Android Tablet: How Miracast Works

    September 25, 2013
    Lacy Langley
    Comments are off for this post.

More and more often, as of late, devices are supporting “Miracast.” Making its way into the mainstream, Miracast is a magnificent feature that could possibly wipe out other video streaming standards in a very fragmented Android market. Miracast acts like a wireless HDMI cable in order to mirror your Android device onto your TV screen in high def with audio. According to CNET, Once Miracast is enabled, everything, from the general interface, to apps and videos, is duplicated on the big screen, no need for a cable connecting the two devices. The thing that sets it apart is, it doesn’t rely on your home’s Wi-Fi network. Here’s how Miracast works:

Miracast is built on the underestimated Wi-Fi Direct technology, which was first introduced in Android 4.0. It allows a user to create a private (ad-hoc) network that allows other users to connect and share files. The technology didn’t easily catch on in the mainstream, but it paved the way for Miracast.

With Wi-Fi Direct as the foundation, Miracast doesn’t need to rely on your home’s network, becuse it creates is own. Your television creates the ad-hoc network, which is discovered by your Android phone or tablet. The two devices are paired, and data can flow freely between them.

The options are seemingly endless when it comes to what you can stream to your TV, and Miracast uses the H.264 codec to mirror videos in 1080p and 5.1 surround sound audio. Here’s the kicker, thanks to a DRM layer, even copyright-protected materials like DVDs and music can be mirrored.

To make Miracast work, you need a Miracast-compatible device and a Miracst TV or dongle. If your device runs Android 4.2 or later, you have Miracast, also known as the “Wireless display” feature.

Now, you set up your Miracast receiver. Though the tech is relatively new, a number of TV manufacturers like Sony, LG, and Panasonic, are integrating Miracast into their televisions, but, unless you purchased a TV in the last year, it’s probably not going to be Miracast-ready. In that case, you’ll need a dongle. Head to Amazon and you’ll see a myriad of Miracast dongles, and also, Best Buy creates one under its brand, Rocketfish. Most of these dongles cost around $40-60, and are only designed to do one thing, mirror your Android device.

Connect your Miracast dongle, switch your TV to input. Then, on your Android device, go to Settings > Display > Wireless display. Of course, this might vary a bit depending on your device. Now, turn the wireless display feature on, and wait a moment while the device searches for the Miracast dongle or TV. When it appears in the list, tap to connect, and a few seconds later, you’ll see your Android device duplicated on the big screen! Be aware that locking your Android will also black out your TV, so if you’re watching a movie, hook your Android up to its charger.

Now, I know some are thinking, “Isn’t this like Chromecast?”. Not at all, and here’s why:

With Miracast, your TV or dongle is dependent on your Android device the entire time the devices are paired, for example, if your Android goes to sleep, your TV’s screen blacks out, too. This co-dependency is a great advantage, but just remember to plug that thing in if you’re going to be a while.

In contrast, Chromecast only relies on the mobile device for a moment during the initial setup. Once the Chromecast receiver knows what content you want it to play, the mobile device holds none of the load, in which case you’re free to multitask, lock your device, or queue up the next video.

However, for this very reason, Chromecast is not nearly as dynamic as Miracast. It only works with compatible video and music apps and will not play DRM-protected content on your device. Now as for mirroring, Chromecast let’s you mirror you Chrome browser (in beta). That’s it.

Image via wikipedia

  • http://webpronews chris Carton

    A new Miracast TV – wireless adapter model is available for $39 through — TabletSprint — with features that compare to Apple’s Airplay device and with a lot more features than Chromecast — worthi checking out.

    • http://ebay mike

      I have connected the W18_DONGLE with 2 tv’s (sony, panasonic), one with USB integrated and one without, using external usb-adapter.
      The connection with both tv’s was not a problem, after some seconds the display of my tablet (pipo max m6, android 4.2.2) was on the tv.
      Photos appear on the tv, but using a slideshow, after a few seconds the photo is freezing on the tv, meanwhile the slideshow goes further on the tablet.
      Using youtube, a disaster, after a few seconds a disturbed display on the tv, youtube is playing on the tablet as it should be.
      Playing music from the tablet: a complete disaster, even the first notes don’t sound quite well.
      Playing a movie from the tablet, after a few seconds, freezing.
      Conclusion: this software/hardware may not be sold!

  • Sean

    Not true that Chromecast only lets you mirror your Chrome browser. You can mirror the entire desktop. You should actually get a Chromecast and use it before you publish articles about it.

    • ChromeCast

      That’s not true. Chromecast’s desktop mirroring is still a beta testing feature. You cannot really count this as a feature.
      The miracast supports 1080 as well as 5.1 sound. Can chromecast do this? I don’t think so.

  • Vector

    Note that more is required on your Android tablet than just version 4.2 of the OS(actually, Miracast support was added in version 4.2.2). There are also hardware requirements, particularly in the Wifi implementation. For example, although the original Nexus 7 (the Tegra 3 version) supports Android 4.2.2 and even 4.3, it does not support Miracast.

    • Ryan

      Nvidia says Tegra 3 does support Miracast. In fact they demoed it with a Nexus 7.

  • cindy

    Even though I have an Android tablet running 4.2 jelly bean, apparently my samsung tab 3 10.1 cannot do this mirroring thing. I can get it to find and connect to my netgear push2tv adapter via WiFi Direct, but the tv does not show the screen from the tablet. Samsung says this tablet is not compatible with their AllShare Cast adapter. Anyway to make this work, or must I buy another tablet?

    • rod

      I have same issue. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7, can see smart tv via wifi direct and connects fine, but nothing after that I.e. just remains connected. Is there anything else I need to do to initiate screen sharing?

  • Ray Harrell

    Why do you say, “If your device runs Android 4.2 or later, you have Miracast, also known as the “Wireless display” feature.” This simply isn’t true. Only certain devices have the ability to run Miracast. Where did you get your faulty information?

    • Wim Luijten

      So, you mean an older tablet is not upgradable?

  • dan

    android 4.2 has a wifi display feature for miracasting

  • Aziz

    I have samsung tab 3 Lite 7.0 inch…my device runs Android 4.2…but I can’t use miracast…how to enable it?