Miracast-Compatible Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes

Contents:

Background

Miracast and DLNA compatibility is becoming de rigueur for Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes now that Android 4.2.2 provides full support for the WiFi streaming format that enables smartphone and tablet owners project small screens to widescreen HDTV sets, as well as stream media wirelessly. NetworkWorld’s Steven Max Patterson (a.k.a. PhilAndroid, @philandroid1) asserted With Google’s IO conference just around the corner, the updates in this week’s Android 4.2.2 release probably could have waited for Key Lime Pie. But Android 4.2.2 is an important step for Android development in a deck for his Why Android 4.2.2 is an important update article of 2/21/2013:

imageGoogle released Android 4.2.2 for the Nexus 4, 7 and 10 this week. Some devices have already received over-the-air updates. Compared to Android 4.2.1, is there really anything important in this incremental release? With Google’s annual developer’s conference Google IO scheduled just 82 days from now, when Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie is anticipated to be announced, why would Google interrupt its course for an incremental release? Who should care? …

imageAndroid 4.2.2 enables developers who are building the next family hearth in the rapidly evolving and intensely competitive smart TV market. Samsung, LG, Sony and other smart TV manufacturers are working feverishly to avoid becoming just display companies whose products can’t compete with devices that stream content. Also competing is Apple’s Airplay, which lets iOS and Leopard users stream high-definition (HD) audio and video content to Digital Living Network Alliance (DNLA) TVs connected with Apple TV. Intel, with its wireless display standard WiDi, does the same for certain processors and some new LG and Toshiba HDTV models or any HDTV with a WiDi adapter.

Android’s open approach to streaming HD content to HDTVs incorporates the WiFi Alliance’s Miracast standard, which is fully compatible with Intel’s WiDi. Android 4.2.2 includes a stable Miracast feature that enables users to stream HD content from a smartphone or tablet on a HDTV equipped with an adapter. This is an important development for both the Android enthusiast and the Android entertainment developer. But, for the time being, it is just an appealing idea, another step toward the wonderful future in which TV and movies and other content can be selected from Hulu or Netflix smartphone apps and streamed to a large HDTV, for lean-back consumption by the entire family.

Android 4.2.2 includes enhancements and stability to WiFi Direct, an open source peer-to-peer WiFi project that enables direct communication between WiFi devices intended to let smart connected devices communicate directly with one another. Like Miracast, WiFi Direct eliminates a router to establish and control the communication. Tablets, smartphones, cameras, printers, PCs, and gaming devices that support WiFi Direct can communicate with one another, and developers of cool apps such as Smart Phone Ad-Hoc Networks (SPAN) can be deployed on unrooted Android 4.2.2 devices that support WiFi Direct. …

Android 4.2.2 is not a critical update for many smartphone and tablet owners. For the time being, it’s just for Nexus smartphones and tablets, and will debut as an update to newer mobile devices from companies such as Samsung, Sony and LG that also have a stake in the HDTV business and want a consistent consumer experience using branded mobile devices and HDTVs. In time, these important features will be insulated from the general Android user’s experience with intuitive apps.

As it turned out, Android 5.0 wasn’t announced at Google I/O 2013.

Eric Ravenscraft (@ocentertainment) jumped the gun a bit with his Android 4.2 Feature Highlight: So, What Is This Miracast Thing And How Does It Work, Anyway? article of 11/16/2012 for the AndroidPolice site:

imageAndroid 4.2 is out now and it brings a bunch of new goodies. Multiple users on a tablet, photospheres, and gesture typing are all pretty neat. What about this Miracast thing, though? If you’re part of the majority of Android users out there, you know that it involves screen sharing and something vaguely to do with WiFi. Well, here. Let’s clear some of that up for you.

So, Uh… What Is Miracast?

At its most basic level, Miracast is a video streaming specification created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. It allows a user to share whatever is displayed on their device’s screen with another compatible product. Whether that’s a TV, another smartphone, a tablet, or a desktop. The spec supports up to 1080p HD video and 5.1 surround sound. The dream is, you could download a movie to your tablet via the Play Store (or your preferred medium) and stream it to your TV without ever plugging in a cable and without sacrificing quality. Among other applications.

The neat thing about Miracast is it doesn’t require any special hardware to work. So unlike, say, a new wireless standard (e.g., 802.11n, 802.11ac), you won’t need to upgrade to a new device in order to use it. In theory anyway. More specifically, Miracast is built on top of WiFi Direct, which allows devices to utilize WiFi to communicate with each other directly, instead of having to hop on a mutual wireless router. There’s already a push to make more mobile devices support this standard, since it makes things like file transfers much easier, so Miracast support is already piggybacking on another train’s momentum. This will be good for support.

This Sounds A Lot Like Airplay…

That’s because it kind of is! The main difference is that, unlike Apple’s mirroring standard, this would be open so that any platform or device manufacturer could jump on board and support it. Even Apple! Though, probably not. As of right now, there are a number of major players who are willing to work on this including Intel, AMD, Broadcom, Ralink, NVIDIA, TI, Qualcomm, Marvell, MediaTek, and the Android platform. Of course, putting a bunch of brand names together doesn’t guarantee an awesome and mighty force to be reckoned with (I miss you, Android Update Alliance). Still, it’s good to see so many companies pay attention right off the bat.

Ultimately, though, the effect would be largely the same. Synergy between your devices. It’s an attempt to remove the wily wires, the confusing configurations, and the irritating interfaces from media sharing. Virtually every device you own has two-to-five ways to communicate wirelessly, right? Why can’t they just talk to each other and everything be simple? That’s the idea.

Sounds Great! So, Can I Use It Now?

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Maybe! To be honest, probably not yet, but it kinda depends on what devices you own. For example, did you know that Samsung already has a Miracast-based video streaming solution in some of its devices? It’s called AllShare. While this software is more or less limited to Samsung’s own brand of hardware, if you own a Galaxy S III, a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, a Series 7 Chronos laptop, and an LED 8000 Series Smart TV, then you can share content between any of them with relative ease! Of course, those four devices could also cost you over $5000 easily.

Outside of Samsung’s compatible-yet-still-proprietary solutions, the entries are pretty sparse. The Nexus 4 and 10 both support it officially, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a working demo of it. In fact, while Google claims the Nexus 10 can utilize it, the option is entirely absent. According to Ars Technica, a Google rep has stated the feature could be enabled in a future software update, but no indication was given as to when that might happen. The option is also missing from Nexus 7s and Galaxy Nexuses that have been updated to Android 4.2. This may be due to a lack of Miracast certification. It’s unclear when or if the option will roll out.

N4wirelessdisplayNexus 4 with Wireless Display option enabled. 

N10wirelessdisplay Nexus 10 distinctly lacking this option.

Since the hardware requirements are rather low, and the standard is already building on top of another spec that companies have reason to push rather hard, it’s reasonable to believe that, in a year, this will be about as ubiquitous as NFC is on smartphones now. At least among phones and tablets. Televisions will take a lot longer, especially if yours doesn’t have WiFi built in. Since people upgrade their TVs, computer monitors, laptops and desktops much less frequently than their tablets and smartphones, it will take a lot more time for you to find places to stream to.

The upshot is, if you really want it, you don’t necessarily have to replace your TV. Set top boxes, wireless dongles, and perhaps even Blu-Ray players can also act as Miracast receivers. If you’re in the market for a new device in this category, be on the look out for branding that indicates compatibility. You could buy a dedicated mirroring box like the Push2TV from Netgear. Beyond that, there isn’t too much outside of dedicated TVs. There will be, though. Here’s a list of components, chipsets, or products that are in development that will support Miracast:

• Broadcom Dualband 11n WiFi
• Intel® WiDi
• Marvell Avastar USB-8782 802.11n 1×1 Dual-band Reference Design
• MediaTek a/b/g/n Dualband Mobile Phone Client, MT662X_v1 and DTV Sink, MV0690
• Ralink 802.11n Wireless Adapter, RT3592
• Realtek Dual-band 2×2 RTL8192DE HM92D01 PCIe Half Mini Card and RTD1185 RealShare Smart Display Adapter

More are sure to come. Be on the look out for more devices that list ““Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™” among its features, as this is the officially-approved designation (PDF). I wish I had better news for you, but unfortunately, this is an extremely new product and you’ll be waiting a while to see it supported widely.

Okay… Am I Going To Forget About This For Years Until It Works?

To be honest, maybe. It’s a little like NFC in that regard. What you’re seeing here isn’t so much a brand new feature that everyone can use today (although some can), but more the groundwork being laid to do some really awesome things in the future. Remember when NFC was first announced and Android Beam looked amazing, until you realized your phone didn’t have NFC and you were a year and a half away from an upgrade? This is a little like that, only not quite as bad.

For starters, if you have a device without Miracast support, but you do have Wi-Fi Direct, it’s possible that it could be added in an update later. Possible. Not guaranteed. Among the things needed for this feature to become available are certification that it works with the new spec (not hard) and software to actually do it (much harder). This will either mean Android 4.2 will need to roll out to your device — so, see some of you in six months to a year—or some other app like Samsung’s AllShare will need to be made available. A lot of blocks need to fall into place here.

On the other hand, two or three years from now, it’s like that virtually every new phone or tablet sold will support Miracast. At that point, there will probably also be a wide range of set top boxes or dongles that can add the functionality to your TV or computer monitor. Heck, if we’re really lucky, maybe Windows will even support it on some hardware. Maybe not in the OS, but at least via some hardware certification and some software download.

In the meantime, if you’ve got the constellation alignment of devices that allows you to use it, have fun. Otherwise, abide by the mantra that all technology must endure: just keep waiting. It will get better.

The WiFi Alliance provides lists of interoperable Miracast-certified display devices and Miracast-certified source devices. Following is a typical certificate for a 2.4-GHz only Wireless Display Adapter from D-Link Corp.:

image

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The Miracast Standard

Following is the beginning of Wikipedia’s description of Miracast:

imageMiracast is a peer-to-peer wireless screencast standard formed via Wi-Fi Direct connections in a manner similar to Bluetooth. However, it works only over Wi-Fi and cannot be used to stream to a router access point.[1][2][3][4][5] It was created by the Wi-Fi Alliance and billed as an open alternative to Apple‘s AirPlay Mirroring. It allows users to, for example, echo display from a phone or tablet made by Company A onto a TV made by Company B, share a laptop screen with the conference room projector in real-time, and watch live programs from a home cable box on a tablet. Miracast sends up to 1080p HD video and 5.1 surround sound.

On 29 October 2012, Google announced that Android version 4.2 (updated version of Jelly Bean) will support the Miracast wireless display standard, and by default will have integrated features for it.[6] As of January 8, 2013, the LG Nexus 4 and Sony‘s Xperia Z, ZL, T and V officially support the function,[7][8] as does HTC One and Samsung in its Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II under the moniker AllShare Cast. The Galaxy S4 uses Samsung Link for its implementation.[9] … [Emphasis added.]

Unlike the Play To app on my wife’s Nokia 822 (see the DLNA with Windows 7 and 8 section below), which has no problem communicating with my UG007 Android MiniPC with DLNA, the Samsung Link app on my Galaxy S4 (updated 7/10/2013) will only communicate with DLNA devices that I register at link.samsung.com. I can’t register the UG007 because the Samsung Link site doesn’t support Chrome, Firefox or the default browser of my Android MiniPC. Samsung Link clearly isn’t a legitimate DLNA implementation.

See the Samsung Link and HomeSync, Samsung Introduces SideSync and HomeSync Lite at Premiere 2013 and Samsung’s US$300 SEK-1000/ZA 2013 Evolution Kit sections below for more details of Samsung’s hopefully futile attempt to coopt the Miracast spec with proprietary substitutes.


The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)

DLNA is an abbreviation for the Digital Living Network Alliance, which Wikipedia describes as follows:

image_thumb[3]The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a non-profit collaborative trade organization established by Sony in June 2003, that is responsible for defining interoperability guidelines to enable sharing of digital media between multimedia devices.[3] These guidelines are built upon existing public standards, but the guidelines themselves are private (available for a fee). These guidelines specify a set of restricted ways of using the standards to achieve interoperability.[4]

DLNA uses Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) for media management, discovery and control.[5] UPnP defines the type of device that DLNA supports (“server”, “renderer”, “controller”) and the mechanisms for accessing media over a network. The DLNA guidelines then apply a layer of restrictions over the types of media file format, encodings and resolutions that a device must support.

As of February 2013,[6] over 18,000 different device models have obtained “DLNA Certified” status, indicated by a logo on their packaging and confirming their interoperability with other devices.[7] It is estimated that more than 440 million DLNA-certified devices, from digital cameras to game consoles and TVs, have been installed in users’ homes.[8]

You can search for certified DLNA-compliant devices by manufacturer and model number here.


Intel’s WiDi (WirelessDirect) Protocol

Here’s Wikipedia’s description of Intel’s WiDi technology, which hasn’t been adopted as widely as Miracast:

imageIntel® Wireless Display technology enables users to stream music, movies, photos, videos and apps wirelessly from a compatible PC or Ultrabook™ to a compatible HDTV or through the use of an adapter with other HDTVs. Intel® WiDi supports HD 1080p video quality, 5.1 surround sound, and low latency for interacting with applications that are sent to the TV from a PC. Using the Intel® WiDi Widget users can do different things simultaneously on their PC and TV at the same time such as checking email on the PC or Ultrabook™ while streaming a movie to the TV from the same device. [1]

As of Intel Wireless Display version 3.5, the Miracast standard is additionally supported.[2]


Coltech Claims WiFi Display Dongle CM-GC03_RK and CM-GC03_EZ Are Miracast and DLNA Certified

Coltech Electronic Co., Ltd. (a.k.a. Cynmate) reported New Product !!! WiFi Display Dongle CM-GC03_RK and CM-GC03_EZ on 12/24/2013:

Cynmate Electronic promoted two models of multi-screen sharing WIFI Displayer–CM-GC03_RK&CM-GC03_EZ in this Christmas season.
As a professional wifi display device, it can project the mobile screen on the TV set timely and it is the most simple direct way to achieve multi-screen sharing .Now, It’s time to say goodbye with the MHL and HDMI cable. just use the wifi displayer to create a wonderful life in the big screen .


Please pay attention to this popular wifi displayer. it adopts the Linux system, supporting for three compatible models:EZCast、Miracast and DLNA 3, and easily push your Android mobile phone, I phone/I pad, Tablet PC screen to the displayer device. It has been widely used in the family, commercial, education and vehicle-mounted system.

Functions:

  • It is a strong multi-media sharing tool in the family. It can excellently switch the screen of the mobile,Tablet PC,Notebook to the big TV set and let you experience the multi-screen interactive.
  • Real time screen mirroring function, without delay,smooth images. The device should support Miracast.
  • Support duplex WiFi; you can use the mobile to display online internet video on the TV set;

Features:

  • High compatibility: supports the DLAN multimedia output on all of the mobile phone and PC operating system
  • 1080P high definition video output
  • small volume, easy tacking and operating
  • It also supports DLNA protocol, the protocol can support video, pictures, audio and other multimedia content broadcast on television, projectors and other terminal equipment via the software which under the Andriod,
    IOS, Windows, and other operating system platforms

Has the following features:

  • High compatibility: supports DLNA multimedia output of all mobile phones and PC’s operating system
  • Support Dual duplex WiFi under DLNA,can use mobile phones,Pad play online video directly
  • Screen mirroring function need to support terminal equipment of Miracast*

* Andriod 4.2 that Google has announced support for Miracast published standards, including Ying Wai  (NVIDIA), Texas Instruments (TI), Qualcomm, Realtek, Marvell, MediaTek, etc. The mainstream mobile phone chip manufacturers have announced the integration of Miracast standard in the chip.

EZCast’s powerful wireless home multimedia sharing tools, you can complete the phone, tablet, the screen switches to the perfect PC on a big screen TV. with Winner Wave wireless connectivity solutions to achieve the best multi-screen interactive experience

Related Reading:

* Items marked with an asterisk (*) were copied from this blog without attribution, which is not permitted.

Here’s a photo I took of the Coltech/Cynmate booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas, NV:

image

This product appears to be another reincarnation of the EZCast dongle.


Netgear Proposes NeoMediacast HDMI Dongle with Miracast as a Set-top Box Replacement

Netgear (@NETGEAR) delivered a NETGEAR Announces The NeoMediacast Dongle, Full-Featured Android Set-Top Box in Your Pocket press release on 1/6/2014:

image_thumb[4]LAS VEGAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–NETGEAR®, Inc. (NASDAQGM: NTGR) (www.netgear.com), a global networking company that delivers innovative products to consumers, businesses and service providers, has introduced the NETGEAR NeoMediacast™ HDMI Dongle (NTV300D) (www.netgear.com/ntv300d).

image_thumb[2]

The NTV300D is a customizable, Miracast®-enabled platform that enables telecommunications service providers to use the latest Android™ applications to offer their subscribers a veritable “curated content store” of both premium and free Over-the-Top (OTT) content. The NETGEAR NeoMediacast HDMI Dongle is among a number of new products that NETGEAR is demonstrating to press, customers and channel partners this week at the 2014 International CES® trade show in Las Vegas.

“The NTV300D platform supports seamless integration with other NETGEAR home connectivity devices so that service providers can offer a worry-free connected media solution to their subscribers, knowing they can trust the NETGEAR reputation for quality, reliability, and ease of use.”

With NeoMediacast, service providers can develop and operate a complete media streaming solution that supports their multi-screen video initiatives, where quick time-to-market is critical. The small, easy-to-use NTV300D integrates the Android SDK, giving service providers the tools to build their own premium content store. Another major benefit is that service providers can leverage the Android apps they have already developed to support linear TV on tablets and phones. Combined with NTV300D support for DRM, this offers service providers a low-cost alternative to set-top boxes. By supporting this seamless portability of existing Android applications and the cost-effective development of new applications, the NeoMediacast Dongle enables service providers to instantly turn any TV into a Smart TV.

“Consumers are clamoring for new options for accessing digital content across their screens, including their wide-screen HD TVs. With the NeoMediacast HDMI Dongle, our service provider customers have the means to provide a plug-and-play solution to their subscribers that also provides opportunities for additional revenue stream,” said Michael Clegg, senior vice president and general manager for Service Provider Business at NETGEAR. “The NTV300D platform supports seamless integration with other NETGEAR home connectivity devices so that service providers can offer a worry-free connected media solution to their subscribers, knowing they can trust the NETGEAR reputation for quality, reliability, and ease of use.”

image_thumb[7]The NETGEAR NeoMediacast HDMI Dongle provides uncompromising functionality and performance. It offers Miracast®-enabled wireless display, so that consumers experience intuitive sharing of content from their mobile screens to big screen TVs. Equipped with full HD 1080p/60 decode, there is no compromise in accessing the best content available, while integrated DRM support ensures access to premium content. The NTV300D also leverages best-in-class, next-generation 802.11ac wireless connectivity for a top quality viewing experience even with HD quality video. It integrates support for Bluetooth® 4.0 so Bluetooth-enabled remote devices connect seamlessly. Service providers’ subscribers will love the simple and easy installation afforded by the small form factor.

The NETGEAR NeoMediacast HDMI Dongle comes with a host of innovative features:

  • HDMI dongle form factor for small footprint
  • Android 4.2+ supported with RDK support in the future
  • 1080p/60 full HD, H.264/MPEG4 video decode
  • Supports HDMI 1.4 and HDCP 2.1
  • Miracast®-enabled
  • 802.11ac high-speed wireless connectivity
  • USB powered
  • Micro SD slot for playback/storage
  • Micro USB (OTG) for secondary storage
  • DRM support for Microsoft PlayReady™, Google Widevine® and Adobe® RTMPe
  • Remote control unit: RF4CE or Bluetooth® supported

“Subscribers want intuitive, plug-and-play access to all forms of video content across multiple screens in their homes. They also want simple integration with their home networks,” said Jeff Heynen, principal analyst covering broadband access, pay TV and video for Infonetics Research. “The NETGEAR NeoMediacast HDMI Dongle provides both, bringing true content integration to reality.”

Availability

The NETGEAR NeoMediacast HDMI Dongle (NTV300D) is scheduled to become available for service provider deployments in the first half of 2014.

More Information

Cross-posted to Current and Potential Chromecast Competitors.

Check out these reviews and articles about Netgear’s NeoMediacast:

* RDK is an abbreviation for Reference Design Kit. Quoting Jeff Baumgartner:

… The RDK is a pre-integrated software stack for IP-only and hybrid IP/QAM clients and gateways that’s being managed by Comcast and Time Warner Cable and designed to accelerate product development cycles. An RDK-optimized version of the NeoMediacast should be ready by the second half of 2014, with MSO tests expected to get underway by the third quarter, [Netgear director of product management Naveen] Chhangani  said.

Smaller, more portable devices are increasingly expected to become part of the RDK arsenal. Here at the show, Alticast said it will demonstrate an RDK-based HDMI set-top stick, but so far has not revealed its hardware partner for the project. Elsewhere in the emerging set-top stick universe,  Azuki Systems and LG recently teamed on an Android-powered streaming device that will serve as a small, IP-capable unit capable of handling authenticated TV Everywhere apps, cloud DVR services and transactional VOD fare.

In RDK environments, Netgear’s new dongle could be made to work in tandem with the vendor’s new “headless” gateway, the HMG7000, which would give the set-top stick access to a consumer’s “home cloud,” Chhangani explained.  As designed, that headless gateway includes a video transcoder that can convert QAM  video to streams that can be delivered to IP-based devices hanging off the wireless home network.

“Multiscreen is becoming a must,” Chhangani said.

The new NTV300D dongle is also capable of accessing content directly from the Internet-fed cloud.

Netgear did not divulge pricing, but Chhangani said the NTV300D will likely sell for in the sub-$50 range. The device itself can be powered by a TV’s USB port. [Emphasis added.] …

I’ll be at CES2014 later this week and will post updates with additional information I obtain at the show.


Visonicom Falsely Claims EZCast Dongle is DLNA and Miracast Certified

Visonicom is a Chinese organization located in the Shenzhen Special Economics District that claims to be the manufacturer of the EZCast WiFi HDMI display adapter. In its EZCast – Latest and most powerful WiFi display adapter Web page, Visonicom asserts that its EZCast adapter is DLNA Certified:

image 

and Wi-Fi Miracast Certified:

image

Neither of these certifications is valid for Visonicom as the manufacturer or EZCast as the product.

The DLNA certificate shown above of 2/5/2013 is for Actions Microelectronics Co., Ltd.’s EZMobile AM82XX Digital Media Player (DMP) and Digital Media Renderer (DMR), described as a Photo Frame, Projector and Mobile Device:

image

The Miracast certificate is for a different manufacturer (Acer) and product (MHL Wireless Adapter MWA2) described as a Projector, Photo Frame and Mobile Device:

image

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Clearly, it’s caveat emptor when purchasing display adapters claiming DLNA and Miracast certifications. Even more egregious is Visonicom riding Chromecast’s coattails with a device named “ezchrome”:

image

that copies exactly the trade dress of Google’s device.


Android Developers Reports Devices Running Android 4.4 KitKat Can be Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast

The Android Developers KitKat page states the following in its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™ section:

imageAndroid 4.4 devices can now be certified to the Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi Display Specification as Miracast compatible. To help with testing, a new Wireless Display developer option exposes advanced configuration controls and settings for Wireless Display certification. You can access the option at Settings > imageDeveloper options > Wireless display certification. Nexus 5 is a Miracast certified wireless display device.

I would have liked to have seen a screen capture of the Wireless Display Certification page, as well as a link to the Nexus 5’s certificate.

I’ll be interested to learn if RK3188 quad-core MiniPCs, such as the Tronsmart MK908ii and Rikomagic MK802IV, can be updated to Android 4.4 and used as a Miracast receiver device.


Microsoft’s Surface 2 Tablet Receives WiFi Miracast Certificate

Microsoft received the following WiFi Miracast Certificate for the Surface 2 Tablet with Wi-Fi Direct on 10/17/2013:

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Note that the Operating System is Windows RT, not Windows 8 or 8.1. The certificate was extended to the Surface Pro 2 on 10/23/2013. The original Surface was certified for WiFi a, b, g and n, but not Wi-Fi Direct or Miracast, on 9/24/2012.

image


Barbara Bowman Describes a Fix for Miracast on Original Surface Pro with the Window 8.1 Upgrade

Barbara Bowman described how to How to Make Miracast work on Surface Pro on 10/16.2013:

Microsoft broke Miracast for Surface Pro (original) users on Windows 8.1. They have not officially commented on this or provided any information on a fix. As pointed out on Twitter by Rafael Rivera, you can work around this by disabling and re-enabling your WiFi connection. Every time you want to use it. Hat tip to Paul Thurrott for letting the Twitterverse know that the Surface Pro 2 firmware and driver pack was available. (Note: there is still no new driver for the Surface 2 so the WiFi toggle is the only option).

Microsoft just released a Surface Pro 2 firmware and driver pack. This is NOT for the original Surface. At your own risk, you CAN download and extract the Marvell WLAN network driver (the chipset in both the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 is the same) and fix your issue instead of cooling your heels waiting for the Microsoft Surface team to even acknowledge the issue.

1. Download the  file from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=40856

2. Drill down to to the x64 folder inside the Marvell\WLAN\win81 folder    ..\October2013SurfacePro2.zip\Marvell\WLAN\win81

3. Copy ONLY the x64 folder to another location or folder and rename it so you know what it is. Something like x64Marvell driver would be a good name.

getdriver

4. Open Device Manager and expand to show the Marvell Wireless Network Controller

miracast2

5. Right click/press and hold to display Properties and select the Driver tab, then select Update Driver.

miracast3

6. Browser to the folder where the driver is located and click OK.

miracast4

7.Windows display the path to the driver. Click Next and it will be installed.

miracast5

8. Reboot when prompted.

9. If you open Device Manager, you will see the new driver

miracast6

10. Windows will now find the Miracast device when you select Project. (If you did not try the previous work around of toggling WiFi off and on, you may need to use Add a wireless display the first time you want to you your Miracast device).

miracastworking


Hammacher-Schlemmer Features US$99.95 Miracast and DLNA Dongle

Hammacher-Schlemmer (@Hammacher), a mail-order retailer which claims to have the oldest, continuously published catalog in the US, is offering The Wireless iPhone to TV Converter for US$99.95. From the description:

image

imageThis is the wireless receiver that turns a television into a large-scale monitor for a mobile device. Rather than crowding around a handheld, four-inch screen to view vacation movies, your audience can enjoy real-time, high-definition mirroring of video and audio on any HDMI-enabled TV, monitor or projector. Using standard Wi-Fi connectivity, the device translates all output on the mobile device – including games, phone calls, video conferences, and music playlists – to the bigger monitor, even displaying content in landscape or portrait mode, depending on the orientation of the source device. Connects to non-HDMI screens with the included USB cable. Supports Miracast for Android devices and DLNA for iOS devices. 5″ H x 2″ W x 1″ D. (1/2 lb.)

Some folks consider this a Chromecast competitor; I’d say it’s more similar to EZCast and IPush dongles. I believe the description should read “Connects to non-MHL screens …”, which don’t deliver power through the connector. Obviously, a free HDMI input is required. Perhaps the high price is justified by Hammacher’s “lifetime guarantee.”


Actions Semiconductor Offers iPush and iCast Android Apps for Mysterious Miracast and DLNA Device

Actions Semiconductor (Actions-Semi) is a fabless semiconductor supplier located in Zhuhai, Guandong, China. Google’s Play Store lists ActionsSemi as the seller of the iPush app:

image_thumb[4]

and iPush Mirror app for Android, which has phone screens similar to other DLNA apps:

image_thumb[7]

Following is the Google’s attempt to translate Action-Semi’s description:

iPush Mirror is Actions for the band WiFi Miracast function – iPush device development a powerful media sharing application.

Which iPush equipment not only through DLNA, Air Play on TV Phone peace panel video, music, pictures, the phone also supports WiFi Miracast and flat screen content is fully displayed on the TV, allowing you to achieve true multi-screen interaction, entering a new era of home entertainment! [Trademarks capitalized.]

Actions-Semi also offers the iCast app with similar phone screens and the following description:

The iPush app designed for iPush devices is a useful tool for sharing media files. You can share videos, music, photos, online video and TV program on the TV set with your family or friends easily. Sharing your happiness, start over here.

Actions-Semi updated iPush to v1.9.10 and introduced iCast v1.0.0 on 8/8/2013; they updated iPush Mirror to v1.1.8 on 8/26/2013. All three versions share the same What’s New details (Google translation):

    • Discover the sharing devices automatically.
    • Push your media files to the TV set.
    • Playback movies, music, pictures locating on the other sharing devices.
    • Configurate the IPush device with your phone/pad.
    • Supporting 800*480, 1280 * 720, 480*320 resolution

I’ve ordered a MOCREO M1 RK2928 iPush HDMI Wireless Adapter Airplay Miracast Receiver for iPhone / Android Phone from DealExtreme for US$25.90, including shipping via Hong Kong post to evaluate the seller’s Miracast- and iPush-compatible claims. Actions-Semi markets the ATV6007B Smart Living Room SoC, which appears to compete with the Rockchip RK2928. Therefore, I’m not sure if the MOCREO M1 uses iPush or iCast apps. I’ll update this or a related post when I receive and test it.


AliExpress Reports 256 Miracast TV Stick Products Available from 23 Chinese Suppliers

A modern-day Scheherazade might title the results of a search for miracast tv stick on this Chinese website “AliExpress and the 23 Thieves.” Shenzhen Xinlinuo Technology Co., Ltd. is the ringleader with this description Miracast Certified Wireless HDMI Adapter Smart Life! WIFI Dongle Miracast TV Stick for an “OEM V5” product:

image

What’s worse is the firm’s inclusion of a Google Chromecast screen in its detailed advertisement of this sham product (scroll down):

image

Miracast has enough problems with firms who have actually certified devices as Miacast compliant that aren’t, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S4 (see my Samsung Galaxy S4 Screen Mirroring Is Not Miracast Compliant article of 8/1/2013), without bogus claims of Miracast and Chromecast compliance by numerious fly-by-night Chinese electronics dealers.



Tech Journalist Mistakenly Contends New MHL 3.0 Spec Does “Miracast One Better”

Andrew Cunningham (@AndrewWrites) asserted “Updated standard does Slimport and Miracast one better” in a deck for his Get 4K video from your phone’s USB port with the new MHL 3.0 spec article of 8/20/2013 for ArsTechnica:

imageSimultaneous charging is one of MHL’s advantages over Slimport and Miracast.

MHL Consortium

imageThe Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) standard already lets you connect certain phones, tablets, and other devices to your TV using adapters that connect to the devices’ micro-USB ports. But the consortium has just announced that an upgrade is coming: the new MHL 3.0 standard adds support for 4K displays. This will allow mobile devices that support the standard to output 3840×2160 (also known as 2160p) video at up to 30 frames per second, an upgrade from MHL 2.0′s 1080p.

imageThe updated standard can transmit data and video simultaneously, and a device connected via MHL can draw up to 10 watts of power to charge your device. Backward compatibility with MHL versions 1.x and 2.x, HDCP 2.2 DRM support, and 7.1 channel surround sound support are also part of the standard.

The MHL standard competes with a few standards (as well as Apple’s proprietary AirPlay), all of which are designed to put your phone or tablet’s display up on your TV. There’s SlimPort (used most prominently in Google’s Nexus 4 and 2013 Nexus 7), a DisplayPort-compatible spec which like MHL uses the micro USB port to connect over HDMI. There’s also Miracast, an Airplay-like standard that uses a Wi-Fi-equipped receiver to beam video to your TV without the use of cables (Miracast support was baked into Android beginning in version 4.2, but it’s also included in a smattering of other devices). Neither standard supports 4K video at this point, making MHL 3.0 slightly more appealing for those on the bleeding edge of TV technology.

The new standard will be available to download from the MHL Consortium in September. The standard is backed by a number of companies that make up the consortium, including Nokia, Samsung, Toshiba, Sony, and Silicon Image, Inc.

Cunningham compares apples and oranges; Miracast is a wireless, not a wired protocol. There’s no way you can wirelessly charge a smartphone battery with WiFi. It’s questionable whether any smartphone will capture 2040p (4K) video in the foreseeable future. If otherwise, would consumers pay for it?


CNXSoftware Reports New Miracast Adapters Will Use Mediatek MT8636 SoC

CNXSoftware (@cnxsoft) described Miracast Adapters Coming Up with Mediatek MT8636 SoC in an 8/7/2013 post:

It’s already possible to use Android mini-PCs such as T428 as a Miracast adapters, and we’ve also seen low cost HDMI dongles based on Actions Semi ATV6003 and Rockchip RK2928 that should eventually work as Miracast adapters, and sell for less than $30 retail. But there’s now a new SoC targeting DLNA/Miracast adapter: Mediatek MT8636. I don’t have any details about the SoC itself, but I could find a few Chinese companies working on the solutions. The most common is the one shown below, which can be called W18, SH-18, or WFD-04 depending on the company.

MT8636_Miracast_AdapterThe device is said to have the following specifications:

  • SoC – MT8636 highly integrated SOC
  • System Memory – 128MB DDR3 (TBC)
  • Storage – 128 MB Flash (TBC)
  • Wi-Fi – MT7601 WiFi 802.11b/g/n with Wi-Fi direct
  • Video Decode – 1080p H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) CBP, MP, HP at L1 to 4.1
  • Audio Decode – LPCM and optional AAC
  • Video Output – HDMI V1.4,  HDCP 2.x (optional)
  • Wireless display content up to 1080p HD resolution, with latency < 200ms
  • USB – microUSB for power
  • Power consumption – Up to 2.5W (5V/500mA)
  • Dimensions – 38 x 90mm

Hopefully the latency will be less than 100ms most of the time, and not just less than 200ms, as greater latency would affect the user experience. As usual, it’s very difficult to find the manufacturer, but I assume it could be Menoda Technology, a Shenzhen based manufacturer, that sells the device as W18. There’s also another company called RFTech that makes CPM218, a device with similar internal specifications, but a different enclosure.

The only information about price I could currently find is a 50 pieces lot on Aliexpress that goes for $45 per unit, which IMHO is too high for this type of product. There’s also a quick start guide on this Aliexpress page that shows the list of supported devices including Samsung Galaxy S4/S3/Note II/Note 10.1, Nexus 4, LG Optimus G, etc…

Google’s highly successful Chromecast has established an effective price cap of US$35 for all video or screen casting dongles.

It will be interesting to see if any Chinese manufacturer claiming Miracast compatibility for a dongle obtains interoperability certification from the WiFi Alliance. I’m surprised claim for compatibility with Galaxy S4 and other Samsung devices. As noted in my Samsung Galaxy S4 Screen Mirroring Is Not Miracast Compliant article, Samsung’s own technical team says the S4 isn’t Miracast compliant. 


Google’s $35 Chromecast Dongle Emulates Miracast with Chrome Browser

imageGoogle hasn’t claimed Miracast compatibility (as of 8/2/2013) for its Chromecast device, but you can use an experimental feature in the Chrome browser v28.0.1500 or later to share (cast) the full screen with your Miracast dongle. The secret is to click the Chrome Cast icon in the address bar to open the Cast This Tab To … menu and click the highlighted button to open the Cast menu (v28.0.1500.95 m is shown here):

ScreenCasting2-575px

Click the Cast Entire Screen (Experimental) option to begin casting in full-screen mode. You can expect a significant delay between the time you select full-screen casting and appearance of your device’s screen on the HDTV display.

Ryan Whitwam (@RyanWhitwam) discussed this feature in his Chromecast tab casting: How to stream your desktop, browser, and local media to your TV (video) article of 7/29/2013 for ExtremeTech and says this about tab casting:

imageTabs are sent to the Chromecast locally, whereas all the standard video streaming from phones and tablets comes down over the internet. The tab casting seems to be slightly more delayed than video, even though it’s only moving across your WiFi network — possibly due to processing overhead.

imageThe default mode is to only send the page over to the TV, cropping out the Chrome interface and operating system UI. This is probably what you want for most applications. You can get to various video providers that aren’t supported by native apps, and check out regular websites on the TV. The lag makes the latter a bit awkward, but it’s workable.

The Google Cast extension also allows the Chromecast to display the entire desktop as well, but this is labeled “experimental.” It’s in a drop-down menu within the standard tab casting popup. The lag is roughly the same as I saw with the regular tab casting, even while pushing over my multi-monitor desktop. Impressive.

Tab casting can also be used to route locally stored content (such as downloaded TV episodes and movies) to the TV, which is not really what Chromecast is designed to do. Simply use Chrome to navigate to a location on your hard drive by pasting the file location into the address bar (a network drive would probably also work). Chrome can play back almost all audio files and many video files natively. Both H.264 MP4 files and WMV encoded videos play just fine.

Tab casting is already incredibly robust for a beta feature. It will be quite interesting to see where this feature goes in the future. It’s not quite to the level of Apple AirPlay mirroring on iOS, but it’s getting close.

Now read: Chromecast hacked: It’s based on Google TV and Android, not Chrome OS

Darren Yates (@darrenyatesau) explained Chromecast vs Miracast – what’s the difference? in a 7/27/2013 post to the Minipute.com site:

imageWith Google launching its new $35 Chromecast dongle, there’s a bit of confusion around how it compares with Android 4.2′s new Miracast feature and whether or not the two are the same thing.

imageSo what’s the Chromecast vs Miracast story? Miracast is a new feature integrated into Android 4.2 that allows two supporting devices to create a direct ‘peer-to-peer’ connection between themselves over Wi-Fi for the purpose of audio-video mirroring. It’s a bit like Intel’s WiDi (wireless display) technology. In fact, WiDi supports Miracast as of version 3.5. The idea with Miracast is that it allows you to transmit up to 1080p (1920×1080-pixel) video and 5.1-channel digital audio over a direct-connect Wi-Fi link between say your supporting phone and a Miracast dongle on your big-screen TV. In that regard, Miracast is a bit like using a Bluetooth audio dongle where audio is played and transmitted from an Android smartphone via Bluetooth to a tiny Bluetooth dongle connected to your audio Hi-Fi setup.

Chinese chipmaker Rockchip recent demonstrated a Miracast dongle it believes could be made for $10 or integrated into smartphones or tablets at low cost, so the technology isn’t expensive.

Chromecast is similar but works differently. It’s basically a single-function mini PC that streams video from  the web via its own Wi-Fi hotspot that must link into your existing Wi-Fi network. So rather than a direct connection like Miracast, Chromecast links into your Wi-Fi network. It also runs an embedded version of Chrome OS that basically runs video through a built-in browser. You initiate playback of videos from a PC (Windows, Mac OS X or Linux) or from a mobile app. In this regard, it’s more like a simple network media player but with support for online services such as YouTube and Netflix.

So putting it more simply, Miracast is a way of transmitting HDMI-grade audio and video over a direct peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network with another Miracast-capable device. Chromecast is more like a network media player you control via web browser or mobile app like Plex or XBMC where your mobile device acts like a remote control rather than originating playback device.

For a tutorial on tab casting, see my Casting MPEG-4/H.264 Video Files with Chrome from a Windows Laptop post.


Google’s $35 Chromecast Dongle Might Redefine the Media Player Market with Miracast

This article was moved here because Chromecast isn’t Miracast-compatible.


Forthcoming OVO Media Player Claims Will Support Miracast

Update 9/6/2013: Indiegogo reported on 9/6/2013 that OVO raised only US$37,051 of its $100,000 crowdfunding target, so the fate of the OVO remains in doubt.

CNXSoft (@cnxsoft) reported forthcoming $49 OVO Egg-Shaped Media Player Helps You Collect and Organize Online Videos With your Smartphone on 8/2/2013:

imageIf you’re often watching online videos on your smartphone, and when back home, you’d rather continue watching those on your television, OVO may be for you. The device is a tiny media player shaped like an egg, with a multimedia processor, a minimum amount of RAM and flash, and Wi-Fi.

ovo

The full specifications haven’t been provided, but here’s what we know about the hardware:

  • SoC- Full HD Media Processor
  • System Memory – 2Gbit DDR3 (256 MB)
  • Storage – 2GBit NAND Flash (256 MB)
  • Connectivity – 2×2 WiFi 802.11b/g/n single-band
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4
  • Dimensions – 61.85 mm (h), 63.32 mm (w), 72.78 mm (d)
  • Weight – 77 grams

There’s no word about the OS, but it’s probably running some sort of Embedded Linux distribution. Another interesting point about the hardware is that the Wi-Fi module is not placed horizontally, but inclined, and according to the company this improves Wi-Fi reception compared to other devices with a chip antenna.

Typical Home Setup with 3 OVO

Typical Home Setup with OVO Connected to Each TV

On the software side, you’ll need to install OVO-Q app on your smartphone (Android-based or iPhone), which will connect to OVO-Q Cloud, and allow you to:

  • Autoplay – play selected online videos simply by pressing on the OVO.
  • Resume – watch videos continuously at different locations.
  • Switch Play – switch video play between your handheld device and the OVO.

The OVO device itself also supports the following features:

  • Miracast – mirror your screen to TV. [Emphasis added.]
  • My Mediashare media contents from your mobile device to TV.
  • Media Apps - play media contents to TV from 3rd party Media Apps, including DLNA-compliant and proprietary services. More content services will be provided, including Apps offering substantial Chinese videos.
  • OVO Remote and OVO Setting - turn your smartphone into a remote controller when playing selected videos on TV, or change your OVO hardware settings.

OVO_App

The best way to understand what the device does, is probably to watch the Indiegogo video below.

In some ways, the hardware and software features looks similar to Google Chromecast, but those are actually different products. First OVO is also a Miracast and DLNA adapter, features that AFAIK are not available (yet) with the Chromecast. Chromecast interact with online services, whereas OVO seems to deal with your own videos only (TBC). OVO will be available in Europe, North America and Taiwan, when it’s shipped in October 2013, whereas it’s not clear when Chromecast will be available outside the US.

If you’re interested, you can pledge $39 (Early birds), and later $49 to get the device hopefully shipped in October. The campaign is not available internationally, and they will only ship to Europe, US, Canada, and Taiwan. Shipping is free to the US and Taiwan, but you have to add $20 to ship to Canada and Europe. There are also twin pack, family and company pledges to order more OVOs, at a lower per unit price, or with some extra goodies (e.g. HDMI cables).

Thanks to CSilie for the tip.

I’ve pledged $39 and will report my results, if and when I receive an OVO.


EnyTech PTV-01 TVStick supports Miracast or DLNA

The AndroidPC.es blog posted Analysis: Adapter DLNA/Miracast EnyTech PTV-01 (Bing translation to English) on 7/5/2013:

Today [we] analyze this DLNAdevice /Miracast thanks to a Sample offered by Eny Technology these systems to disseminate multimedia media via wireless every day are more numerous and are certainly useful in some scenarios. This device combines two wireless distribution facilities in the same unit more extended between mobile devices.

For OEM/ODM information with Eny Technology. Also available on Aliexpress from €38 (US$47.49) including shipping and EBAY (US$64.88). [US$ added.]

Specifications

  • CPU Mips 500 MHz
  • 256 MB of DDR3 memory
  • Wifi Realtek 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz 150Mbps
  • Operating system based on Linux
  • Connection microUSB OTG

The Miracast function is supported at the moment with the Smartphone LG NEXUS 4, 2/2s XiaoMi, SONY xperia and HTC ONE with Android 4.2. In addition to other models of tablets that have the option “display wireless”.

image

Is available as an alternative application MirrorOP from Realtek which gives access to Miracast works it to other Android devices to this function, is necessary to be Root and purchase a license of use.

It is also compatible with Samsung Galaxy S4 using the newly released ROM Google Edition, the MirrorOP app does not work with a Samsung official Rom. It seems that the only [a] Korean company can make Miracast with their own original devices (expensive). …

MIRACAST

Double-clicking a clip on the inside of the device button go to mode Miracast which we have to activate on our Android device from settings > display > screen wireless. Our Android will detect the Wifi network that creates the Stick Miracast and we can connect directly.

Can also use the app MirrorOP from Realtek, is necessary to be Root and purchase a license of use.

As you can see in the following video connection is immediate and is fully transparent, simply have directly the content of our Android screen on TV, no more complications, a system that is called to the success in the future no doubt.

See the original post for an embedded video Miracast demo. ShenZhen HiDeer Technology Co. Ltd. describes the device as Hot Miracast Dlan DLNA WIFI DISPLAY All Share Cast Wifi Display Dongle PTV-01 for Nexus 4, Samsung S3 S4 Note 2 Push to TV big Screen on the AliExpress site:

  1. Support LCD TV, Monitor and Projector which have HDMI input slot.
  2. Support Miracast , DLNA, MirrorOp wireless transmission protocol
  3. PTV have 2 working mode: DLNA & WIFI DISPLAY

Notice:

  • PTV-01 support all Android Phone and Tablet PC with Miracast / Wifi Display Function
  • LG Nexus 4 Have wifi display Function
  • SamSung S3,  S4, Not II have AllShare Cast function.

The above indicates to me that the PTV-01 supports Samsung’s AllShare for DLNA features. There’s no mention of a Google ROM requirement for Miracast screen mirroring.


Reko QT800 AllWinner A20-Powered MiniPC Claims to Support Miracast

CnxSoft posted Reko QT800 mini PC Based on AllWinner A20 Comes with Dual Band 300Mbps Wi-Fi (Maybe) on 7/12/2013:

In an HDMI TV stick market now dominated by Rockchip RK3066 and RK3188 based devices, Reko QT800 is one of the rare AllWinner A20 mini PCs. It comes with 1 GB RAM, 4 to 8 GB flash, as well as dual band Wi-Fi (2.4/5.0Ghz) that is said to support up a Wi-Fi connection up to 300Mbps.

Reko_QT800

Reko QT800 Specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A20 dual core Cortex A7 @ 1.5GHz (yeah, right… 1GHz is more like it) with Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 4 to 8 GB Nand Flash + micro SD slot (up to 32 GB)
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4/5.0 GHz – 300 Mbps)
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 (1080p)
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x micro USB port for power, and 1x USB 2.0 Host port
  • Button – Recovery button
  • Dimensions – 106*33*14mm
  • Weight – 34g

The devices runs Google Android 4.2.2, and according to one seller on Taobao, and a few other Chinese websites, QT800 is said to support DLNA, Airplay, and Miracast (with a special ROM???), and dual band Wi-Fi with support for 300Mbps connection. This latter claim, even if true, may not bring much performance improvement.

I can’t find if the device comes with cables and power supply, since none of the sellers thought it might be a useful indication… Sellers on Aliexpress do not mention dual band Wi-Fi, 300Mbps claim, nor Airplay support, and sell it for about $44 including shipping.

The TaoBao seller’s REKO QT800 dual-core Android 4.2 mini-computer MK802 adapter Miracast set-top box item (Bing translation) emphasizes its Miracast capabilities, but I believe many claims by Chinese vendors are for Miracast sender/transmitter capability and don’t cover the receiver (Miracast dongle) feature that mirrors sender/transmitter screens to a monitor/HDTV set. I recommend waiting for reviews that explicitly test Miracast receiver capability before making a purchase.


Giayee TVB103 TVBox Supports Miracast and Provides VGA/Audio Outputs (Coming Soon)

Brad Linder (@bradlinder) reported a forthcoming TVB103 quad-core Android TV box with VGA, HDMI output in a 6/14/2013 post to his Liliputing.com blog:

imageIt’s not hard to find an Android-powered TV box with a Rockchip RK3188 quad-core processor these days. But it is unusual to find one with a VGA port, as well as the usual HDMI output.

imageThe Giayee TVB103 is one of the few devices I’ve seen which fits the bill.

Giayee TVB103

imageIt’s a device that you can plug into a television or monitor to run Android apps on the big screen.

In addition to the video ports, it has RCA jacks for audio, an S/PDIF port, and a 10/100 Ethernet jack. The device also features WiFi and Bluetooth. There are also 2 USB ports for connecting a keyboard, mouse, remote control adapter, or external storage.

It’s powered by Rockchip’s fastest ARM Cortex-A9 processor and the TVB103 features up to 2GB of RAM and 8GB to 32GB of built-in storage. There’s a microSD card slot if you need extra storage space.

Unfortunately one thing we still don’t know about the Giayee TVB103 is the price.

tvb103_02

via AndroidPC.es

I believe few potential TVBox customers are interested in VGA video, but audio input/outputs and a wired LAN connection are desirable features. See Giayee’s specifications sheet (PDF) for explicit Miracast support details:

image

Price information is missing.


Google’s Rumored $35 Miracast Dongle

Kellex asked Is Google Creating a $35 HDMI Dongle Called Chromekey? in a 6/7/2013 post to the DroidLife blog:

image_thumb15The week leading up to Google I/O, we received a tip that mentioned the possibility of Google announcing a product called Chromekey. At the time, we thought this was going to be an HDMI-style dongle that could plug in to any monitor or TV in order to make Chrome OS accessible on any screen at a low price point. While we still believe there is an HDMI-style dongle in the works called Chromekey, new information points towards it being more of a receiver, that can interact with your smartphone, tablet, or computer to extend not only a Chrome experience, but also streaming video and other content to your TV.

Let’s talk about what we think we know.

What exactly is Chromekey?

Chromekey is an HDMI dongle that can plugin to a TV or monitor and then display mirrored content from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. It allows you to put a Chrome browser onto a big screen, or stream videos and access other apps from smaller screens to your TV.

How does it work?

In order to use Chromekey, you’ll need to have an open HDMI port on your TV. Once connected to your TV, it’s powered by a USB cable (plugs into TV or AC adapter), attaches to your local WiFi network, updates automatically to new software, and is an extension of the content you consume on your other devices.

image_thumb81You will be able to “CAST” the Chrome browser from your phone, tablet, or computer to your TV so that you can enjoy the full internet on any display. But beyond just Chrome, the Chromekey will allow you to mirror content from YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix directly to your TV. You could even pull up sites like Hulu, ABC, Google Maps, or other video sites.

It is our understanding that Google Chrome will receive an update in the near future that will allow it to mirror itself to other screens (so be on the lookout for that). We would also assume that an update to the mobile versions will include a “CAST” icon that when pressed, turns blue to let you know that you are connected to a TV. This is likely similar to what you see with the YouTube app currently.

So that also means that future apps could have “CAST” support built in, that would allow you to mirror them to your TV with the press of a button.

What are the specs?

The specs won’t blow you away by any means, but since it’s more of a receiver than a powerhouse computer, you shouldn’t expect them to. We’re looking at an HDMI plug, a single core processor, 2GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, VP8 (Chrome mirroring), CEC compatibility, video resolution at 1080p, and is powered by USB (or an adapter).

Availability and price?

According to sources, the Chromkey will launch for $35 on Google Play, at Best Buy (both online and in stores), and through Amazon. For a limited time, Google may even offer free shipping should you pre-order the device.

Still no word on a launch date, but it sounds as if it could be ready in the “coming months.” That’s not much of an exact time frame, and we were sort of expecting to see this at I/O and didn’t, so it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

Interested in a product like this? At that price point, it seems like a product you would want a couple of, to attach to every TV in your house.

US$35 appears to me to be an unrealistic MSRP for a MiniPC with WiFi, even with the low-end specs that Kellex reported. But Rockchip’s new ultra low cost Miracast dongle prototype could make a US$25 dongle possible. Note that all current MiniPCs and TVBoxes “… allow you to mirror content from YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix directly to your TV” with DLNA.

Update 9/6/2013: Kellex obviously got the story wrong.


Rockchip’s Ultra Low Cost Miracast Dongle Design

CnxSoft reported in their Rockchip Unveils RK3168 Dual Core Processor, Showcases $10 Miracast Adapter article of 4/14/2013:

… Rockchip The company also had a few demos to show some new features for Android such as multiple windows support,  hand writing recognition, and Miracast with Android 4.2.2 with about 80ms lag. Chen Feng, Vice President at Rockchip, explains that 720p is working fine but 1080p may be more challenging for both the Miracast source and display.

Linux based Miracast Adapter Powered by RK2928

Linux based Miracast Adapter Powered by RK2928

Speaking about Miracast, they also have an ultra-low cost Miracast dongle built around RK2928 running Linux with 16MB RAM and a small NOR flash that can be produced for as low as $10 US. This is obviously the manufacturing price or possibly just BoM cost, but it still means we should be able to buy Miracast adapters for $20 to $25 in a few months. … [Emphasis added.]

Read more: http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/04/14/rockchip-unveils-rk3168-dual-core-processor-showcases-10-miracast-adapter/#ixzz2YeSkmYBe

Some folks would be willing to settle for a 720P Miracast dongle for US$20 to $25. The RK2928 would make Google’s erstwhile Chromekey device practical if it can render Miracast at 1080p.


$25.60 iPush WiFi DLNA Adapter for Android

DealExtreme dropped the price and Miracast feature claim after CnxSoft posted a $32 iPush Wi-Fi DLNA / Miracast Adapter for Android report on 5/31/2013:

Last time I wrote about Miracast / DLNA dongles, the price was about $55, but today I’ve found a new device closer to my target price ($25): an iPush Miracast adapter that sells for $31.90 on DealExtreme. [Update: Several users report it's only a DLNA dongle, and it does not support Miracast yet]

IPUSH_Miracast_Adapter

Here are the specifications according to DealExtreme:

  • SoC – Allwinner A10s Cortex A8 + Mali-400 GPU
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4
  • Supports DLNA and Miracast mode
  • Power – 5V / 0.5A

The device comes with an HDMI cable and a micro USB cable used to connect the device to your TV HDMI and USB ports, or if your TV lacks USB, [and] a USB power adapter.

However, I’ve done a little more research, and it turns out iPush is also a product designed by Action Semi, that just does the same thing, and with the same enclosure. zol.com.cn wrote about an event showing a Miracast demo with iPush and an Android 4.2.2 tablet powered by ATM7029. It could be DX.com got the specs wrong, or it’s just a product with the same casing but different board. [Emphasis added.]

The specifications are as follows:

  • CPU -  ACTIONS SEMI ATV6003 @ 400MHZ
  • Memory – 64M DDR2
  • Storage – 16M Nor Flash
  • Video Output – Standard HDMI interface
  • Wi-fi – 802.11 b/g/n (Support for Wi-Fi Direct)
  • USB – Hi-speed micro USB
  • Video formats – AVI, WMV, RM, 3GP, MKV, MP4, ASF, VOB, MPG, TS, TP, DVIX, MOV up to 720p
  • Power supply – 5V / 500mA via micro USB  port
  • Dimensions -  63 x 22 x 9.5 mm
  • Weight – 15 grams

The device runs Linux, and is said to be compatible with Bubbleupnp and Skifta, both of which are UPnP/DLNA Android apps. Some resellers tell you to install iPush APK on your smartphone or tablet in order to use the device. Please note that the maximum resolution is 720p, which may be fine, as many smartphones / tablets may have issues to handle Miracast 1080p smoothly. This device competes directly in terms of features and price with the upcoming Rockchip RK2918 Miracast adapter. If you search for “ATV6003″, you’ll find several companies offering DLNA/Airplay/Miracast dongles with different casings, but most of them do not appear to be for sale just yet. DealExtreme actually sells another device it calls D2 with ATV6003 for $33, but only mentions DLNA and Airplay, and not Miracast.

Bear in mind that resellers sometimes add “Miracast” in the description because it helps selling their device, but it’s not properly supported, at least with the current firmware. According to customers’ reviews, DLNA/UPnP appears to be working fine however.

Even though it doesn’t support Miracast, the iPush device proves that it’s possible to sell a dongle with accessories for US$25 and shipping prepaid to the US, but it might not be profitable at that price.


CloudnetGo’s CR-M200 Miracast for TV Adapter

The AndroidPC.es site published Analysis: Adapter Wifi Miracast for TV CloudnetGo CR-M200 on 5/20/2013. Following is the Bing translation:

From CloudnetGo send us a piece of technology, a Miracast for CR-M200TV adapter, this small device connected to the TV and a Miracast compatible device can transmit contents in mirror mode easily to our TV. We have tested it thoroughly and we can say that we have in our hands a gadget that will delight of the most geeks.

Its technical specifications are not bad for this type of device.

  • Processor Rockchip Cortex A9 1 GHz
  • 256 DDR3 memory
  • GPU Mali400
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g /n

To highlight the chip mounted wifi that supports connections N 300mbps

This Dongle Miracast is compatible for the moment with the Smartphone LG NEXUS 4, XiaoMi 2/2s and SONY xperia with Android 4.2.

Contents of the box:

When it comes from a sample of manufactures that it sends us directly CloudnetGo, we find a simple small cardboard box where is well protected the Dongle. Accompanies it a cable MicroUSB that will help us to feed the Dongle from the USB output of TV or monitor where you want to use it.

destacada

This small dongle is powered by a micro USB port located on the back side and only need 500mA for operation which means that any TV that has USB ports you can feed it perfectly without need to purchase an external transformer. Its size is very small, almost half of a TV-Stick, which is welcomed since this size ensures its discretion.
Conex

We can observe a cord in the back which is nothing else than the wifi antenna. The feel of the Dongle is to be compact and resistant despite having perforated enclosure to a large extent to facilitate the cooling of the device. We also find a small hole where you can access the hidden Reset button, need to upgrade Dongle.

Connection of the CR-M200 is very simple, feed it with a typical cable usb microusb, plug into the hdmi port of your TV and access to the hdmi channel in question. When you select the corresponding HDMI channel on TV you will see a screen like this. You can see which firmware version is 0.43, although we really used the 0.58 for the analysis, after upgrading the Dongle.

Miracast

In the part of the smartphone you have used a Nexus 4 and the connection has been very simple. Just go to settings- >display- >Wireless display and activate it on the button Yes/NO coach who is in the upper right corner. After this action we see as appears on the screen detected the dongle with the name LOLLIPOP-83257 (which can be changed), to connect us nothing more easy click on the name and let technology do its magic. After a few seconds you will see on our TV screen image that shows our smartphone. Connect it, as you can see, is child’s play.

Screenshot_2013-05-14-15-22-08

Miracast technology uses a wifi connection directly between the two devices to transmit data, this can make us think that we will lose the connection to the internet (via wifi) when using CR-M200dongle, then nothing further from reality because we can continue using internet without any problem.

For things that we like to do tests have run Wifi Analyzer to see how strong is the link between our smartphone and dongle wifi and the result is more than satisfactory:

Screenshot_2013-05-14-15-21-34

In the demonstration video that we made you can see the most common uses that may occur, surf the internet, play, watch videos… We’ve also recorded the connection process so you can see how simple that is. You can see that there is only a slight delay to between the Smartphone and the TV that does not prevent use of the Dongle in many games and makes it especially suitable for playback of multimedia content, navigation, etc…

Conclusions:

As you can see can not be easier to share content in mode mirror from our Smartphone to a TV with Dongle CR-M200 from CloudnetGo. Us to especially liked by the easy configuration and commissioning, as you have seen it is child’s play. On the other hand we have used a Dongle with a Firmware in the test phase, from the manufacturer which indicate that they expect to reduce the delay between the Dongle and the TV in the final version of the device.

Being a cutting-edge technology at the moment there are very few Smartphones compatible 100% with Miracast at the moment only the LG NEXUS 4, XiaoMi 2/2s and SONY xperia and absolutely need Android 4.2, which already incorporates this feature. Note that some manufacturers such as Samsung have chosen have chosen to restrict this technology in their terminals only to devices Miracast of its own brand, for their own benefit.[*]

Ultimately the CR-M200 is a gadget to take into account, for the quality that has and its ease of connection and use. It may be advisable to convert quickly and easily any screen with HDMI on a Multimedia Player to share the contents of our Smartphone easily on any screen (or projector) with HDMI.

We hope that soon this Miracast support extends to all brands of Android devices (Smartphones, Tablets…), because we felt it very interesting and especially easy to use…

We are waiting to know both its price end availability soon. At the moment only can make a reservation to the wholesale at CloudnetGo .

Note: Our thanks to Daemonium, regular contributor of this Blog who selflessly volunteered to carry out the analysis of the Dongle with your Nexus 4 CR-M200

* I assume restricting Miracast technology to devices of one’s own brand prevents one from certifying them as Miracast-compatible.


Tekxon’s AX-14 DLNA, WiDi and Miracast Adapter

CNXSoftware reported a $55 AX-14 DLNA, WiDi & Miracast Dongle Works with Android / iOS Devices, and Windows 7/8 PC on 4/10/2013:

Miracast is a new standard allowing you to play videos or mirror your Android device display on a TV via Wi-Fi direct. All you need is a Wi-Fi device that can be connected to the HDMI and USB (for power) ports of your TV, and decode common video codecs. There are not many devices available on the market, but I’ve just found out about AX-14, a Wi-Di and Miracast HDMI adapter that lets you connect your Windows 7 or 8 to your TV via Wi-Di, or your Android / iOS via Miracast. The device also supports DLNA. …

image_thumb121

Read more.

You can learn more about the AX-14, which appears to be the TEKXON Wi-Fi Display Dongle  (WFD-01), and read illustrated operation guides for Windows and Android devices here.

Aliexpress offers the AX-14 for US$55.00 with air mail delivery from China prepaid. GeekBuying.com’s price for the AX-14 is US$94.99. An Amazon partner offers a Hzz wifi display dongle video sharing link mobile smart phones and PC with TV and Projector Full HD 1080p Compatible with IEEE802 & DLNA & Miracast, which appears to be the same device, for US$82.99 with free two-day freight for Prime subscribers.


Netgear’s PTV3000 Push2TV Miracast Box

Steve Dent (@Stevetdent) announced Netgear PTV3000 updated, supports Miracast-ready Android devices in a 2/18/2013 Engadget post:

Netgear PTV3000 updated, supports Miracastready Android devices

imageInterested in Miracast-ing from an Andoid phone via your Netgear Push2TV PTV3000 adapter? Want to know what all that meant? It’s understandable — Miracast is a very recent open standard that lets you echo the display from an enabled device like a smartphone or tablet onto your TV (think Apple’s AirPlay Mirroring). You’ll now be able to officially do that with the PTV3000 from the few Android devices that support Miracast: Samsung’s Galaxy S III, Note II and Note 10.1, LG’s Optimus G, the Google / LG Nexus 4, and various Sony Xperia models — all with Android 4.04 or higher.

imageThe PTV3000 also supports Intel’s WiDi standard, and actually brought Miracast support in an earlier beta firmware upgrade, though testers saw significant bugginess at the time. Many of those nags have been squelched with the new update, though, and you’ll also see a single interface for Intel WiDi and Miracast, both PIN and PBC support, 5GHz Miracast operation and faster bootup times, too. So, if you’ve been looking to get all those pixels crammed into your smartphone over to a bigger medium, hit the source or check the details after the break.

Supported Intel Wireless Display platforms:

  • Windows 7, Intel Wireless Display V3.1.29.0, Wifi driver V15.1.1
  • Windows 7, Intel Wireless Display V3.5.41.0, Wif driver V15.3.1
  • Windows 8 (systems upgraded form Windows 7), Intel Wireless Display V3.5.41.0, Wifi driver V15.3.50
  • Windows 8 (with Win8 preinstalled), Intel Wireless display, V3.5.41.0, Wifi driver V15.5.7

Supported Miracast platforms:

  • Samsung Galaxy S3 (Android 4.1.1 or above)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
  • LG Optimus G (Android 4.0.4 or above)
  • Google Nexus 4 (Android 4.2.1)
  • Sony Xperia (various models with Android 4.0.4 or above)

Enhancements & Bug Fixes:

  • Miracast support for compatible mobile phones and tablets.
  • Combined Intel wireless display (Widi) and Miracast a single user interface. There is no need to use the push button on the side of the PTV3000 unit to switch between Widi and Miracast modes. The side push-button is strictly used to go into FW update mode.
  • (Miracast) Both PIN and PBC methods for WPS are supported. The device automatically communicates with the source device (mobile phone, tablet or laptop) to determine which WPS method to use.
  • (Miracast) The device is already PBC ready waiting for source to initiate connection.
  • Fixed HDCP connection error issue with some Sony mobile phones.
  • Fixed issue that screen projection does not take place until swiping action takes place on mobile phone.
  • Fixed some disconnection with mobile phone.
  • Device does not allow second Widi or Miracast souce device to interrupt existing Widi or Miracast session.
  • Enable 5Ghz Miracast operation with preferred operating channel as channel 40.
  • Reduced image size and faster boot time.
  • Fixed system lockup issue after wrong PIN entry.
  • Improved connectivity with Intel Widi running under Win8. Repaired issue in win8 that device connection has issue after removal of device under Devices and Printers interface in Win8.
  • Fixed issue of connecting screen appearing after a session teardown on Win7 laptop.
  • Fixed issue of one Widi session affecting screen projection of subsequent Widi or Miracast session.
  • (Widi) Fixed issue of cursor position not updated until “resize TV picture” takes place.
  • Fixed kernel panic issue that system goes into a non-responsive state.
  • Implement regional domain control allowing shipment to Europe, Australia, and Canada.
  • Localization support for international languages.

Installation Procedure

  1. Push and hold the WPS button on the side of the PTV3000 unit for more than 5 seconds.
  2. PTV3000 goes into firmware update mode. Firmware update procedure shows up on TV screen (also shown below on steps 3 to 6).
  3. Use your PC or mobile device and motivate to www.netgear.com/stream to check for and download the latest firmware.
  4. Using the wireless network manager utility on your device, search for “Push2TV” wireless network name (SSID) and connect.
  5. Open a web browser on your device and type http://192.168.3.1 into the URL bar of the browser.
  6. Follow the steps on the web page to upload the firmware image and complete the installation.

The PTV’s problem is that it’s only a Miracast device, not an Android MiniPC or TVBox. Hopefully, the update has been applied to boxes purchased in mid-2013.

Amazon sells the Netgear PTV3000-100NAS Push2TV Miracast/Wi-Di TVBox for US$54.99:

image_thumb19

Click here for a list of all Miracast-enabled and -enabling devices that Amazon sells, which start at about US$35.


Panasonic’s DMP-MS10 and DMP-MST60 Miracast-Enabled TVBoxes

T.C. Sottek reported Panasonic’s new Miracast-enabled streaming boxes now available starting at $79.99 in a 4/8/2013 post to The Verge:

Panasonic has announced that the new Miracast-enabled media streamers it unveiled at CES 2013 are now available, expanding the company’s lineup of screen-sharing set top boxes. Miracast, a video streaming standard rivaling Apple’s AirPlay ecosystem, gained momentum at CES this year as several manufacturers showed off Miracast-enabled equipment — but Miracast has remained nascent without widespread support in consumer devices.

image_thumb21

The $79.99 DMP-MS10 and $99.99 DMP-MST60 can be purchased now directly from Panasonic, and like other standard steaming set tops, they allow users to play video from Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and other providers. The MST60 supports 3D video playback, and also includes a 2D-to-3D conversion feature. Both set tops allow owners to use tablets and smartphones running Android 4.2 or higher (like the Galaxy S III or Nexus 4) to share movies, music, photos, and anything else on their mobile device with their television. [Panasonic photo and links added.]

The Panasonic Store sells the DMP-MS10 for $49.99 and the DMP-MST60 for US$89.99. Amazon prices are US$74.62 and US$87.99, respectively. PanasonicCanda has uploaded a 00:01:40 Panasonic DMP-MST60 MIracast video to You Tube. The You Tube page has links to many Miracast-related video segments. The primary selling point appears to be the ability to stream video to an HDTV without a WiFi hotspot.


Windows 8.1’s Miracast Support

imageEven Windows 8.1 is climbing on the Miracast bandwagon. Jensen Harris (@jensenharris) demonstrated a Surface Pro running Windows 8.1 and mirroring its screen to an HDTV with a Miracast receiver attached at 02:11:30 into the 03:56:26-long Day 1 Vision Keynote video archive from Microsoft’s World Wide Partners Conference in Houston, TX on 7/8/2013. Here’s a 00:02:16 excerpt from Jensen’s demo:

Jensen Harris demonstrating Miracast from a Surface Pro running Windows 8.1

 

I asked @jensenharris:

image

Click here for ActionTec’s ScreenBeam details and here for Amazon.com’s $69.99 ACTIONTEC SBWD100KIT01 ScreenBeam Universal Wireless Display Adapter Kit (Black) with a ScreenBeam transmitter dongle:

image

Amazon and ActionTec sell the ScreenBeam receiver alone for the same price. It’s not clear whether Amazon’s offerings are for the ScreenBeam Pro or an earlier model.

Earlier, Tom Warren (@tomwarren) reported Windows 8.1 to include native Miracast wireless display support and internet sharing in a 6/3/2013 article for The Verge:

Windows 8.1 Start Screen (Embargo)

image_thumb17Microsoft revealed a number of new features for its upcoming Windows 8.1 update last week, but at Tech-Ed today the company is focusing on business-related changes. Windows 8.1 will include native support for the wireless Miracast format, allowing users to mirror their screens to compatible devices. Miracast is designed as an open alternative to Apple’s own AirPlay mirroring, and makes use of Wi-Fi direct connections to stream content from a PC, smartphone, or other source to TVs.

Potentially, Microsoft could also include Miracast support in its upcoming Xbox One, making it possible for Windows 8.1 devices that are compatible with Miracast to wirelessly project their screens via the Xbox One. Display manufacturers and PC makers will both have to ensure their equipment is Miracast compatible for the Windows 8.1 support to work, but it helps opens up the door to a future without wired projectors.

Aside from Miracast, Windows 8.1 will also include Wi-Fi direct printing support and broadband tethering. The tethering support will allow compatible tablets and PCs to share a 3G or LTE connection as a wireless hotspot. It’s a common feature of modern smartphones, but as Microsoft targets small form factor Windows tablets it’s another option to share a connection to other devices.

There appear to be significant problems getting Miracast to work with Windows 8.1 on Surface RT and, to a lesser degree, Pro tablets. For example, see the Miracast Not Working thread in Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Preview forum. According to Barb Bowman (see below post), the Surface RT doesn’t support mirroring its screen on Miracast-enabled displays.

Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) asserted “Still not as seamless as what Apple offers, sorry” in a deck for his Hands-On with Windows 8.1: Play article of 7/3/2013 for his Supersite for Windows blog:

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft is providing additional options for connecting your PC to external displays and playing content from the PC, or from online media services, to compatible devices like HDTVs and the Xbox 360. Curiously, these interfaces aren’t consolidated, however, and the Play To option from Windows 8/RT has been renamed to Play in this update.

If you’re curious about the truly new Miracast support that’s been added to Windows 8.1, please check out my Windows Secrets co-author Rafael Rivera’s post, Windows 8.1 features Miracast wireless display tech, and it works well [See below post]. In it, he explains that Miracast uses the Project option in the Devices charm rather than the Play (Play To in Windows 8/RT) option. This makes sense only if you know too much about these technologies, and I’m curious that Microsoft didn’t consolidate these options into a single interface to make life simpler on users.

The problem with both Miracast and Play/Play To (and Wi-Di for that matter) is that these industry standard display technologies simply don’t work as seamlessly as does Apple’s AirPlay. That said, I believe the previous Play To restrictions from Windows 8/RT—which I wrote about The Sad Tale of Play To and Windows 8—have been lifted in 8.1. (My Google TV-based Sony TV now shows up as working, for example.) And if you buy into the Xbox media ecosystem for some reason, you can also use the proprietary Play On Xbox functionality in apps like Xbox Video to get paid content from Windows 8/RT/8.1 from your PC to your Xbox 360.

Confused? Right. That’s the problem.

Anyhoo. In Windows 8.1, Microsoft has rebranded Play To as Play and they’ve changed the way that you access this functionality from the Devices charm and pane. Fortunately, it’s still pretty obvious.

First, you need to make sure that the device you want to use for playback is connected to your PC. This happens in PC Settings, as before, but with the changes in 8.1, you’ll need to do some extra digging, so navigate to PC & Devices and then Devices. Check your list of Play devices. If the device is present, you’re good to go.

If not, click Add a device and then select the device from the list. (I used my Xbox 360, which is Play To compatible.) …

Paul continues with the details for using the Xbox 360 as the rendering device.

Rafael Rivera (@WithinRafael) posted Windows 8.1 features Miracast wireless display tech, and it works well on 6/30/2013:

imageFor me, there was very little more frustrating than trying to get moving pictures from my PC to the TV. What should have been easy always turned into a nightmare of mismatching codec support (PlayTo), missing cables and adapters, and fumbling of FAT32 USB sticks (which can’t even hold your typical H.264 encoded movie). But that was then. Windows 8.1 is now. And we now have wireless display capabilities baked right into the OS.

Miracast is here!

To be more specific, Windows 8.1 (preview) ships with an implementation of the Miracast standard. This standard shipped a little under a year ago and defines a protocol that devices can use to share their “screen” with each other. That is, you can now do the things you wanted but failed to do with a TV companion, like show off a PowerPoint slide deck or stream a chick flick on date night.

The Miracast specification requires that devices transmit H.264 encoded video and at least 2-channel Linear Pulse-Code Modulation (LPCM) encoded audio. Devices can upgrade the latter support as needed (e.g. Dolby Advanced Codec 3) but otherwise that’s it. There’s not a lot room for OEMs to screw up here.

But does it work?

My set up consisted of a Surface Pro and an up-to-date Netgear Push2TV (PTV3000-100NAS, $59.99 Amazon) connected to a generic LG TV. The TV isn’t important here as the adapter acts as a Miracast bridge, connecting to the TV via HDMI (and optionally USB for power). With just a few flicks and taps on the Surface, I was able to effortlessly stream its screen to the TV. Woot!

What about my xxx PC and yyy TV?

Of course you’ll probably want to set this up using hardware different than mine. Here are the key features your Windows PC needs for success:

  • Wi-Fi. If you’re thinking about streaming from the desktop, you may want to pick up a wireless adapter. But make sure it’s…
  • A wireless device that supports Virtual Wi-Fi (introduced in NDIS 6.2) and Wi-Fi Direct (introduced in NDIS 6.3). You should see this in newer wireless devices that ship with Windows 8 support. (Most newer PCs have this so you’re probably okay.) To print the NDIS version of your network devices, open Powershell and issue this one liner: Get-NetAdapter | Select Name, NdisVersion
  • A display driver specifically for Windows 8.1 (i.e. WDDM 1.3). Both NVIDIA and AMD have preview code up. Microsoft is providing Intel drivers (9.18.10.3200) inbox for select chipsets.

(Based on preliminary code and findings. This list could change, beware.)

Walk me through this, please.

First, ensure you meet the requirements for connecting to a wireless display (see above).

Add a display

Add a display

Tap the Devices charm, Project, and finally the Add a display link.

Select a device

Select a device

Tap the newly discovered device you wish to project to.

Pair with the device

Pair with the device

Depending on the device manufacturer, you may or may not be given a pair challenge. This will require you to enter a PIN or press a physical button on the device.

Done

Done

If all goes well, wireless display projection should be active. You can verify or reconfigure projection by tapping the Devices charm then Project.

Add a displaySelect a devicePair with the deviceDone

Where can I read more? What if I need help?

There isn’t a lot of Windows 8.1 wireless display information up just yet. But if you’re a Windows driver developer, check out [Wireless Display (Miracast) Structures and Enumerations] on MSDN. Or the Miracast specification [Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™] on Wi-Fi Alliance’s website.

If you run into snags and met the hardware requirements above, feel free to tweet or email me. But please be cognizant of the fact that this stuff is undocumented and bleeding edge. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Device compatibility list

Sources
  • Surface Pro:  Working.
  • Surface RT: Does not currently support wireless display. As of writing, it uses a WDDM 1.2 driver, versioned 9.17.13.879. Perhaps with a bit of luck Microsoft/NVIDIA will issue out an update.
  • PCs with Intel HD Graphics 3000 or lower: No WDDM 1.3 drivers at this time.
  • PCs with Intel HD Graphics 4000, Iris Pro (5200), or P4### variants: Working. (Inbox drivers.)
Targets
  • Netgear Push2TV: Working.
  • Panasonic DMP-BDT230:  Windows asks you to press a button to complete WPS Push Button pairing, but device doesn’t have a button. [@davidkozera]


DLNA with Windows 7 and 8 

Nokia provides a free Play To app for Nokia phones (only) that you can download from the Windows Store:

imageEnjoy your photos, videos and music on other web-enabled (DLNA) devices using Play To in order to connect over the same Wi-Fi network. Discover devices you can connect to over Wi-Fi using Play To, including smart TVs, Blu-ray players, PCs and tablets.

You can’t currently connect to PS3 or stream media from the cloud with Play To. This latest version includes improved Wi-Fi connectivity ensuring it continues working with future devices and firmware updates. Update your phone with the latest firmware before downloading and installing this app.

Play To should find all DLNA-enabled devices on the local WiFi network. In my case, I have a UG007 MiniPC, Surface Pro running Windows 8, Surface RT running Windows 8.1 RT, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung ML2165-W printer, Roku 409, and an Acer Aspire laptop running Windows 7 on the network. My wife’s Nokia 822 with the Play To app installed connected immediately to the UG007 MiniPC, which displayed the following image from the sample Camera Roll photos after clicking the Play To icon on a black splash screen (see below):

NokiaCameraRollDLNA1

You can enable Windows 8 Pro and RT devices to serve as DLNA receivers by downloading Software Developer’s US$1.99 Play To Receiver app from the Windows Store:

image

I took advantage of Software Developer’s free one-day trial and installed the app on my Surface Pro. Upon starting, Play To Receiver displayed the following screen:

image

The message at the top of the screen requested Nokia users to read the Nokia Play To – Play To Receiver Video problems thread of 7/8/2013, which reported the following problems with Nokia Lumia 900 and 920 phones:

I am the Software Developer who made the Play To Receiver app for the Windows Store on Windows 8, I’m getting support requests from my users on the video not working. I am seeing the video from Nokia Play To on Lumia 920 and 900 to be very difficult to play. I got it to play a couple times, but usually it is as described above by vl_leo in #34.

I also used the Nokia Play To app going to Windows Media Player and to the Xbox360, the Windows Media Player had the same experience as the Play To Receiver app, but the Xbox360 worked albeit very delayed, it would keep pausing in 7 second intervals and jumping back in time.

Next I tried using Windows Media Player to stream videos to the Play To Receiver app and to the Xbox 360 and this worked great to both locations. The video started right up and played without breaks. I used the same video from all locations and saw bad performance only when playing from Nokia Play To.

I think the latest updates may have introduced some problem, it wasn’t always like this as you can see in the demo video inside the Play To Receiver app. If there is anything I can do to work with Nokia to create a great Play To experience between Windows Phone and Windows 8 contact me at my email. This should be one of the great features of Windows Phone and Windows 8 but at the moment it’s a bit broken down.

Swiping up on the app’s splash screen after installation displays a brief video of Software Developer demonstrating how to use Play To Receiver. For unknown reasons, the Lumia 822  was unable to connect to the Surface Pro. Removing power to my UG007-II (Rockchip) device, rebooting the Surface Pro and restarting enabled the Surface Pro connection, which displayed the same black Nokia splash screen as the UG007:

image

Unlike the UG007, which displayed images selected from the Lumia 822 after clicking the stylized start button, the same button on the Surface Pro didn’t respond to taps or mouse clicks. The splash screen was frozen.

Upgrading the Surface RT to 8.1 should have enabled the device as a DLNA receiver. However, the Lumia 822 didn’t recognize it when setting up connections. I installed Play To Receiver, but encountered the same frozen splash-screen button problem as with the Surface Pro. I’ve notified Software Developer of the issues and I’ll update this post if I find a solution to these problems. In the meantime, I’ll be using the Nokia as a test fixture to evaluate DNLA compliance of other MiniPCs and TVBoxes.

Barb Bowman (@barbbowman) described Using MSFT Uncertified Play To DLNA devices with W8 Modern UI Apps in a 3/30/2013 post to her Barb’s Connected World blog:

imageToday I’m one step closer to giving up my iPad as my Surface RT can now perform one more task on my must have list. Full DLNA Play To sharing from the Charms bar/Devices for non Microsoft certified devices was a biggie on my list.

A little history: In Windows 7, Microsoft introduced Play To which used the DLNA spec to let me send media from my computer to a DLNA DMR. I had so-so results with my 2009 Samsung TV due to poor transcoding support, but great results with my WDTV Live Hub and my SONOS speakers. The so-so experience on my TV and the not wonderful experience on other device by many many people caused Microsoft to rethink their strategy for Windows 8 and come up with their own certification process for devices to “insure” a good experience. This translated into a restrictive policy for Windows 8 Start Screen/Metro/Modern UI Apps where only MS certified devices would appear in an applications Settings: Devices menu. What this meant for me was that I could no longer send music to my SONOS speakers from these Apps, although I could do so from the classic Desktop-Explorer-Libraries view. I certainly was annoyed and disappointed. To me, this meant that Microsoft was going down the closed eco-system route and emulating Apple. DLNA is an open standard, and there are tiered requirements. MS was seeking to bulletproof the experience, but in the process left many of us hanging. I certainly wished for, and expressed my desire for, an advanced user setting to “Show non MS certified devices”, and I still think that is the necessary change that Microsoft needs to make.

Others in the geek world wanted a way to use their non certified devices and Rafael Rivera came up with a way for x86 based Windows 8 computers to do just this. He didn’t find a way to do this on Surface RT. And that’s where I most wanted this functionality. Note: The information that follows applies to Windows 8/Windows RT and I have tested on my Surface RT, my Surface Pro, and a Windows 8 desktop.

So I started looking at the registry. What I am about to describe works on both my Surface and Surface RT tablets but it is the only way so far to enable this functionality on RT.

Before you start,verify that your device supports Play To in the classic desktop/explorer/libraries interface. To do this, right click a supported media file in a classic library and verify the Play To menu appears and that you can successfully send to your target device and it plays the media you selected.

There is an interesting key in the registry:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims]

When expanded, it shows devices from just a few companies.

providers

Why only five vendors?

If you export the DeviceShims reg key, things get interesting. For example, specific vendors and specific devices have entries, such as:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\ONKYO]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\ONKYO\HT-R690]
“IsLegacyDMR”=dword:00000001 …

Barb continues with detailed instruction for rolling your own keys to add DeviceShims for other DLNA providers.

Barb describes her DLNA enabler in a WDTV Live Hub – A Home Entertainment-DLNA Love Story post of 2/12/2011:

I’ve never had a CE device that exceeded my expectations. Until now.  My Connected Home includes devices that enable me to stream media between devices on my network, but which also provoked frustration because of half implemented codec support and DLNA protocols. I thought I had true DLNA love back in July 2009 with a Samsung TV, but the lack of firmware updates for DLNA compatibility (such as support for WMA music) eventually caused me to realize it was just a summer romance. Samsung seems to abandon devices after 6 months or so, and concentrates on newer products.

Like many others, while I’d love a new DLNA certified Home Theater receiver DMR, the price range for these is currently $900+. And the Samsung TV is relatively new.

Enter the WD TV Live Hub. This >$200 little box does it all. Like many Home Theater enthusiasts looking for optimum solutions that provide Windows 7 Play To functionality, I’ve been frustrated and was not looking for an expensive solution. This is a very small box with gargantuan capabilities, including a 1TB hard drive to store your favorite media on.

wdliveproduct

Lots of jacks, including HDMI and SP/DIF, plus USB ports front and back (for connecting USB drives, USB Flash Keys, Wireless Adapters, Keyboards, etc.) For size comparison, in the image above on the right, the WD TV Live Hub sits atop a Samsung BD Player, which sits atop my (broken RRoD’d) Xbox 360. No HDMI or Optical SP/DIF cables are supplied, so you will need your own for the best AV experience. There is an included quick set up poster type guide supplied in the box, but no manual /user guide in the retail box, but it is available online for download in PDF format.  Most of my manuals are still in shrink wrap, so, as usual, I just jumped in without  a net.

I connected an HDMI cable from the device to my TV and an optical cable from the device to a SP/DIF port on my home theater receiver. I also plugged a wired Ethernet cable in to the device and into my D-Link DAP-1522, which provides wireless connectivity as an access point client (like a gaming adapter).  There is a list of supported USB Wireless N adapters, (as well as everything else that WD tested for connectivity including TV’s, routers, etc.) but I found that the one I tried wasn’t as good as the DAP-1522, or MoCA. More later on Network connectivity and speeds. …

Barb continues with more detailed information about the WD TV Live Hub.

The WD TV Live Hub sounds a lot like the Samsung HomeSync device (see next post) to me, including the built-in 1-TB disk drive.



Samsung Link and HomeSync

Our Samsung UN46D6050 TV, which we purchased in May 2012, isn’t listed as Miracast compatible, nor is the Samsung Wireless Adapter that was included with it. The set has a direct Ethernet connection to one of our AT&T DSL service’s five fixed IP addresses.

Samsung’s Samsung Link (formerly All-Share) technology appears to be Miracast compatible. The All-Share site carries the following caveat at the bottom of the All-Share page:

WiFi or WiFi CERTIFIED Miracast™ is required to connect Samsung smart devices using AllShare™.

The Samsung Link (All Share Play) app from the Google Play store states:

This app is incompatible with all of your devices.

Rockchip Rk30sdk: This item is not compatible with your device.
Asus Nexus 7: This item is not compatible with your device.

From the app’s Description:

* AllShare Play is now Samsung Link. Once AllShare Play is updated the logo and service name will change to Samsung Link. Continue to log-in with your Samsung Account to access your pictures, videos, and documents previously stored on AllShare Play.

Share & Play Content across Smart Devices, Anytime Anywhere

Samsung Link enables users to access & play content saved on other devices over a wireless access point as well as over the internet.

1) Remote access across devices & Content management
Remotely access and manage your devices and use and share multimedia content. (Register your PC at link.samsung.com)

2) Store photos automatically to your PC or storage service
Photos/Videos taken with your device will automatically be transferred onto your PC or storage service.

3) Stream your photos on TV
Push your content from your smart device or PC to the large screen of your Samsung TV and enjoy with family & friends.

If the application is not pre-installed, you will not be able to use Samsung Link properly.

You can obtain more details about Samsung Link for mobile, PC and TV devices and install the PC software by signing in here and providing or obtaining a Samsung account:

image

See the later Samsung Introduces SideSync and HomeSync Lite at Premiere 2013 link below for more information on Samsung Link with a Galaxy S4 smartphone.

There’s no mention of Samsung’s HomeSync Android media streamer with a built-in 1-TB fixed disk drive on the Samsung Link page of 5/29/2013, possibly because it’s still not available in the US:

image

SAMSUNGmobile (@SamsungMobile) uploaded a 00:13:16 professionally produced Introducing Samsung HomeSync promotional video to YouTube on 5/20/2013 (click to activate player):

Samsung HomeSync is a high-capacity personal cloud device for your home. It lets you stream content from your GALAXY device such as the GALAXY S4 to the TV, so you can watch, browse and access all your home videos, photos and apps at full-HD 1080p.
With a 1TB internal hard drive, your family can share content wherever, whenever, at no extra cost.

By connecting multiple accounts and devices, and using remote control, sharing precious memories with others gets much simpler.
HomeSync, a home hub solution that gives you the best entertainment experience on a big screen TV, a shared storage large enough for an entire family, and a new way of enjoying your HDTV through a familiar and smarter Android user experience.
To find out more about the Samsung GALAXY S4, click here.

The narration is very affected, e.g. video becomes “veedeo,” and there’s no link to a pricing and availability page, but the provided software is impressive. The narrator confirmed Android Jelly Bean as the OS version. You must have a recent Samsung smartphone and home WiFi running to use the HomeSync device, which was slated to become available this week (week 51, beginning 5/19/2013.)

Reuben Lee (@ReubenCNETAsia) of C|Net Asia reported Samsung HomeSync to retail for S$498 on 6/4/2013.

imageFirst unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, the Samsung HomeSync is a media hub that lets you share multimedia content easily from the smartphone to the TV. As it is Android-based, it can also allow you to access apps as well. The onboard 1TB storage doubles as a networked access storage device for the family. Here’s a quick look how the Galaxy S4 is paired with the HomeSync via NFC.

The Samsung HomeSync will retail for S$498 from June 6 via the Singapore telcos, before it is made available in electronics and IT stores from July.

Tapping the Galaxy S4 on the HomeSync opens up the accompanying app. (Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET Asia)

S$495 corresponds to about US$395 at current exchange rates. A bit pricey for the equivalent of a MiniPC or TVBox with a 1 TB USB drive.

Update 6/7/2013: Reuben Lee (@ReubenCNETAsia) updated his 6/4/2013 article (see above) as follows:

Update (June 6 1100 GMT+8): Samsung has confirmed that the HomeSync will be available in all Asia markets starting June 2013 and will retail for about US$310.

Still no word about US markets.

For more about HomeSync, see my Potential Personal Video Recorder (PVR/DVR) TV Boxes; Two Have HDTV Tuners article.


Samsung Introduces SideSync and HomeSync Lite at Premiere 2013

Samsung took over London’s Earls Court Exhibition Center to present Samsung Premiere 2013 on 6/20/2013.

Mixed in among the new Galaxy smartphone, ATIV tablet and ultrabook agitprop were brief mentions of the following:

Samsung SideSync (at 00:51:56 in the video archive)

image

Samsung’s site claims:

SideSync’s phone screen sharing mode puts an adjustable, digital version of your phone right on your PC screen! Type, click and use any of your apps straight from your PC. …

The current version is compatible with ATIV Book, Tab and One PCs and Android phones – the PC program will either be pre-installed or available via SW Update if your PC is compatible, and the companion phone app can be downloaded from Samsung Apps. Updates about future versions and compatibility will be made here, so stay tuned!

This sounds to me like a proprietary Miracast clone.

Liam Spradlin (@LiamSpradlin) came to the same conclusion in his Samsung Introduces Side Sync: ‘PC In Mobile, Mobile In PC’ With A Fatal Flaw article of 5/9/2013 for the AndroidPolice site:

imageSamsung has just announced details of a new syncing/file management tool called Side Sync, which it mentioned last month alongside new ATIV PC branding.

The basic idea behind the app is easy, painless file and information transfer from PC to mobile and vice versa. This is accomplished using a dock that plugs into your PC’s USB port. Once hooked up, you can share your mouse and keyboard with your Samsung phone, dragging and dropping files, and copying and pasting information as you please. Users can also set the service to automatically sync photos. Here’s Samsung’s introductory video for the product:

image

As great as the service looks, the tagline “PC in Mobile, Mobile in PC” is at least a little misleading – Side Sync doesn’t just work with just any PC – it’s only compatible Samsung PCs. As a matter of fact, it only works with some Samsung PCs, so far including the ATIV Book, ATIV Book Q, ATIV One, and ATIV Tab globally, and the same selection inside Korea, with the addition of the ATIV Smart PC. This is its fatal flaw.

If you own a PC that’s not part of the above ATIV family, you can forget about effortlessly transferring files and information between your devices with Side Sync.

That said, Side Sync is actually a great idea, and looks like it could provide major utility. If you just so happen to have your hands on a compatible PC and a Samsung phone and you feel like peeking into Samsung’s app store, hit the link below to grab the app.

Side Sync on Samsung Apps

via SammyHub

Update 7/6/2013: Samsung HomeSync Lite makes it’s initial appearance in a 00:02:09 Introducing Samsung HomeSync Lite YouTube professionally produced video clip:

From the description:

Meet Samsung HomeSync Lite, the new PC solution that allows you to back-up content using your PC storage and access it away from home with other devices. You can have your own cloud on your PC, connecting to many of your Samsung digital devices, accessing various formats of the files, up to 5 different accounts! Enjoy your personal cloud on your PC.

HomeSync Lite appears to be software without Miracast screen mirroring capabilities. Perhaps it’s SideSync redux with a new name.

Samsung Link (formerly All-Share, see the preceding Samsung Link and HomeSync section) is the only similar app I can find on Samsung Apps for my Galaxy S4 (SCH-I545), which has a link to the app built in. Samsung Link runs on most Intel PCs and uses Dropbox, Skydrive or SugarSync as Registered storage. I’ve registered my development machine (OL-Win7Pro23), Surface Pro tablet (RJSurfacedPro), Acer Aspire Laptop (Acer-Win7Pro), Galaxy S4 and SkyDrive account with Samsung Link:

Screenshot_2013-06-21-11-16-14

and can share content between them. Here’s a screenshot of the S4 displaying images from OL-Win7Pro23:

Screenshot_2013-06-21-10-44-44

However, the Surface Pro doesn’t show the Galaxy S4 as a nearby device, and won’t display it’s own media thumbnails; it displays an “Unable to load the list due to a network error (-708325)” problem when refreshing the Nearby Devices list.

Miracast screen sharing with the Galaxy S4 and Acer laptop in the living room would require an All-Share Dongle, which a single seller offers on Amazon for US$219. (The Sale-Fire.com site offers a wide range of Samsung WiFi boxes and dongles.) I ordered a MicroUSB male MHL to female HDMI adapter cable as a workaround and it works as expected when connected to an HDMI input of our Samsung Smart? TV.

My Surface Pro probably will need Windows 8.1 installed to enable Miracast screen sharing. I’ll test it after upgrading the tablet with the preview from the //BUILD/ conference on 6/26/2013.

Note: My Galaxy S4’s Wi-Fi Direct setting shows DIRECT-roku-409 for my Roku TV box and DIRECT-uPML-2160 for my Samsung ML-2165W laser printer, but neither appear to connect:

Screenshot_2013-06-22-12-25-42


HomeSync Lite is a software-only version of the ephemeral HomeSync box. Samsung cloudwashes HomeSync Lite in this description:

Meet Samsung HomeSync Lite, the new PC solution that allows you to back-up content using your PC storage and access it away from home with other devices. You can have your own cloud on your PC, connecting to many of your Samsung digital devices, accessing various formats of the files, on up to 5 different accounts! Enjoy your personal cloud on your PC.

For more details, please visit http://www.facebook.com/samsungnotebook

Like the original HomeSync tv box, this appears to more unavailable projectorware. There’s nothing about Samsung HomeSyncLite or HomeSync on the Facebook site as of 6/21/2013. The HomeSync box didn’t even warrant a mention at the Premiere event.


Samsung’s US$300 SEK-1000/ZA 2013 Evolution Kit

Amazon and BestBuy offer Samsung’s SEK-1000/ZA Smart Evolution Kit for upgrading specific 2012 Samsung LED HDTV sets to more recent Samsung Smart TV standards. The device plugs into a connector on the back of the TV:

image

BestBuy provides the following feature list:

Enhance your viewing experience with this Samsung Smart Evolution SEK-1000/ZA kit, which features Smart Interaction 2.0 to enable 2-hand motion control, face tracking and voice control with your compatible 2012 Samsung TV.

Product Features

Compatible with select 2012 Samsung TVs

Including ES7500 and ES8000 LED and E7000 (no SI) and E8000 PDP models for use with your existing TV.

SmartHub

With Smart Recommendation offers an enhanced viewing experience.

Smart Interaction 2.0

Enables 2-hand motion control, face tracking and voice control with speech commands for easy operation.

Smart Touch remote

Simplifies control over your TV.

1.3GHz quad-core processor

Along with a 500MHz GPU and 1.5GB DOR memory enables optimal performance.

You can download the kit’s 301-page User Manual here. The manual states the following about DLNA and AllShare™:

AllShare™ connects your TV and compatible Samsung mobile phones/ devices through a network. On your TV, you can view call arrivals and SMS messages received by your mobile phones. In addition, you can play media contents including videos, photos, and music saved on your mobile phones or the other devices (such
as your PC) by controlling them on the TV via the network.

Additionally, you can use your TV for browsing web pages on your mobile phones.

For more information, visit “www.samsung.com” or contact the Samsung call center. Mobile devices may need additional software installation. For details, refer to each device’s user’s guide.

If your Samsung TV connects to a non-Samsung DLNA server, a compatibility issue may occur during video playback.

By connecting your Samsung TV to a network via AllShare™, you can use Samsung’s original functions as follows:

  • Playback of various video formats (DivX,XVID, MP4, 3GPP, AVI, ASF, MKV, etc.)
  • Video thumbnail feature
  • Bookmark function (to resume video playback)
  • Auto-chaptering (scene navigation)
  • Digital content management
  • Compatibility with various subtitle formats (SRT, SMI, SUB, TXT, TTXT)
  • Search with file names
  • And many others

To use the original DLNA functions of Samsung fully, it is recommended that you use the AllShare™ software provided with your TV.

I could find no mention of Miracast or WiFi Direct in the manual.

Videos:

The Will this accessory work with my product? test on the where to buy page shows it’s not compatible with my Samsung UN46D6050 46-inch “Smart” HDTV. Apparently the 6050 series aren’t smart enough to upgrade.

$300 appears to me to be a bit pricey for an Android TV box and remote control, especially one that doesn’t support Miracast and/or WiFi direct. I paid Amazon about $650 for the HDTV.


BlackBerry 10.2 to Gain Miracast and DLNA Support

Michael Li asserted BlackBerry 10.2 Could Make Apple’s Airplay Obsolete in a 6/20/2013 post to the GadgetMasters blog:

imageBlackBerry 10.2 will be getting Miracast and Wireless HDMI support.  This is in addition to BlackBerry 10 already having DLNA support, which is also something that Apple’s iOS does not have.  Miracast is an open-standard version of Apple’s Airplay.  It allows wireless delivery of high-definition video to TVs, desktops, tablets and mobile phones.

imageApple’s Airplay has a similar set of features, but requires the purchase of a $99 Apple TV.  Thus, BlackBerry 10.2 with Miracast will save BB 10 users $99, and save them the hassle of operating an additional piece of hardware.

imageAndroid received Miracast support with Android 4.2.  With BlackBerry 10.2 also supporting Miracast, it appears this open-standard is gaining momentum, and is set to challenge Apple’s Airplay.  With non-Apple smartphones increasingly adopting Miracast, it could cause Apple users to question why they have to pay $99 for a proprietary version of a similar service.


Building WiFi Direct Apps for Devices Running Windows 8.1

Yatharth Gupta presented a Building Apps for WiFi Direct Direct Devices video at Microsoft’s //BUILD/ 2013 Conference in San Francisco:

Windows makes it easy for developers to create apps that can talk to their device, such as a phones or TV, by using Wi-Fi Direct. This session describes the key concepts, APIs, and samples, and walks through examples that show how Windows Store apps can use these APIs to control Wi-Fi Direct devices.

Native experiences supported in Windows [8.1 are]: Miracast, printing, and DLNA over WiFi Direct.

EZCasting Video and Other Media with a Samsung Galaxy S4

Contents:

Related Articles:

Introduction

imageI set up my Action Media dongle with the EZCast_Win1.0.17.exe setup software for Windows, as described in my How to Set Up an EZCast Dongle with Windows 8 – A Tutorial of 8/29/2013. After installing the then-current Android EZCast app from the Google Play store on my Windows Galaxy S4, I was unable to cast video to the desktop Insignia HDTV that I use for development and testing. The problem was foreseeable because Action-Media’s SMW-702 WiFI Dispalay [sic] User Manual v1.0 lists only these supported smart phones:

image

Jerome Yu of Shenzhen Joystar Technology Co., Ltd., from whom I purchased my EZCast dongle, reported availability of updated Android and iOS apps in a message of 9/9/2013 to Google+’s WiFi EZCast community. Here’s my S4 displaying Google Play Store’s page for the Winner Wave Co. Ltd. (an Action Media affiliate) Android app v1.0.0.47 updated 9/6/2013:

image

Bing translates the What’s New section as “Supports Android more than 4″ meaning Android v4.1+. However, the new version also changes “Miracast” references to “EZMirror” to avoid trademark infringement. Jerome noted in his message that the new software supports Samsung’s proprietary AllShare protocol, which I verified with my Galaxy S4 SCH-I545 (Verizon) as described in the following sections.

I also upgraded My EZCast Dongle’s firmware on 9/11/2013 from Local Version 10450 to 10652, as shown here:

image

Then 10652 to 10653 a few hours later:

UpgradeTo10653

The line below the new Local Version: 10653 reads: “For Android EZCast 1.0.45+, iOS EZCast 1.0.35+, Windows EZCast 1.0.31+, Mac EZCast 1.0.18”.


Tronsmart Mirror2TV is a Bare Bones US$29.99 EZCast Dongle

Jean-Luc Aufranc reported Tronsmart T1000 Mirror2TV EZCast, Miracast, Airplay, DLNA HDMI Dongle Sells for $29.99 in a 12/6/2013 post to his CNX Software blog:

imageThere has already been several dongles released to the market that support Miracast, Airplay, and DLNA, either a subset, or a combination of the standards. One of the cheapest is iPush that now sells in the low $20, but there are different models, and one of them is only supporting DLNA. A couple of months later, EZCast was released with support for DLNA, as well as Miracast and Airplay (with some limitations), and their own EZCast support.

imageEZCast is supported on several hardware dongles that often sell for about $35 to $45, and although it’s not outrageously expensive, you can get full single or dual core Android HDMI MiniPC TV for this price.

I’ve just come across a new product called Tronsmart T1000 Mirror2TV sold for $29.99 including shipping by GeekBuying, and a couple of sellers on Aliexpress, that appears to be another EZCast dongle with support for Miracast, Airplay, and DLNA.

imageTronsmart T1000 Mirror2TV

Here are the (tentative) specifications I could gather from various sources:

  • SoC- Action Semi AM8251 @ 600MHz (MIPS)
  • System memory – 128 MB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 128 MB NAND Flash
  • Video output – HDMI v1.3 with HDCP 2.x – 480p, 720p or 1080p resolution
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (Realtek RTL8188) with WEP, WPA and WPA2 support
  • Standards – Miracast, Airplay, DLNA, and EZCast
  • Video container formats  – avi, .divx, .mkv, .ts, .dat, .vob, .mpg, .mpeg, .mov, .mp4, .rm, .rmvb, .wmv,
  • Audio formats / codecs – MP1/MP2,/MP3, WMA, OGG, ADPCM-WAV, PCM-WAV, AAC    etc
  • USB – micro USB port for power and connect the external USB cable with Wi-Fi module
  • Power – 5V/1A
  • Dimensions – 6.5×2.5×0.9 cm
  • Weight – 15 grams

The dongle comes with a USB cable with wifi module and an installation guide. There’s no HDMI cable, and apparently no power supply, but the USB port of your TV should do. EZCast [software] is available for PC (Windows or Mac OS), Android tablets and smartphones, and iOS devices (iPhone/iPad), and can be downloaded here. Airplay screen mirroring is not working at this time, and iOS devices can only play videos and music, display pictures, and web pages to your TV.

It should work with most devices running Android 4.2.x, including Chinese smartphones based on Mediatek SoC, and tablets based on Rockchip. EZCast is still work in progress, as you can see from users’ feedback on EZCast community on G+.

Tronsmart T1000 looks very much like Visonicom VMD-EZ153, which may, or may not, be the manufacturer of the device.

Geekbuying.com lists the following devices as compatible with Mirror2TV:

Tronsmart Mirror2TV (T1000) has integrated HDCP TX and HDCP RX key, which ensure T1000 to be compatible with Miracast function of every brand mobile phone and pad. Here is a list that we have tested:

LG G2
LG Optimus
Google Nexus 4
Google Nexus 7ii (2013)
Samsung Galaxy S3
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy Tablet
Sony Xperia ZR M36h
HTC New One
Lenovo A830
Lenovo K900
Acer V370
ZTE Z5 or Mini
OPPO Find 5
Xiaomi MI2/MI2A/MI2S
Most of MTK quad core smartphone, such as THL brand, ZOPO brand, etc;
Most of Rockchip Tablet PC, such as cube, pipo brand etc.

Geekbuying.com bundles the T1000, an HDMI swiveling converter adapter and wallwart power supply for US$39.07:

image

I’ve ordered one for comparison with the Sienoc offering fulfilled by Amazon below.


Amazon Offers EZCast Dongle for US$34.99 with Free Shipping from China

Amazon’s Generic Ez Cast M2 Android Hdmi 1080p Player Dongle Wifi Display Receiver Adapter Color Black item from third-party supplier Sienoc is competitive with Chromecast at US$34.99 with free shipping from China:

image Like the Tronsmart T1000 above, Sienoc’s offering doesn’t include a power supply or HDMI cable. However, I’ve never heard of the the following Android version mentioned in Amazon’s Product Details:

image

I’ve ordered one for the HDTV in the living room and will report my findings. Note the similarity to Chromecast’s trade dress.


Updating EZCast to Firmware v11164 and App v1.1.97

imageThe new “Official” EZCast Google+ community, operated by a former and purportedly current Action Microelectronics employees, is intended to supplant Jerome Yu’s WiFi EZCast community. Simon Lee, the community owner, announced EZCast firmware version 11164 released! on 12/1/2013:

Update note:
1. Integrate EZCast, DLNA and EZAir features to simplify remote controlling
2. Reserve modified SSID password after OTA update
3. Clarify the error message of failure internet connection
4. Support Nexus 5 miracast and EZCast video selection
5. Improve Miracast connection and compatibility.
6. Improve DLNA compatibility
7. Improve EZAir for iOS7
8. Support m4a audio
9. Fix minor bugs and refine UI

If you have problems with over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates to your EZCast dongle, instructions and a file for manually updating the firmware are now available from Denny Wang’s SkyDrive account.

Simon also announced EZCast Android app version 1.1.97 has been released from the Google Play Store on 12/3/2013:

Major changes:
1. Add Comment and Update functions.
2. Automatically link to EZCast devices
3. Support Youtube HD video playing
4. Fix minor bugs and refine UI

The Play Store entry’s EZCast screen capture wasn’t updated for the newly added Comment and Update buttons shown in my screen capture:

image    image

image    image

EZCast app v1.1.97 installs as expected on my Tronsmart MK908, whereas previous versions would not. Here are the help screens you see when installing:

image

image

image

imageConnecting imageImage on TV/Monitor when connected.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Details from the CPU-Z App

image

CPU-Z is the Android version of a popular free CPU identification tool for Windows PCs that reports information about your device:

  • SoC (System On Chip): Name, architecture, clock speed for each core
  • System information: Device brand and model, screen resolution, RAM, storage
  • Battery information: Level, status, temperature
  • Sensors

Here are captures for my Samsung Galaxy S4 (Verizon) that I use for testing my EZCast dongles:

image      image

image     image

image


 


Connecting Your Device to the EZCast Dongle

image1. Uninstall your existing EZCast app version and install v1.0.0.47 of 9/6/2013 from the Google Play Store.

2. Launch the EZCast app.

2a. If this WiFi Settings pane appears:

image

2b. Tap the WiFi Setting button to open the WiFi Networks list:

image

2c. Tap the EZCast-SerialNumber item to open the EZCast – SerialNumber connection pane:

image

2d. Tap Connect to confirm the EZCast connection:

image

3. Click the Back button to display the updated home screen with an “EZMirror” instead of “Miracast” choice:

image

Your monitor displays this corresponding TV screen:

image


EZCasting Local MPEG-4/H.264 Video Files

image1. If your EZCast device is running with the default resolution (720p30), tap the phone’s setting icon, navigate to the Resolution section, and tap the ^ (up-arrow) button twice to select 1080p30 resolution:

Settings1080p30

Reconnect to the EZCast-SerialNumber network as shown in steps 2c and 2d of the preceding section.

image2. If you have a video file saved in MPEG-4/H.264 format in the Gallery, tap the phone’s Video icon to open the Complete Action Using pane:

image

Which displays the following TV screen:

image

3. Tap the Just Once or Always button to display video thumbnail(s):

image

4. Tap the thumbnail to open an individual image and tap it to display the G4’s default media player controls (start/pause, volume up/down):

image

And view live video, letterboxed 704 x 480p displayed and captured at 720p for this time-shifted “Detective Montalbano – Equal Time” episode, on the connected HDTV:

imageImage courtesy of MHzWorldView

Note: The Hauppauge Colossus card used to capture the still video frames has a maximum resolution of 1080i to avoid High Definition Copy Protection (HDCP) problems. Therefore, I must change the EZCast’s Resolution setting to 720p to capture video frames on my development PC. Following is a capture of an 1080p video downscaled to 720p by EZCast and displayed on my Insignia monitor:

Yellowstone720pImage of Yellowstone National Park courtesy of National Geographical Society

I encountered no problems with audio sync or video stuttering with this video, which had an original data rate of 2.915 kbps. Performance was considerably better than Chromecasting local MPEG-4/H.264 files from a Chrome browser tab to the same HDTV monitor.


Casting You Tube Movies from the Web Browser

image1. Tap the EZCast screen’s Web icon to open the browser and display the default http://www.iezvu.com/webdefault-ph-US/US/index.html page, which includes graphical links to a number of popular Web sites:

WebDefaultPage

Note: Hidden at the bottom of the above list are links to eBay, Twitter, The Weather Channel and Facebook. Netflix is conspicuous by its absence. According to a message of 9/9/2013 from Jerome Yu in Google+’s WiFi EZCast community:

EZCast web with netflix: We still need time to do it.

2. Tap the You Tube icon to open a list of currently popular videos:

YouTubeVideosList

3. Tap a list item, such as the CNET News clip above to cast it in full-screen 720p mode to the connected HDTV:

YouTubeCNetNewsApple

I’ll update this article when Winner Wave Co., Ltd. completes the software fix for Netflix compatibility.


Casting Music, Photos and Camera Images

image1. Tap the EZCast screen’s Music icon to open the Complete Action Using pane and select one of the default apps (three if you’ve enabled Dropbox):

MusicCompleteActionUsing

2. Tap Choose Music Track for this example to open the Choose Music Track list and tap a track to play:

MusicChooseMusicTrack

3. Tap OK to play open the player controls and play the track through the device (HDTV or A/V receiver) connected to the EZCast:

MusicPlaybackControls

And display a simple animation on the HDTV set:

MusicTVDisplay

Note: The Dropbox and Sound Picker options offer similar methods of selecting a particular track to play from local or cloud storage. I have found no default methods implement playlists. At this point in EZCast’s development, your best choice is to use the DLNA feature with the BubbleUPnP local media server for playlists.

4. Tap the Photo icon to open the Photo screen with a choice of Camera or Screenshot sources:

image

5. Tap a source (Camera for this example) to display a thumbnail image mosaic:

PhotoPhotoMosaic

6. Tap a thumbnail to display the original photo on the phone and TV set:

PhotoFuseBoxKimchiSubject: Kimchi and other Korean side-dishes (BanChan) from Oakland’s
Fusebox Restaurant

PhotoTVBanChanFull-screen TV image

image7. Tap the Camera icon to project the smartphone’s camera image to the TV.


Casting Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel and Word Documents with the Office Feature

imageEZCast’s Office feature enables casting Microsoft Office PowerPoint, Excel, and Word documents or Adobe Portable Document Format files for presentations with large-screen TV sets or projectors having an HDMI input. EZCast competitors call this feature iPush or the like. To open *.pptx, *.xslx, *.docx or *.pdf files and project their contents, do the following:

1. Tap the EZCast screen’s Office icon to open the Galaxy S4’s default Download folder with the following folder and User Manual files:EZCastOfficeDefault

and display the Office selection on the TV screen:

EZCastOfficeTV

2. Tap one of the *.pdf files to open the splash screen and swipe to page 1 on the phone:

EZCastOfficePDFonS4

and TV:

EZCastOfficePDFonTV

3. Tap the Pen icon in the upper right corner to annotate the image with a line of selected color, width and opacity, and tap the disc icon in the lower left corner to save the annotated page as a static *.jpg file:

EZCastOfficePDFAnnotationonS4

image4. If you have Office document stored in the Documents folder, Tap the < (back) icon and the top .. item in the file list, scroll to and tap the Documents folder to display PowerPoint, Excel and/or Word files:

EZCastOfficeFilesS4

5. Tap one of the Office files, such as this *.xlsx, to display it formatted on the phone:

EZCastOfficeExcelS4Total cost for an UG007 Android MiniPC setup with 24-inch HDTV monitor and wireless router plus keyboard/mouse (from First Look at the UG007 and Other Android 4.1+ MiniPC Devices.)

and TV:

EZCastOfficeExcelTV

PowerPoint slides and Word documents also appear fully formatted on the phone and TV.


Using EZCast’s DLNA Feature with a BubbleUPnP Local Server

Contents:

Related Articles:

The availability of more than 200 different DLNA-related apps from Google’s Play Store proves that Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) have become the most popular media sharing technology for Android tablet and smartphone users. For more information about DLNA and UPnP, see the  The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) section of my Miracast-Compatible Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes article.


DLNA Certification Status of EZCast Devices and Supported Apps

Actions Microelectronics Co. Ltd. (Actions-Micro), the manufacturer of the EZ-Cast dongle, had a single DLNA certified product when this post was written:

image_thumb[2]

Actions-Micro offers an EZ Display app from the Google Play Store. This app appears to be the forerunner of Winner Wave, Ltd. apps for the EZCast dongle. (Actions-Micro’s Contact Us page lists Winner Wave Limited as Actions-Micro’s Taiwan office.) Actions-Micro’s Product page describes only Digital Photo Frame devices with model numbers AM72XXX. AM82XX devices might be a later model. The EZCast Digital Media Render dongle (see step 6 of the following section for detailed information) is not specifically certified and Winner Wave doesn’t appear in the DLNA Manufacturer’s list, so Actions-Micro or Winner Wave’s use of the DLNA trademark to indicate that the device or its software is certified appears unauthorized.

The EZCast DLNA feature is a DLNA Digital Media Renderer (DMR), which supports DLNA-compliant Digital Media Players (DMPs) and Digital Media Controllers (DMCs). The BubbleUPnP app for Android is a DMC that provides a UI for streaming content from your phone’s local storage or Internet storage from providers such as Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and the like. Samsung Galaxy S4 and later phones also support the Samsung Link (formerly AllShare) application by default, but Samsung’s latest DLNA-certified phone was the SCH-i920 (9/20/2009). EZCast software provides rudimentary help screens for BubbleUPnP, Skifta and Samsung Link. Of the three apps, only Qualcomm Atheros’ Skifta for Android app is DLNA-certified.

Update 9/18/2013: Actions-Micro doesn’t appear to be related to Actions Semiconductor (Actions-Semi), a fabless semiconductor supplier located in Zhuhai, Guandong, China. For more information about Actions-Micro’s iPush, iPushMirror and iCast apps for Android, see the Actions Semiconductor Offers iPush and iCast Android Apps for Mysterious Miracast and DLNA Device section of my Miracast-Compatible Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes article.


Casting Music from Locally Stored Tracks

1. If you haven’t done so already, install the BubbleUPnP app for Android from Google’s Play Store to your Android smartphone:

image

Note: The BubbleUPnP License removes the ads and limitations of the free version.

image2. With your phone connected by WiFi to the EZCast dongle, tap the DLNA icon to display the main DLNA screen on your phone:

DNLAMainScreenS4

and TV set:

DNLABubbleUPnP-Main-TV

3. Click the phone’s ON button to open the Supported DNLA list:

DLNASupportedAppsS4

4. Click the BubbleUPnP item to open the app’s main page, and display a rudimentary help screen on the TV:

DNLABubbleUPnP-Main-TV2

5. Click the DEVICES button to select your EZCast-SerialNumber device as the renderer, and verify that BubbleUPnP’s Local Media Server is selected as the Library:

DNLABubbleUPnP-DevicesS4

6. Press and hold the EZCast-SerialNumber item and select Info to display EZCast’s UPnP details and capabilities:

DLNA-EZCastInfoScreenS4

7. Click the LIBRARY button to open the list of BubbleUPnP libraries and scroll it to display hidden items:

DNLABubbleUPnPLibrary1-S4

DNLABubbleUPnPLibrary2-S4 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Tap Music and All Tracks to open a list of tracks from all your locally stored albums in alphabetical order by title:

DLNAAllTracks-S4

9. Tap the starting track play it back through your TV or home theater’s amplifier:

DLNAPlayingTrack-TV

10. Tap back to return to the Music list, press and hold the All Tracks item to open the EZCast – SerialNumber actions list:

DLNA-Enque and Play S4

11. Tap Enqueue and Play to play all tracks sequentially. If you skip this step, the next track in sequence will buffer but not play. See the Troubleshooting: Problems Playing Multiple Tracks from Shuffled Playlist section below for details.

12. Tap the PLAYLIST button to open a similar (but editable) list:

DLNAPlaylist-S4

image13. Click the NOW PLAYING button and click the Shuffle Playlist button to play multiple Playlist tracks in random sequence:

DLNAShufflePlaylist-S4

Note: The Enqueue and Play action appears to require saved Playlists.


Casting a Slideshow of Local JPEG Images

The current EZCast software supports only image/JPEG and image/JPG MIME types, as shown in the preceding section’s step 6. If you have *.jpg pictures stored locally, you can enqueue and play them to your TV as a slide show. Here’s how:

1. Click the LIBRARY button and tap Images in the Local Media Server list to display the Images list:

DLNASlideshowImagesS4

2. Press and hold the Pictures item (or another folder containing your slideshow images) to open the EZCast – SerialNumber menu:

DLNASlideshowEnqueueS4

3. Tap Enqueue and Play to open the slideshow player with the first image in the folder open in your phone:

DLNASlideshow1stImageS4

and on TV:

DLNASlideshow1stImageTVA 1024×768-px portrait image in landscape mode (image rotation isn’t available)

image4. Tap  the Tools icon to open the Share Image list with the targets shown here and hidden below:

DLNASlideshowShareImageS4

image4. Tap back, tap the image background, and click the right-arrow to start the slideshow with the default 5 second interval (use the + or – buttons to increase or decrease the interval by 1 second):

DLNASlideshowLastImageTVLast image (768x768px) in a series of yucca flower photos.

Problem: Two seconds of each image alternates with about three seconds of the default EZCast DLNA screen as shown in this brief You Tube video. This problem obviously would distract an audience.

This feature needs fixing if EZCast/BubbleUPnP is to compete with commercial Digital Picture Frame software.


Troubleshooting:  Playing Multiple Tracks from Folders and Playlists

If you attempt to play a sequence of tracks from All Tracks or a Saved Playlist without enqueueing them, successive tracks fail to play. When the initially selected track completes, the TV shows a brief buffering message for the next track:

DLNAShufflePlaylistProblemTV

and then reverts to the default DLNA screen of step 2. The above still frame occurs at about 00:00:06 in the following You Tube video: