Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • PiP (Picture-in-Picture) technology is making a comeback on modern 4K smart TVs, allowing users to display multiple sources of video simultaneously.
  • PiP is useful for scenarios such as watching TV while scrolling through social media or playing games, keeping your phone and TV program on the same screen, and sharing a TV with others for multiplayer gaming or simultaneous use.

If you have modern 4K smart TV, chances are it can actually display more than one source of video at the same time. PiP (Picture-in-Picture) technology is back with a vengeance and it may be the best time in history for it to return.

What is PiP or Multi View?

PiP has been around for decades, with the first high-end TVs with this feature popping up in the 1980s, offering buyers the ability to show two feeds on one screen, usually with one video in a small window in one corner of the main image. “Multi View” is term used these days to describe PiP with more than just two feeds or two diverse sources, such as a smart TV app alongside live broadcasts.

With the advent of VCRs, later DVRs, and modern-day on-demand video services you may not think there’s much of a market for this functionality anymore. For a whole, you’d be right, and there’s certainly a period in the late 2010s when TVs didn’t offer PiP as often, but in the early 2020s it looks like multiple feeds are back on the menu.

It makes sense when you consider that people often “watch” TV while scrolling through social media, or playing games on a handheld. People will binge Netflix shows while working, or reading. We all seem to have multiple screens pointed at us all the time now, so why not come full circle and put all that content back on one central screen?

How to Activate Multi View

If your TV supports Multi View or PiP (it might have yet another name) then the exact way to activate this feature will depend on the brand and model of TV. In my case, I have a 2023 LG CS. To initiate this mode all I have to do is press the settings cog button on the magic remote.

Then from the webOS side bar, select “Multi-View.”

LG CS OLED menu showing the Multi-View option highlighted.
Sydney Butler / How-To Geek

From here it’s as simple as picking the sources (e.g. an HDMI source and a cast of your phone screen).

LG CS OLED showing the multi view options, such as Picture-in-Picture or side-by-side.
Sydney Butler / How-To Geek

Then enjoy watching multiple things at once.

A TV showing a Nintendo Switch menu screen as the main picture and a YouTube video in the bottom right corner.
Sydney Butler / How-To Geek

The general process should be the same for all TVs that have a similar feature to LG’s “Multi-View”, but you’ll have to look at the exact steps up for your specific model, if it has the feature at all!

Why Use PiP?

Apart from the obvious things, like keeping an eye on a sports scoreboard while watching a movie, why would you want to use PiP in this day and age? If you’re having trouble imagining why you’d want to make use of this feature, there are a few scenarios we can think of that perfectly fit modern lifestyles.

Keeping Your Phone and TV Program on the Same Screen

If you’re already doomscrolling while watching TV, why not save your neck and eyes the pain of constantly switching, and throw your phone screen right up there on the TV. Now you can be even more of a couch potato! We won’t judge.

Playing Games and Bingeing TV Shows

What’s more relaxing than grinding out mindless items and stats in a video game while your comfort show (it’s King of the Hill, isn’t it) plays in the background? Now you can do both.

Sharing a TV Using Picture-by-Picture

Devices like the PlayStation Portal to allow people to share a TV without having to wait turns to play on their console, or watch some Netflix. If your TV has a side-by-side PiP mode then you can both use the same TV at the same time. Of course both people will make a sacrifice in image size, but it still beats a tiny phone screen or handheld console! If you have two consoles, it’s also an intriguing option for multiplayer gaming, since local couch co-op seems to be dying as a feature in modern games.

Modern PiP tech is both easy to use, and incredibly flexible. So if you’ve already bought a TV with PiP capabilities, you should at least try it out once. Who knows, it might be your favorite new way of using your TV.

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By John P.

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