How to video chat through your TV on Zoom and Google Meet

While video chat isn’t a substitute for in-person interaction, sometimes it’s the best you can do.

However, I never liked chatting through small screens. It’s so far away to be hunched over a phone or laptop, looking at a greatly reduced version of the person I’m talking to. That’s why it’s better to make video calls through your TV instead. When there’s a life-size person on the other end, it helps conversations feel more realistic.

It requires a bit of hardware that you might not already have, but now that video calls have become an accepted way to chat remotely, the extra parts could be a worthwhile investment. Here are seven different ways to set up video chat on TV:

Fire TV and Zoom

With Amazon Second Generation Fire TV Cube and a USB webcam, you can turn your TV into a big screen for Zoom calls. The webcam provides the video, while the Cube’s built-in microphone array picks up the audio. (The new from Amazon Fire TV Omni TVs also supports Zoom calls.)

[Photo: Zoom]

To use Zoom on the Fire TV Cube, you’ll need a compatible webcam (Amazon recommends Logitech’s C920, C922X, or C310) and a USB OTG adapter to plug it into the Cube’s Micro-USB port. Install the Zoom App on Your Fire TV Remote through the Amazon websiteor find it in the app store using the voice remote (just say Zoom!).

[Screenshot: Jared Newman]

Once you’ve launched the app, use the Sign In button to connect your account, then optionally set a PIN so that no one else can access Zoom on your behalf. You can then start a new meeting, enter a meeting ID, or join upcoming meetings from your calendar. If you have connected your calendar to Alexayou can also use the voice remote and say: Join my next meeting.

[Screenshot: Jared Newman]

Note that pressing the mute button on the Fire TV Cube to mute Alexa will also mute your camera. And by default, meeting audio will play through the Cube’s built-in speaker. To play audio through your TV instead, tap the gear icon in the lower right corner, scroll down to “Speaker” and select your TV from the list.

In addition to Zoom, you can make calls to other Fire TV and Echo users with Alexa Calling. To see which of your contacts have Alexa Calling set up, go to the Communicate tab in the Alexa mobile app, then tap the Call button.

Android TV and Google Duo

Android TV devices, such as Nvidia TV Shield and Chromecast with Google TV, also supports video chat via external USB webcams, but only with Google Duo.

[Photo: Google]

Depending on your device, you may need a USB-C hub Where Micro USB OTG power adapterwhich can power the streaming device while adding a USB-A port for the webcam.

Once everything is connected, download the Google Duo app on your Android TV device. When you first launch it, select “Allow” for any on-screen prompts. You can then select a contact or set up a group call.

Chromecast and Google Meet

When using Chrome on a laptop or desktop, you can mirror Google Meet calls to Chromecast streaming devices, Vizio SmartCast TVs, and Android TV devices.

During any meeting, just tap the three-dot vertical menu button at the bottom of the screen. As long as your Chromecast is on the same Wi-Fi network, you’ll see a “Broadcast this meeting” button at the top of this menu. Click the button and select your Chromecast device to start mirroring conference video to your TV.

Of course, you’ll still need to use your computer’s camera and microphone, and the meeting audio will stream to the computer rather than the TV. Still, mirroring can be useful for sharing a video call with a room full of people.

Chromecast screen mirroring

To use Chromecast with other video conferencing services, you must use screen mirroring, which requires an Android phone or computer running the Chrome browser.

To mirror your Android screen, download the Google Home app, then find and select your Chromecast-enabled device from the main menu. You will see a “Cast screen” option at the bottom of the next screen. Again, you’ll want to place your phone or tablet near the TV. The biggest challenge here will be convincing your fellow iPhone users to adopt Google Duo instead of FaceTime.

[Screenshot: Jared Newman]

To mirror your computer screen, click the vertical three-dot menu in Chrome, select “Cast…”, then click the “Sources” drop-down menu, select “Cast desktop” and choose your Chromecast device from the listing.

Be aware that Chromecast mirroring will drain your phone or laptop battery quickly, so keep it charged or plugged in.

iOS and AirPlay

If you have an iPhone or iPad, Apple’s AirPlay feature can stream video wirelessly to a TV. For this you will need either an Apple TV box ($150 for the HD model, $180 for the 4K), a compatible Roku deviceor one AirPlay-enabled smart TV.

To get started, swipe down from the top right edge — on all iPads and iPhone X or newer — or swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center. Tap the icon that looks like two overlapping boxes, then select your AirPlay device from the list. Switch to the appropriate input on your TV and you should see your iOS device mirrored on the big screen.

[Screenshot: Jared Newman]

At this point, you can use FaceTime or any other video chat app as usual. Your iPhone or iPad will still provide the camera and microphone, so consider propping it up against your TV or directly below it. This way you can easily keep an eye on the big screen while looking at the camera on your phone or tablet.

Macs also offer AirPlay, so you can use a similar setup to stream your video chats wirelessly, but I recommend a wired connection, as explained below in “Laptops and Cables”.

iOS and an HDMI adapter

The main disadvantage of AirPlay is that it plays sound through your TV speakers. If your device is too close or the TV is too loud, the people you’re talking to will hear their own voices echoing.

For a cheaper approach that works with any modern TV and eliminates the echo problem, use a Lightning to HDMI adapter instead. In my tests on Apple’s official $49 Lightning Digital AV Adapter, the audio kept playing on my iPad even with the video on the TV, so it didn’t pick up any echoes. You can also try an unofficial adapter, like this one for $20.

Setup here is even easier than AirPlay: just plug the adapter into an HDMI cable, plug the cable into the TV, and switch to the appropriate input.

Facebook TV Portal

I did not use Facebook’s dedicated TV device, but it’s an option for video calls via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Zoom. The $150 device has a built-in camera and microphone, sits above or below your TV, and plugs in via HDMI. (I still think Apple would be wise to build this kind of device itself, but that’s another story.)

Laptops and cables

If all else fails, you can always connect a laptop to your TV via HDMI.

Does your laptop have an HDMI port? If so, you’re in luck. Simply plug an HDMI cable from the laptop directly into your TV. For Macs without HDMI and Windows PCs with USB-C ports, you can use a USB-C to HDMI cable, such as this one.

Once plugged in, press Window+P on a Windows laptop to switch between display modes. Choosing “Second-screen only” will turn off your laptop screen when connected to the TV. If you have a 4K TV, you can also right-click on the desktop and choose “Display Settings”, then reduce the screen resolution to 1920 by 1080. Otherwise, you may get jerky video because your laptop is struggling to handle a 4K image.

On a Mac, there’s no way to turn off your laptop’s display with a TV or external monitor attached, but you can dim the brightness completely for a similar effect. If everything looks too small on your 4K TV, head to Apple > System Preferences > Displays, select “Scaled”, then choose the option below that says “Looks Like 1920 x 1080”.

As with the other mirroring options above, your laptop should be right in front of the TV for the best results, which shouldn’t be too difficult since they’re connected via an HDMI cable.

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