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In the last couple of years, the Google Chromecast (read our review Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway We're giving away a Google Chromecast, so read through our review, then join the competition to win! Read More ) has become a must-have TV accessory. It doesn’t matter whether you already have a smart TV or not because Chromecast is awesome. But what you probably didn’t know is your smart TV has a Chromecast alternative built in it. Meet Miracast.

Miracast isn’t anything new. In fact, it has been around for longer than Chromecast has. The two technologies are similar, but not the same. Miracast is like a wireless HDMI connection, mirroring everything from one screen to another. It works both ways too, not just as a “receiver” like the Chromecast.

What’s Miracast All About?

Unlike Chromecast, which is a device, Miracast is a part of the Wi-Fi features on new gadgets. The Wi-Fi Alliance, a worldwide consortium of companies, agreed upon Miracast as a standard protocol. This protocol means that any Miracast device will work with any other Miracast-supporting gadget.

Miracast uses Wi-Fi Direct, a Wi-Fi technology you already have but don’t know Three Wireless Display Technologies That You Probably Own But Don’t Use Three Wireless Display Technologies That You Probably Own But Don’t Use Want to relay your smartphone's or laptop's display onto a larger screen without wires? No, it's not science fiction. You can wirelessly output video from computers and smartphones today. Wireless display technologies use WiFi to... Read More . Wi-Fi Direct lets two devices connect to each other wirelessly, without a Wi-Fi router, causing data to flow faster.

When you think of a presentation with a laptop and a TV, your mind immediately connects the two with an HDMI cable. But Miracast is going beyond that Stop Using HDMI: Miracast Is the Wireless Alternative You'll Love Stop Using HDMI: Miracast Is the Wireless Alternative You'll Love The next time you need to stream media between devices, remember the flaws of HDMI and consider using wireless Miracast instead. It's the technology we all need and deserve. Read More . It is discarding the cable and wirelessly connecting the two screens.

Screen mirroring is all that Miracast does. If you are playing a video on your phone and want to show it to others on your TV, then you can mirror your screen with Miracast. The video will be playing on the phone’s screen and the TV’s screen at the same time.

Does Your Phone or TV Support Miracast?

The first question you probably want to ask yourself is whether your devices support Miracast. There is an easy way to find out.

Chances are, if you bought a gadget after 2014, it will support Miracast. This includes most TVs, who disguise their Miracast feature under names like “SmartShare”, “AllShare”, and so on.

miracast wifi product finder

But don’t go by the post-2014 generalization alone. Each Wi-Fi device goes through the Wi-Fi Alliance’s tests for different standards and protocols. So if you want to find out about your device, check their site.

The Advanced Product Finder has a Miracast option among the filters on the left. Check that, and then use the category or the search box to locate your gadget.

Miracast vs. Chromecast: Is Miracast Better?

Far too often, we compare two similar technologies as competitors. But Miracast and Chromecast aren’t exactly competitors. It’s not that one is better than the other — it’s about what functions you actually need.

For example, in an office environment, Miracast might be a better solution since it works natively with Windows computers. In Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, Microsoft has included a simple guide to connect to wireless displays. You won’t need any HDMI cable or a Chromecast dongle for this.

The built-in nature of Miracast also makes it easy to turn any device into a “receiver”. For example, you can cast your Android screen to your Windows PC How to Cast Your Android Screen to Windows 10 With Miracast and Connect How to Cast Your Android Screen to Windows 10 With Miracast and Connect In Windows 10 version 1607, you can wirelessly cast your Android screen to your desktop using the Connect app. We show you how to set up this magical screen mirror. Read More . With Chromecast, only the dongle-plugged TV is the receiver.

But perhaps most importantly, Miracast works completely offline, which Chromecast can’t do. And that is a big win for the Miracast.

Miracast Works Completely Offline

As explained earlier, Miracast creates a closed Wi-Fi connection between the devices. Since it’s closed, it does not require an active internet connection. And that is its biggest strength.

The most frustrating part of my time using Chromecast has been internet stoppages. From weather conditions to undersea cables, our internet connections are not yet fully reliable.

And if you don’t have internet, your Chromecast won’t work. It’s baffling why Chromecast requires an active internet connection even if showing photos from your own hard drive 8 Creative Uses for Google's Chromecast 8 Creative Uses for Google's Chromecast We've come up with 8 unique uses for Google's Chromecast. Read on to find out just how you can make even more use of your Chromecast. Read More or mirroring your screen.

On the other hand, Miracast works splendidly without internet. Play a movie saved on your hard drive, cast the screen to the TV, and you will be able to watch it on a big screen, even as the storm rages outside.

Miracast Isn’t a Media Player

As good as the Miracast is, you can’t use it regularly as your “smart TV media companion.” The simple reason for this is that it only does screen mirroring. Your phone or tablet will be unusable while you cast the video running on its screen to your TV.

This also leads to a huge battery drain on the gadgets. You will probably plug your phone’s charger while you stream, and that reduces your battery’s longevity.

But the Chromecast is a media player first How to Cast Local Media From Your Mac To Chromecast How to Cast Local Media From Your Mac To Chromecast You can cast any movie, music, or photo from your Mac's hard drive to the big screen. It's just a matter of knowing which apps and tools can do it. Read More , and a screen mirroring device second. If you want a way to use Netflix or Plex on your phone to stream videos on your TV, the Chromecast is a better option.

Miracast Doesn’t Work With Apple Devices

Oh, and one more thing. Apple decided not to go with the Wi-Fi Alliance’s recommended protocol. Instead, it uses the proprietary AirPlay standard, which more or less does the same thing.

miracast apple airplay

So if you use an iPhone, iPad, or a Mac, you can’t mirror your screen to your smart TV through Miracast. It’s actually something a Chromecast can help you with. Or you can use a modified Miracast dongle like the AnyCast, which comes with AirPlay support.

Which Miracast Should You Get?

If your TV doesn’t already have Miracast, you can buy a Miracast dongle like the Chromecast. It costs significantly less, and will work offline.

My personal recommendation would be the AnyCast M2 ($19/£10), which works with Apple’s AirPlay standard so you can also mirror your iPhone or iPad screens.

If you can spend a little more, you might want to try Microsoft’s Wireless Display Adapter ($50/£40), which has proven to be quite popular for Windows desktop users.

Have You Used Miracast Yet?

We want to hear about your experiences with Miracast, and if you can compare it to Chromecast. Which of the two technologies did you like more?

Image Credit: cunaplus via Shutterstock.com

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  1. AA
    September 8, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Works pretty well with my Roku 3 as a receiver (article failed to mention this) hooked up via HDMI to my TV. I have an LG V10 which does support Miracast.

  2. silverlokk
    April 19, 2017 at 7:01 am

    I have an EasyCast dongle which seems to be Miracast-compatible. Works with my old ASUS Fonepad 7 (which I still have, albeit SIM-less), my current Lenovo Phab Plus, and a tablet that came with our DSL subscription. The last, though, warns that it needs to disconnect from the network — and therefore the Internet. The other two don't, although since I connect to our router's 5GHz network from the Phab, I get a warning that the dongle and the phone are connected to different networks and so performance may be degraded. Indeed, videos lag now and then.

    One neat thing though — Google Slides displayed the slides on the LCD monitor, and the slide controller on my phone. Or, I could display in addition the slides' notes so I could read them from my phone. That means that I could bring the dongle to, e.g., a client's site, and just my phone — I can leave my laptop at home. Dongle's so cheap I could buy another one if I didn't want to unplug the one I already have

  3. Thomas
    April 4, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Maybe it's the abysmal avastar WiFi in every Microsoft surface product but my track record of Miracast actually working is at best 50%. Wont connect, disconnects, freezes, corrupt video, lag.

  4. Kevin
    April 3, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    It's great if you like watching choppy movies. Pretty much sits unused in my settings because it just isn't fast enough

  5. True Cord Cutter
    April 3, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    I used to love Miracast on my S4 since I have no data connection at home. I could just bring up Netflix on the phone and Miracast to the TV putting the phone down.
    Now I own a pure Android experience 5x that by default has Miracast turned off without hacking it. Chromecast sucks because you need a network connection to actually stream to a TV. The TV/Chromecast dongle have to have a network connection and the phone is nothing more than a remote control. Useless!