Android Tablet: How Miracast WorksBy: Lacy Langley - September 25, 2013
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