Miracast is one of several wireless display standards. If you have a Miracast device and display, you can send a video signal from one device to another without using a long HDMI cable.
Sounds good, right? The problem is that in practice Miracast competes with many other seemingly similar standards. This means that many users are unsure if they can use Miracast or even if it is a suitable wireless display technology.
What is Miracast?
Miracast is a standard defined by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which means it is based on WiFi technology Specifically, it uses Wi-Fi Direct, which creates a Wi-Fi connection between two devices without the need for a router or other access point to act as an intermediary.
This wireless connection transfers video data in H.264 format It is by far the most widely used HD video coding standard. Miracast officially supports resolutions up to 1080p, also known as “Full HD”. In terms of audio, the standard also supports 5.1 surround sound.
If there is a Miracast display within reach, all you have to do is select it as your display and stream your media to it. The beauty of Miracast is that any two certified devices will handle all the internal details of the connection, and you can just continue to work or play.
Who are Miracast’s competitors?
Miracast was released in 2012, but there are many alternative technologies out there today. The two most well-known alternatives are Google Cast and Apple Airplay. There is also the Intel WiDi (wireless display) standard, which offers performance with potential for low latency applications such as VR (virtual reality). These standards are incompatible. In other words, your Miracast device will not communicate with the Apple Airplay device.
Unfortunately, years after the launch of Miracast, we are still not very close to creating a single universal standard or wireless display technology.
Who Supports Miracast?
For a device to work with Miracast, it needs both the correct hardware and software. So, while you may have a device running a compatible operating system, you’ll need the right silicon under the hood to get it to work as well.
Miracast support has been built into Windows since version 8.1, and Windows 10 continues to support Miracast as both a transmitter and receiver.
You won’t find Miracast support from Apple in the computing world. macOS and iOS use Airplay as their only built-in option. Several software workarounds have been found over the years, but in our experience they were unreliable and worked poorly.
Linux support exists, but there doesn’t seem to be any development incentive behind it. MiracleCast and wireless display software for Linux are two commonly cited options.
Android users also receive mixed reviews. For a while, MiraCast support was built into Android itself, but from Android 6.0 onward, this support disappeared. However, individual Android device manufacturers may decide to bring Miracast hardware and software support back to those devices.
Therefore, if you want to know if your Android device will work with the MiraCast display, you will need to study the documentation for that specific device.
What types of devices are MiraCast devices? Basically, any device that can generate video could potentially be equipped with MiraCast technology. In practice, this is roughly what you would expect. Tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops and other common computing devices can also be Miracast certified.
Sometimes Miracast support can be added through a software update later, but this will depend on the hardware manufacturer.
What if you have a display that doesn’t have MiraCast support built into it? The good news is that this is a fairly simple issue that doesn’t involve buying a brand new display. All you have to do is purchase a MiraCast dongle and plug it into one of the HDMI ports on your display.
The best part about this is that you can take your key with you so you can connect it to any displays at your destination. For example, you can connect it to a corporate projector when you want to give a presentation, and since MiraCast uses a direct connection, you don’t have to worry about using a local wireless network.
Some displays have built-in MiraCast hardware. This means you don’t have to do anything special to stream a picture from your Miracast device. When near a Miracast display, it should appear in the list of available broadcast targets on the source device.
MiraCast Software Receivers
To be certified as a Miracast device, you need to have the necessary hardware and software resources on hand, but this does not mean that MiraCast solutions are always tied to specific equipment.
The best example of this is probably Airserver Universal for PC, an amazing software that acts as a universal receiver for MiraCast, Google Cast, and Apple AirPlay. This means you can install the software on a laptop, connect it to a projector or other large display, and mirror just about any device people come with.
Is MiraCast Safe?
Safe enough – about as secure as WiFi. This is because MiraCast uses the same security protocols as modern Wi-Fi. This makes it unlikely that someone will be able to remotely monitor the transmission.
For 99% of all users, MiraCast’s built-in security is fine. However, if you use it to submit top secret plans to DARPA, you can simply use an HDMI cable.
MiraCast is a fairly reliable and easy-to-use screen mirroring technology, but it does have a few major drawbacks. First, the standard does not define any minimum latency standards. This means that if you have an application (like a game or an interactive demo) that requires low latency, there is no guarantee that your particular MiraCast setup will be good enough.
MiraCast also does not support any audio applications, so you cannot simply send music or other audio information to the MiraCast receiver. Since almost everything is Bluetooth these days, it doesn’t really matter. However, this is worth knowing.
Another major disadvantage of MiraCast is that you can only use it to mirror the device screen. For example, with AirPlay, you can set up your wireless display as a second monitor rather than a mirror. This is useful from both a performance and presentation point of view.
Is Miracast important?
When Miracast was first released, it seemed pretty revolutionary, but the fact is, Miracast overtook both AirPlay and Google Cast Since the mobile world is so carefully divided between iOS and Android, it seems like support for Miracast is a bit lackluster.
If you already have a Miracast device and display, there is nothing wrong with using it. However, unless Miracast gets a significant update, there is little reason to look for this technology.