A lot of our customers purchase high-value systems that do not have extra features, and unlike the flagship systems, they are limited in some of their capabilities. In my previous article, “Where is my Video Signal? Understanding Video Resolution!” I went over the ways the customer can view his cameras and also the types of video outs that our DVR/NVRs have. Not all of our units that we offer have the secondary HDMI port or Spot out. One of the most desired features that the user wants is to customize the view of his exciting CCTV system. It starts from viewing it in different locations and sometimes multiple views on multiple monitors. That is why customers are asking if there is a possibility to install one of our viewing apps on their smart TV. It is impossible to do since the smart TVs are sold with the manufacturer proprietary operating system and our viewing software and apps can only be installed on OS, Android and Windows devices. So, how can you connect the unit if it does not have any of the additional video outs and you still want to view your cameras on a big screen TV? There is a way to do it! If your TV set does not have the smart features, there is a trick to make it happen. That will be a great advantage for customers that have an old TV set or a projector.
The solution is a little device that looks like a USB flash drive and runs on the Android operating system. When I say little, it is not much bigger than a standard USB flash drive. What it does is basically turn your TV screen into a large Android tablet. Some manufacturers call it “Mini Android PC”. You will find plenty of those devices if you do a simple search on Amazon. I purchased mine for about $60 and a little wireless keyboard that is necessary so you can control your device which cost me about $20. There is a big variety of those devices so do your research in regards to capabilities of the specific device. Some of those Mini PC devices carry a lot of power and run on Quad core CPUs with 2GB of RAM. They all take a MicroSD card which makes your storage expandable up to 64GB of additional storage memory space. The device is connected to your TV via HDMI and all of them are Wi-Fi capable.
So the first thing you want to do is to connect the Mini PC to your TV via HDMI and power it. The device supports the 720p or the 1080p resolution and the picture is crisp on a standard 50 inch TV set. You can power it with the 5V power supply that comes with your device or do what I did and that is to power the device with one of the USBs of the TV set. It looks more aesthetic if your TV is mounted on the wall and your Mini PC is hidden behind your TV set with no cables visible running down the wall.
It is time to power on the device and make sure that you are on the right HDMI input on your TV set. You will have to go through an initial setup process the way you do it with any new Android device. Very important is to setup your Wi-Fi connection since this is your gateway to the outside world. Since this device is working similar to an Android tablet, you will need an account with Google so you can install applications from their Google Play store. After the setup, it will be a complete entertainment center including movies, music, web, games and apps, all on a small stick. The device comes pre-installed complete with Google apps such as Google Search, Gmail and Chrome browser. But the most important feature is the option to see your surveillance system on any TV set you choice.
To view the CCTV system all you have left to do is to install our app “TechproSS HD Lite” or “gDMSS HD Lite” from the Google Play store. After the installation of the app, setup of your CCTV system is required. Remember!!! If you are connected via Wi-Fi to the same network as your DVR/NVR, then you have to use the internal IP of the DVR. If your setup is at remote location and you are connected to a Wi-Fi connection that is not on the same network as the DVR, you have to use an external IP of the DVR/NVR. You can find more information on how to setup a remote access to your DVR/NVR on our website in the video vault section.
So what is the downside on those Mini PC devices? Well, not a lot. Just before buying the device, remember that there are a lot of Chinese manufacturers that manufacture those devices, and they are not always performed the way they are advertised. The Wi-Fi reception on some of those devices is just terrible. Make sure that you are buying a device that is well known and well reviewed on the market. Amazon’s reviews are a very good resource to find a reliable device. There are some devices on the market that have external Wi-Fi antennas and they are more sensitive to Wi-Fi signal. But there is no doubt that the best option is hard wired LAN connection which is always preferable over Wi-Fi connection.
The bottom line is if you want a solution that will replace a smart TV, the Android Mini PC is the way to go. You can see your CCTV system on any TV screen with HDMI port, which is a great solution for customers who want to stream their video content on multiple monitors without being limited by DVR/NVR features. Besides the CCTV capabilities the user gets a multimedia system that will add so much more to his experience or benefit him if he purchased it for business applications. Value per money??? Thumbs up for me!