Best Miracast and Screen-Mirroring Devices 2017

Whether you want to share photos with your family or kick up your feet and binge-watch some Netflix, there are many reasons to send content from your computer or mobile device to your TV. If you don't want to string cables, you can select from a variety of products and technologies that wirelessly transmit the content from your device screen to your TV screen via a small wireless receiver box or dongle.

Screen Mirroring vs. Streaming

Most streaming devices offer some form of screen mirroring, but they're not exactly the same thing. Streaming is when a device independently transmits information to your TV directly from an online source, such as Netflix or Pandora. (This is true even of the Chromecast, which uses your phone as a controller.) Screen mirroring, on the other hand, uses your phone as a middleman. This process, as the name suggests, simply takes whatever is on your phone's screen and displays it elsewhere; no more, no less.

In other words, if you connect a Roku box to your TV and watch Netflix, Netflix is transmitting information directly to that box. If you boot up Netflix on your phone or tablet, then mirror it to your TV with a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, your mobile device is doing all the legwork; the Display Adapter is just a receiver.

Generally speaking, streaming works better than screen-mirroring, as it doesn't require an elaborate daisy chain of devices. However, streaming also has its limitations; you have access to a limited variety of apps, whereas with screen mirroring, you can see anything from your mobile device or computer right on your TV.

Finally, most streaming devices have a screen-mirroring option built in; they just vary wildly in quality. The Chromecast and Apple TV (both described below) are good at both streaming and screen-mirroring. For other devices, it's best to check the manufacturer's web page, and both professional and user reviews to see how well the screen-mirroring functionality works.

Does Screen Mirroring Really Work?

Yes and no. Yes, you can mirror content from your mobile device or computer to your TV — if you have a powerful transmitter, an excellent receiver and a flawless Wi-Fi network. Otherwise, you're just asking for a laggy, unreliable experience.

In my own tests, I've found that using a dedicated streaming device and a media server (via apps like Kodi, Plex and PlayOn) is a much simpler, more reliable experience than trying to grapple with Miracast or the admittedly superior Google Cast or AirPlay protocols. While screen mirroring has its place for productivity, it's just not the simplest or most straightforward way to consume most media.

Read on to find the right receiver for the gadgets you own.



MORE: How to Screen Cast to Chromecast

MORE: How to Use Miracast and WiDi



MORE: How to Stream Video to a TV from a Mobile Device or Computer

The HDMI cable fallback option

If none of these products fits your particular devices or your budget, you can go the old-fashioned way and attach your mobile device or computer using a cable or cables. This may be the best option for gamers, as there is less input lag with a direct connection than over wireless. For instructions, see How to Connect a Phone, Tablet, Mac or PC to Your TV.

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6 comments
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  • Oceanic16
    What are your options to stream/mirror your tv to your laptop or tablet?
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  • 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.
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  • Anonymous
    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.
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  • 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
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  • 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.
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  • 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
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