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The best Miracast and screen-mirroring devices in 2020

Best Miracast devices

You'll want one of the best Miracast or screen-mirroring devices if streaming the contents of your phone, tablet or computer to a TV is your goal. While the best streaming devices can deliver content from popular streaming services, a Miracast gadget will allow you to display whatever you want on a TV screen, whether it’s an obscure video app, a selection of photos or an office presentation. The technology is a little dated, but it’s still arguably quite useful.

Truthfully, though, the best Miracast devices have been a little stagnant over the past few years. The technology hasn’t gotten markedly better, and what worked a few years ago still works fine now. Miracast is also no longer the only game in town when it comes to screen-mirroring protocols. If you have an Android device, Google Cast works much better — as does AirPlay, if you prefer Apple gadgets.

As such, I’ve made a short list of three different devices for screen mirroring protocols. It includes our best Miracast gadget recommendation, as well as devices you can use for better screen-mirroring experiences on Android and Apple. (Miracast is still arguably your best bet for Windows PCs.)

What are the best Miracast and screen-mirroring devices?

The best Miracast and screen-mirroring devices don’t make up a very long list. As stated above, Miracast isn’t a perfect streaming protocol at the best of times. The fact that it’s pretty easy to produce Miracast receivers means that there are a lot of second-rate products out there. Lots of devices support Miracast protocols, from Rokus to Amazon Fire TVs, but for my money, I’ve only ever found one that worked as it was supposed to. That’s the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. You plug the gadget into a TV, where it receives a Miracast signal from your phone or computer. That’s all it does, but it works properly, and that’s more than you can say for many Miracast receivers.

If you’re not committed to Miracast as your screen mirroring protocol, other companies have made better ones. Take Google, for example, with its Google Cast functionality. It works just like Miracast, and you can mirror content from either an Android device or a Chrome browser. You can use the Google Chromecast as a receiver. The regular Chromecast works fine if you intend to mirror at 1080p; higher resolutions will require a Google Chromecast Ultra instead.

On the other hand, if you fall on the Apple side of the spectrum, you can pick up an Apple TV and use the AirPlay mirroring protocol. AirPlay is compatible with Macbooks and iOS devices, and works the same way as any other mirroring service. An Apple TV can be particularly useful for Macbook owners, since Miracast works only with Windows PCs and Android devices.

The best Miracast and screen-mirroring devices you can buy today

Best Miracast: Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

For Windows Devices

Screen Mirroring Protocol: Miracast | Size: 3.5 x 0.9 x 0.4 inches | Weight: 1.2 oz

Works almost perfectly with both Android and Windows devices
Trivially easy to set up and use
Fantastic audiovisual quality
Short, unremovable power cord
Expensive

Miracast is a technology that allows Android and Windows devices to cast content to TV screens. Most Miracast receivers range from terrible to passable, but the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter actually works the way it's supposed to. The device is a small HDMI stick with nearly perfect wireless mirroring. Whether you need to stream music, videos, photos, lightweight games or productivity apps, the Wireless Display Adapter can do so with no lag. Simply plug it in, connect your PC or Android device, and see your content on the big screen. That's all the device does, and all it needs to do.

Bear in mind that since Miracast works only with Windows PCs and Android devices, this adapter won’t do you any good if you have a Mac OS computer or an iOS phone. There are solutions for those devices further down on this page, however.

Best Miracast: Google Chromecast

(Image credit: Google)

2. Google Chromecast

For Android Devices

Screen Mirroring Protocol: Google Cast | Size: 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 1.4 oz

Fast performance
Inexpensive
Intuitive interface
Boring, stripped-down design
No significant improvements over second gen

Android devices can take advantage of Google Cast: Google's proprietary screen-mirroring protocol. This broadcasts whatever's on your phone or tablet's screen onto your TV with very little lag or quality loss. While many devices offer Google Cast functionality, the cheapest and easiest is the Chromecast, which costs very little and uses your existing mobile device or computer as a remote control. Google's standard Chromecast can broadcast content at 1080p, while its more expensive Ultra variant can handle 4K media.

While Google Cast works best with Android phones and tablets, you can use it with computers as well. If you use Google’s Chrome browser, you can “tab cast,” or mirror whatever you have open in a Chrome tab to your television. This feature isn’t as rock solid as Google Cast from phones, but it’s still a convenient option for those who want to get the most out of their Chromecasts.

Best Miracast: Apple TV

(Image credit: Future)

3. Apple TV

For Apple Users

Screen Mirroring Protocol: AirPlay | Size: 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches | Weight: 15.0 oz

Gorgeous, intelligent interface
Lots of great content
Smart Siri integration
Expensive
Subpar touch controls

AirPlay is one of the oldest and most reliable screen-mirroring protocols. Using an iOS mobile device or a Mac computer, users can mirror their displays on an Apple TV. The setup and activation are essentially foolproof, and the streaming quality for music, photos and video is excellent. Apple TV is also a full-featured set-top box that runs apps for most major streaming sites and plays movies, music and podcasts directly from iTunes. In addition, the Apple TV boasts a sophisticated search thanks to its Siri voice assistant and an admirable selection of both core and casual games.

Like many streaming devices, the Apple TV comes in both 1080p and 4K flavors. The 4K variant is quite expensive, so it’s worth considering how often you mirror content at full HD vs. quad HD or UHD resolutions.

How to choose the best Miracast or screen-mirroring device for you

The best Miracast or screen-mirroring device depends on the gadgets you already own. Simply put: If you plan to stream from a Windows PC, get the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. If you plan to stream from an Android device, get the Google Chromecast. If you plan to stream from a Mac OS or iOS device, get an Apple TV. Most screen-mirroring protocols are not cross-compatible, so if you don’t buy the appropriate receiver, you could find yourself staring down a $50 paperweight.

Just bear in mind that when it comes to Google and Apple devices, you have two choices apiece. A regular Google Chromecast or a regular Apple TV can support resolutions of up to 1080p. If you’re mirroring from a very powerful device, you might want a Google Chromecast Ultra or an Apple TV 4K. These streaming devices support resolutions up to 4K. Just bear in mind that you’ll need a pretty strong Internet connection to mirror high-res content reliably.

How we test Miracast and screen-mirroring devices

Testing the best Miracast and screen-mirroring devices is pretty straightforward. We hook up a receiver to a TV, then see how reliably it mirrors content. We test photos, music, videos, office documents and even video games — not necessarily because each one represents a realistic scenario, but to see just how reliable each device is when pushed up against its limits.

We test Miracast devices with Windows PCs and Android phones, Google Cast devices with Android phones and Chrome browsers, and AirPlay devices with Macbooks and iPhones. Each receiver has to prove its worth on both a home network and an office network, since screen mirroring has some productivity applications as well. In home testing cases, we’re particularly interested in how video mirroring stacks up to native apps on streaming devices.

Truthfully, though, testing Miracast and screen-mirroring devices is a pretty simple process, since the receivers don’t have many moving parts. If they work well, you’ll know within half an hour — and if they work poorly, you’ll know much quicker than that.

  • Oceanic16
    What are your options to stream/mirror your tv to your laptop or tablet?
    Reply
  • alexofindy
    You praise Chromecast for screen mirroring, but don't mention its major limitation: both the client and the receiver need to be connected to the same wifi network. This is usually easy enough at home, but can be difficult in an office, friend's home, or hotel. In these situations Miracast is the way to go for screen mirroring, since it uses wifi direct and doesn't require connecting to a wifi network. For example, most hotel rooms have TV's with free HDMI ports. With a Microsoft display adapter, or other device such as some Roku's and Amazon fire sticks which support Miracast, you plug the dongle in to the TV, and wirelessly connect your cell phone using Miracast. You can then cast anything on the cell phone's screen, as well as the audio, to the TV. Can't do this with chromecast.

    Most recent vintage Android cell phones, except for Googles's, support Miracast. It's on the settings menu, under display. Miracast is disabled on Google branded phones for mysterious reasons, but can be turned of if you're willing to root the phone.
    Reply
  • I don't understand where this statement is coming from:

    "Generally speaking, streaming works better than screen-mirroring, as it doesn't require an elaborate daisy chain of devices."

    In the context of this article, both require the same "elaborate" setup--which is a single dongle connected to the TV. And mirroring, in my experience, works better than streaming as it doesn't require an internet connection play media--you can play media files on your phone directly on the TV.
    Reply
  • menco1
    I have not yet found any screen casting "experts" explaining exactly how to cast Netflix from an Android phone to a TV using only Miracast and only mobile data. Netflix recently disabled my ability to do this, frustrating my cord-cutting ambitions. I tried Chromecast, Netgear PC2TV, the Microsoft device and something Chinese called EZcast. My phone does not support MHL so cables won't work either
    Reply
  • mikulssj
    Is there a mirroring device does not require internet connection to work??? Advertisers & manufactures do not make this requirement easily to understand prior to purchasing.
    Reply
  • mamasita
    I decided to use an app to stream files from my mac to tv. I've been choosing for a long time and finally stopped on ArkMS. So I got rid of different pointless and expensive adapters and HDMI cables, this app is easy to use, maintain, and configure. You can stream whatever you want - music, videos, photos, etc. Recommend. 5/5
    Reply
  • ben19701970
    Try AirMyPC software:
    With AirMyPC you can mirror Windows to your Apple TV or to ChromeCast.
    Reply
  • menco1
    NOT Netflix. Or Prime Video. And those are the Big Two.

    19009014 said:
    You praise Chromecast for screen mirroring, but don't mention its major limitation: both the client and the receiver need to be connected to the same wifi network. This is usually easy enough at home, but can be difficult in an office, friend's home, or hotel. In these situations Miracast is the way to go for screen mirroring, since it uses wifi direct and doesn't require connecting to a wifi network. For example, most hotel rooms have TV's with free HDMI ports. With a Microsoft display adapter, or other device such as some Roku's and Amazon fire sticks which support Miracast, you plug the dongle in to the TV, and wirelessly connect your cell phone using Miracast. You can then cast anything on the cell phone's screen, as well as the audio, to the TV. Can't do this with chromecast.

    Most recent vintage Android cell phones, except for Googles's, support Miracast. It's on the settings menu, under display. Miracast is disabled on Google branded phones for mysterious reasons, but can be turned of if you're willing to root the phone.

    Reply
  • menco1
    If you want to cast Netflix or Prime via Miracast you're totally out of luck. They and your carrier are deliberately thwarting your dreams. And most carrier phones have disabled MHK, just in case you thought you might use a cable. Screen mirroring is a myth for streaming video from the Big Two (Amazon/Netflix).
    Reply
  • allmye
    Not exactly menco1 .
    With AirMyPC software you can mirror Netflix or Prime to Apple TV or ChromeCast from Windows computer.
    Both Computer and AppleTV/ChromeCast should be in the same home network.
    Reply