What is Miracast Wireless Connectivity and What Does It Do?

Example of Miracast/Screen Mirroring
Example of Miracast/Screen Mirroring.

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Miracast is a point-to-point, enhanced version of WiFi Direct and Intel's WiDi (WiDi has been discontinued in light of a Miracast update that makes it compatible with Windows 8.1 and 10-equipped PCs and laptops).

Miracast facilitates the transfer of both audio and video content between two compatible devices without the need to be near a WiFi Access Point, router, or integration within full home or office network.

Miracast is also referred to as Screen Mirroring, Display Mirroring, SmartShare (LG), AllShare Cast (Samsung).

Benefits of Miracast

  • Due to its point-to-point operation, audio and video signal transfer is not affected by crowded network traffic or other network connectivity issues. If you have both a Miracast-enabled source and destination or display device, you are all set to go.
  • Miracast allows the transfer of both audio and video content and has support for the H.264 video file format and supports up to 1080p resolution, along with 5.1 channel surround sound. In addition, Miracast provides WPA2 security.
  • Miracast is implemented in a number of devices, including TVs, Video Projectors, Blu-ray Disc players, home theater receivers, cable/satellite boxes, media streamers, smartphones, tablets, laptop PCs, and more...
  • When used with a Blu-ray Disc or media streaming player, your smartphone or tablet sends the content to the player wirelessly using Miracast, and then the player sends the content to your TV via its physical HDMI connection.
  • Miracast is a convenient way to share audio and video between devices, such as sending video content from a smartphone or tablet to a TV, or from content being viewed on a TV from a cable/satellite/media streamer box to a tablet or smartphone for portable viewing.
  • If you have a laptop or tablet and a video projector that are Miracast-enabled, you can easily display a business or classroom presentation wirelessly that you may have on your laptop or tablet on video projector for big screen display viewing.

How to Connect a Laptop or Computer to Your TV

Miracast setup and operation

To use Miracast, you first have to enable it on both your source and destination device via the settings available on the two devices. You then "tell" your source device to search for the other Miracast device and then, once your source device finds the other device, and the two devices recognize each other, you initiate a pairing procedure.

You will know that everything is operating correctly when you see (and/or hear) your content on both the source and destination device. Then you can access additional features, such as transferring or pushing content between the two devices if those features are available to you. Another thing to point out is that you only need to pair the devices once. If you come back later, the two devices should automatically recognize each other without having to be "re-paired". Of course, you can easily pair them again.

Once Miracast is operating, everything you see on your smartphone or tablet screen is replicated on your TV or video projector screen. In other words, content is pushed (or mirrored) from your portable device to your TV but is still displayed on your portable device. In addition to content, you can also mirror the onscreen menus and settings options provided on your portable device on your TV. This allows you to control what you see on your TV screen using your portable device, instead of your TV remote.

However, one thing to point out is that the content shared or mirrored has to have either video or video/audio elements. Miracast is not designed to work with audio-only devices (Bluetooth and standard network-connected WiFi is used for that purpose with compatible devices).

Miracast use example

Here is an example of how you can use Miracast at home.

You have a video, movie, or show, on an Android tablet that you would like to watch on your TV, so you can share it with the whole family.

If your TV and tablet are both Miracast-enabled, you just sit down on the couch, pair the tablet with the TV, and then push the video wirelessly from the tablet to the TV (remember, both the TV and tablet or smartphone display the same content).

When you are done watching the video, just push the video back to the tablet where you have it saved. While the rest of the family returns to view a regular TV program or movie, you can go into your home office and use the tablet to continue viewing the content you had shared, access some notes you took at a meeting earlier in the day, or perform any other normal tablet or smartphone functions.

For mirroring content from an iPad, there are other requirements.

The bottom line

With the increased use of portable smart devices, Miracast makes it a lot more convenient to share content with others on your home TV, instead of having everybody huddle around your device.

Miracast specifications and product certification approvals are administered by the WiFi Alliance.

For more on Miracast-Certified devices, check out the official continually updated listing provided by the WiFi Alliance.

In a very controversial move, Google has dropped native Miracast support in smartphones that use Android 6 and later in favor of its own Chromecast platform, which does not provide the same screen mirroring capabilities and requires online access.