Simple questions: What is Miracast and how do you use it?

At first there was the HDMI! Well, not really, but HDMI has been the main way of transmitting video and sound from a device to an external TV or monitor for more than a decade now. However, starting a few years back, a new contender has appeared and its name is Miracast - a technology that promises to let you connect your computers and devices to screens of all kinds, wirelessly and without any special equipment. Miracast is spreading quite fast and, even if you may have not heard about it, it’s very likely that you have at least one device in your home that supports this technology. If you want to know more about Miracast and how it can help you, read on:

What is Miracast and what does it do?

Miracast is a technology that lets you project wirelessly from your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, to an external TV or monitor. This is called screencast and it means that Miracast streams your device’s display and sound from your device to the external TV or monitor to which you connected wirelessly.

Because it allows you to do basically the same thing as an HDMI cable, which is to transmit video and sound from a device to a display, Miracast is often compared with HDMI. Some people even refer to Miracast as “HDMI over Wi-Fi” or “wireless HDMI”.

Here’s a video created by Wi-Fi Alliance that describes Miracast in a great way:

Wi-Fi Alliance, the worldwide network of companies that takes care of the standards used by our wireless devices, launched a certification program called Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™ in 2012 and, since then, many consumer electronics manufacturers have adopted this standard. Miracast has received a lot of support from Intel in its beginning, probably because Intel had already had its Intel WiDi solution even before Miracast was launched. Miracast also has the advantage of not being a proprietary solution, which means that any device from any vendor can be Miracast certified.

How does Miracast work?

Miracast is a standard that relies on WiFi Direct wireless network connections and it allows your device to stream video to the external display at a maximum 1080p Full HD resolution and 5.1 surround sound.

This means that Miracast works by creating a direct wireless connection between your device and your external display. Miracast doesn’t rely on your wireless home network. In a way, Miracast works similarly to an ad-hoc network.

In order to connect to the external display, your device creates a wireless network that uses the WPS wireless networking standard (WiFi Protected Setup) and is secured using WPA2, thus making the Miracast connections quite safe.

Miracast has one other great feature: it doesn’t care what kind of video or audio you’re streaming from your device to the external display. You can use it for displaying DRM protected files, DVD movies, music CDs and any other kind of media files, regardless of the codecs or formats they use. If you feel that you’d like to learn more about Miracast and all the things related to it, check this web page: Wi-Fi Certified Miracast.

On what devices can I use Miracast?

Miracast is a relatively young standard, as it was launched at the end of of 2012. However, it has received a great deal of attention from a lot of people and from a lot of major tech companies. As such, you can use Miracast on a whole bunch of devices and there are more getting Miracast certified each day.

The most important players of the tech world, all support Miracast on their devices and/or software:

  • Microsoft offers Miracast support in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile.
  • Google offers Miracast support in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and newer.
  • Amazon offers Miracast support in its Fire OS.
  • Many TV manufacturers sell Smart TVs with Miracast support included.
  • If your TV or external monitor doesn’t support Miracast, you can buy a Miracast adapter that connects via the display’s HDMI or USB port and brings Miracast capabi lity . There are many options to choose from - here are a few examples of some of the most popular are Miracast adapters out there: Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter , Belkin Miracast Video Adapter and ASUS Miracast Wireless Display Dongle.

How do you use Miracast?

Connecting your devices to your external displays using Miracast is easy and fast but it’s also a different process on each platform and operating system.

If you need help with that, we have a few tutorials ready for you. Here they are:

The pros and cons of the Miracast technology

There are plenty of advantages in using the Miracast technology, so there’s a big opportunity for it to be adopted by more people and companies in the near future. Here are some of them:

  • Miracast helps you get rid of cables and connect wirelessly.
  • Miracast connections between devices are very easy to set up.
  • You don’t have to have HDMI ports on your smartphone or tablet in order to be able to use an external display with them.
  • You don’t need to have a working wireless network in your house. You don’t even have to have a router.
  • You can take your Miracast dongle with you when you travel and you can use it to cast video from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to any TV or display with an HDMI port or a USB port, depending on the dongle that you use.

Like everything else in life, Miracast also comes with its disadvantages. Here are some of the most important:

  • Stability issues - although Miracast certified devices are designed and created to connect in a fast and easy manner, some Miracast connections are unreliable. It depends a lot on the quality of the devices that you are using for Miracast connections.
  • Latency is not standardized for Miracast. That means that you might see lags between what’s on your Miracast transmitting device and your external Miracast receiving display. For instance, if you want to play your favorite action game on your smartphone while connected to a large screen TV, the video or the audio might not be in sync with your actions. Again, it depends a lot on the quality of the devices that you are using for Miracast connections.
  • Display mirroring only - Google’s Chromecast and Apple’s AirPlay technologies are slightly better because they allow multitasking, not just screen mirroring.

Do my devices support Miracast?

On June 15, 2016 there were 5238 Miracast certified devices in the world. If you want to check whether a certain device you own or want to buy is Miracast certified, you can do that with a simple search on the official Wi-Fi Alliance website, here: Product Finder.

Conclusion

Miracast is a great technology and it can greatly change the way we interact with screens around us. Imagine that each and every display in your home is connected wirelessly to whatever device sends it video and/or sound. And imagine that you can connect your smartphone or tablet to any TV that is close to you. If Miracast continues to get better as well as being adopted more widely, it could replace our need for cables completely, when connecting to displays of all kinds. What do you think of this technology? Do you use it? What is your prediction of the future when it comes to Miracast?