More and more companies are making Chromecast-like HDMI-streaming dongles, and the latest player to enter the fray is a big one. Microsoft today (Sept. 23) announced its Wireless Display Adapter for Miracast screen streaming. You can already pre-order Microsoft's Wireless Display Adapter for $60 now in the U.S. and Canada, and the dongle will be available in stores in October.
While it is somewhat reminiscent of Google's streaming stick, the Wireless Display Adapter is different in both form and function. Physically, it's a two-headed cable with a 3.46-inch dongle on one end with a HDMI jack, and a USB out on the other. Both these heads go into your TV, monitor or projector to turn the display into a receiver for mobile devices.
Unlike the $35 Chromecast, which has a separate USB cable for a power connection, the Microsoft stick's USB jack is attached. And it does a lot more, too. Since Microsoft's product uses Miracast technology, you'll also be able to stream or extend the screens of compatible devices.
On Windows devices, you'll just have to add a wireless display from the Devices menu, and then choose if you want to cast, duplicate or extend your screen. This means you can cast just about anything -- PowerPoint presentations, websites, games and movies -- to your big screen.
Right now, Chromecast has a beta app that lets you stream your Android's display to your TV, but the tool isn't fully ready yet. You're limited to streaming from apps such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Chrome on Chromecast, although the library of compatible titles is growing.
Microsoft also says the Wireless Display Adapter offers a "reliable connection" up to a 23-foot distance. The adapter is compatible with Miracast-enabled Windows 8.1 devices, and smartphones or tablets running Android 4.2.1 and later.
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