Windows 8.1 incorporates support for the Miracast wireless display technologies, which allow a wireless 1080p and 5.1 surround sound streams to a Miracast display device. There are several different Miracast receivers available, including the ScreenBeam Pro, Belkin’s ScreenCast TV Adapter for Intel Wireless Display, and the Netgear PTV3000 to name some of the more popular ones in market.
Miracast builds on the Intel Wireless Display techologies built into the GPU capabilities of many recent Intel CPUs, but is vendor agnostic, so there is no longer a reliance on Intel CPU to deliver this capability. This opens up the market for ARM and AMD, to name two of the other main chip vendors, to be able to be at the heart of solutions, including a variety of laptops and tablets from a huge number of OEMs, including Android devices alongside Windows 8.1 as well.
When choosing a Miracast playback device, you would typically be connecting to your display via HDMI, but as you can see above you can connect via the Belkin device via composite video and analog stereo connections, which means that even really old televisions don’t need to miss out on the fun. Just be wary that text is not going to be as clear across the composite connection, but it’s still more than capable of display images and video.
Both the Netgear and Belkin devices shown here are external devices that require power and need to be connected to the display via the appropriate cable option, but there are also a new generation of devices beoming available that plug in directly to the HDMI port. Due to the size of these devices, you may find you need to use a HDMI extender cable or HDMI male to female adapter in order to get it to be used alongside other HDMI ports that are in use.
A word of advice with these – make sure you get a device that has upgradeable firmware and that recent firmware updates are available. This should help with a wider range of device compatibility and easier setup. Also, if you are in an environment which has a lot of interference in the 2.4GHz range, make sure you can test out these solutions before committing to them.
Belkin also seems to have the Miracast Video Adapter, but it doesn’t seem to be readily available at the moment. It plugs directly into the HDMI port like I mentioned above, but it’s big differentiator versus many of the competitors is that it supports 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, potentially making it much more reliable in some environments with excessive amounts of 2.4 GHz interference. This is the one I haven’t had a chance to test just yet, but am hoping that it helps address some of the issues of earlier devices.