Microsoft takes on Apple TV and Chromecast with $60 HDMI streaming stick

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (image 004)

Although dated last week, it’s relevant so I thought I should share it with you guys. Windows maker Microsoft has introduced an interesting dongle which connects to an external display, projector, monitor or other HDMI-driven display device so you can stream content wirelessly from your phone, tablet or PC.

Much like Apple’s AirPlay technology and the $99 Apple TV media-streaming box, Microsoft’s $60 HDMI dongle makes it easy to enjoy games and media on your big screen HD TV, no cables needed.

The $59.99 accessory goes on sale next month at Best Buy locations in the U. S.

If I may opine, Microsoft really needs to hire some creative branding people because the Wireless Display Adapter doesn’t sound like an exciting moniker. Besides, with that price tag (Chromecast is just $35, for instance) the accessory is in the need of a catchy name if the Windows maker is to convince people they need it in their multi-screened lives.

And this is what it looks like.

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (image 001)

After plugging the USB and HDMI from the device into your HDTV or monitor, you’ll be able to mirror or extend your screen.

Botha a blessing and a curse, the Wireless Display Adapter runs on the Miracast protocol meaning your smartphone, tablet or PC must support the protocol. Many Windows PCs and tablets running Windows 8.1 support Miracast, but not Macs.

This Microsoft support document takes you through the process of projecting to a wireless display with Miracast in Windows 8.1 step by step. And, this one explains how to project to a wireless display with Windows Phone 8.1.

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (image 003)

For those unaware, Miracast is a peer-to-peer wireless screencasting standard formed via Wi-Fi Direct connections in a manner similar to Bluetooth.

This means that the Wireless Display Adapter does not require a Wi-Fi hotspot to work as it establishes a direct (Wi-Fi Direct) connection with your desktop or mobile device.

Check out Microsoft’s promotional video below showing the dongle in action.

Miracast just works across a whole bunch of different apps and services. Another benefit: it doesn’t require debs to use special APIs to implement the protocol.

As Microsoft explains, because the Wireless Display Adapter uses Miracast technology, “you’re not limited to certain apps or content streaming” and can “display everything from your device”.

To pre-order your Wireless Display Adapter, hop over to the Online Microsoft Store or check out the Microsoft Hardware website.

[Windows Blog]