs some sort of User Interface via HDMI to the TV in similar way your laptops does when you connect it to the TV.
The most common way to stream content from NAS drive to a Smart TV is wirelessly. Both the NAS drive and Smart TV must be connected to the same wireless network usually created by a WiFi router. Most NAS drives don’t have Wireless LAN. Instead they come with one or two Giga Ethernet ports. So you can connect the NAS drive to the WiFi router via an RJ45 Ethernet cable. Then the TV connects to the router wirelessly via WiFi. This only works with Smart TVs since most of them have WiFi built-in.
For a better user experience, make sure you NAS drive supports media server such as Plex or Kodi. They support a media streaming protocol called DNLA or UPnP that basically make your NAS drive visible to the Smart TV.
Some Smart TVs have Ethernet ports too. So it’s possible to connect the smart TV to the router via an Ethernet cable. It’s much faster option since you don’t have to deal with WiFi signal issues.
So there you go; how to connect a NAS drive to Smart TV. If you have any other ways, let us know in the comments below;