Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chromecast isn’t Miracast/WiFi Direct/WiDi/Airplay… at least not yet

I got really excited when I caught wind of the new device Google rolled out earlier today, ChromeCast. I’ve been trying out a NetGear Push2TV PTV-3000 and an Actiontec ScreenBeam pro just the last few days, with a very frustrating and mixed bag of results (more on that in a detailed future post). I hoped that Chromecast might represent a big new player (Google) coming into the wireless HD market (so far, we’ve had very few players and only a handful of devices) that might herald in a new era of easy, platform agnostic connections between devices and screens. Such does not seem to be the case… yet. For now at least, Chromecast only allows you to stream what you can see in your Chrome browser to your TV, and even then possibly only a subset of the content that might be there (although it works on a ton of devices/platforms, so good on you, Google). As it stands now, Chromecast can’t show anything you can pull up on your laptop/mobile device, just what you can display in the chrome browser—that no Microsoft applications, no gaming, no running an app on your smartphone over the Chromecast, etc. But I hope that may be coming soon, especially since this approach requires no special chipset(s) to work (unlike Miracast/WiFi Direct/WiDi/Airplay), just a Wi-Fi enabled device.

I did manage to snag a chat session with a google rep who answered some of my questions, but they had to beg off when I ranged into too technical an area, shunting our chat over to a technical specialist for an email follow up. Once I get more details, I’ll cull from the chat and email and have a more detailed post (including things like frame rate, delay, audio formats supported). Oh, they were able to tell me it support “up to 1080p.” We’ll hopefully find out exactly what that ominous “up to” means later.

16 comments:

  1. Looking forward to more details from your chat with Google tech.. I, too, have experimented with different devices (mk808, netgear ptv3000, xios ds, AppleTV,raspberry pi) and Chromecast looks very promising. Of course, I was ready to become a developer when Miracast was announced, so my hopes are tempered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I definitely feel your frustration over how poorly implemented WiFi Direct seems to be, based on my experience so far with the two adapters I've mentioned and trying to connect three Windows 7 (pre-Ivy Bridge) laptops and a windows 8 (Ivy Bridge) tablet. The only device that has connected to either adapter out of the box so far has been a Samsung Galaxy S3 (and even then the image quality was a bit disappointing). I'll be finishing my tweaks and tests with the adapters (using my Windows 8 tablet, the other laptops were borrowed from colleagues) this weekend, and should have the post up about it sometime next week. Keep an eye out for another post after that on my overall impressions of a Windows 8 tablet after living with it for three months the week after that. Okay, off to go install the windows 8.1 preview release. Wish me luck!

      Delete
    2. You haven't set up your Miracast dongle properly. Mine works fine on my S4 and laptop and S3. See my video uploads on my YouTube channel linked http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3luUN-1GwetTZCiRamN1GQ where I describe how to update your laptop drivers etc. And see the comments on my various Wi-Di and Miracast videos on optimising positioning of the dongle

      Delete
    3. Hey veryannoyingname, I couldn't fit my entire reply to you in the character limit, so I promoted it to a blog post. Let's keep the conversation going over here: http://caflib.blogspot.com/2013/08/not-so-quick-reply-to-veryannoyingnames.html

      Delete
  2. Chromecast's magic is really its price point. At $35, I'm far more comfortable experimenting with it to see if it does what I would like compared to $100+ gadgets that do similar things.
    Hopefully the potential takes off to do even more like extending the screen instead of just mirroring it.

    Supposedly you can grab them from Best Buy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Netgear and Actiontec WiFi Direct adapters I’m testing now aren’t too pricey at $60-$70, basically twice what the Chromecast is at $35. I’m definitely going to get a Chromecast sooner or later to play with, and hope future software and firmare updates expand its functionality. What the WiFi Direct style adapters have going for them (when you can get them to work, more on their finicky nature and initial setup issues in a future post) is they are a true HDMI over a WiFi connection—so just the same as having a really, really long HDMI cable running from your tv/monitor/projector over to your laptop/tablet/mobile device. When I saw the announcement and early videos I thought that was also what the Chromecast is doing, but it’s not. It’s not mirroring or extending your device to the TV as if it's another display. It’s taking content that’s being streamed into your chrome browser and re-streaming it to the adapter. So if what you want to beam to you TV isn’t in the Chrome Browser, you’re out of luck. Details are sketchy, but it looks like even if it is in your Chrome browser, that’s still not a guarantee you can beam it to your TV/etc. Can I beam any web page (just static text, not streaming content) to the TV? I’m waiting to hear back from Google, but the answer looks to be “for now, no, just the subset of streaming services we are supporting at this time.” Fun to play with, sure, but not the wireless display connection I am longing for… yet.

      Delete
  3. Wow. Google really outdid themselves... competing with random asian makers that sell better devices for the same price... You can get a full blown android device with DLNA and miracast for the exact same price, only you can read 1080p with them, and you're not limited to a chrome window.

    Really Google? Really?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The MK801 devices etc. don't really provide an ideal solution either as you can't mirror to them without going through a router using special software.. Miracast (P2TV) is much a much better idea, and now works well with my Nexus 4 and Win latop.. Had hoped however that the google dongle would have supported Miracast thus eliminating the netgear box.

      Delete
    2. I'm still hoping that if the Chromecast really takes off, version >2 will start working more like Miracast/WiDi (is supposed to). I don't know about you, but I've had very uneven success using the Netgear PTV-3000 so far (even with the very latest firmware). I'll give the Screenbeam a look tomorrow (after I finally just call it as goods as it gets with the netgear-- not quite ready to concede defeat just yet) and see if it works a little better.

      Delete
  4. Intel® WiDi lets you easily stream all the things you love directly to your big screen HDTV.1 ,, not just wht you see on browser,but any app,game,video,etc.,

    more info here- http://www.intel.in/content/www/in/en/architecture-and-technology/intel-wireless-display.html
    regards,
    Priya

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Priya,

      That's the hope, at least, and what I'm investigating. So far though, Miracast seems to be proving a more plug-and-play friendly approach to implementing WiFi Direct than Intel's own WiDi approach to it. Even with the hiccups I've had so far, though, I think if pressed for a recommendations at this point I'd also tell anyone with a smidge of tech know-how (or just plain grit) that's it worth sacrificing the (apparent, my Chromecast isn't here yet, but from what I've read of other people trying it out) ease of setup of the Chromecast for the a more capable (but perhaps a bit tougher to get running) Miracast/WiDi combo devices (like the Netgear PTV-3000 or the Miracast ScreanBeam Pro).

      Delete
  5. I think I'm gonna love chromecast. Google really did a great job. Actually... it always does.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Google has become much more than just a simple search engine. They are the best.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So.. I have a laptop that has WiDi built-in.. What's the best (cheapest that WORKS) dongle to hook to the TV which will give me real screen duplication? And.. Does that technology convey the audio too?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Google is the worst, agreed, chromecast around because of ignorance.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Chromecast can stream your laptop screen, but it's in beta fase and have 2 seconds lag.
    I use it mostly to watch movies using video stream app and I love it.

    ReplyDelete