Tip o’ the Week #204 – Mirror, mirror, on the big screen


Many people who’ve had a new laptop in the last year will have experienced the frustration of showing up in a meeting room, only to find that you have no means of projecting onto the screen – there are at least 5 different types of connector that could go into the laptop, and 2 or 3 that might be supported by the screen in the room.

clip_image003Wireless projection has been promised for years, with a series of proprietary and clunky technologies that never really took off. All this is set to change, using a technology which started as a consumer function on high-end TVs, yet is filtering down to £200 tellies and will be mainstream on projection systems going forward. Maybe. For now, we have to live with a profusion of dongles while projecting at work, but what about in the home? Ever fancied delivering a PPT presentation to the gathered family?

Miracast” is a standard which allows devices – PCs and Android tablets, mainly (Apple does not support Miracast, preferring their own proprietary technology) – to replicate their display and sounds onto a remote device. Windows 8.1 now supports Miracast, and if your home TV is new, then you might well find it enables the screen mirroring technology too.

There are third-party Miracast devices which can bring wireless access to your “legacy” TV and sound system, potentially – EZCast HDMI WiFi adapters or the Netgear PTV3000. Maybe it’s worth treating your living room to some remote projection goodness?

A few things to check:

  • You can only use Miracast over WiFi – it’s not applicable using wired connections, and some WiFi networks won’t support it either.
  • Even if you’ve got an appropriate telly and a Windows 8.1 machine with the right kind of WiFi adapter, you may still need to get an updated display driver (either from your PC manufacturer or from Intel directly).
  • clip_image004Surface RT currently does not support Miracast even though the Nvidia Tegra 3 SoC that powers the original Surface, does. Surface Pro and 2 should be OK.
  • You’ll need to add the TV to your PC, akin to pairing a Bluetooth device – a one-off process that is pretty self-explanatory, though if it doesn’t go smoothly, return to the “update your driver” section.
  • As you may see, this is still not exactly Plug & Play…

Having said that, when it works – it works well. Think of Miracast as like HDMI over WiFi, so could be a way of streaming music to a TV connected to a sound system. Hello Xbox Music Pass, bye-bye Sonos?

To find out more, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to project and some more details on how it works, here.

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