Microsoft has announced a new Miracast dongle, and if this sounds like old news, that’s because they just announced a very similar device only a few weeks ago. We were pretty upset about what the previous device turned out to be, as we discussed on Entertainment 2.0. The Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones HD-10 (yes, that’s really what it’s called, but we’ll just call it the HD-10), wasn’t the right form-factor or price. It was also being marketed as a fairly limited device. With the new device, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, they seem to be hitting most of the right targets.
The Microsoft Wireless Display adapter is a simple Miracast dongle. It doesn’t add any extra features. It’s built as a small stick that plugs straight into your television’s HDMI port. It has a USB cable that runs out of the end of the stick into your TV’s USB port for power. If your TV doesn’t have a USB port you can use a simple adapter to power it.
The premise is simple. Plug the Wireless Display Adapter into your TV, and any Miracast compatible device can wirelessly stream to it. If the device is a Windows PC or tablet the TV will be treated as a secondary monitor. This means you can duplicate the display to the TV, extend your desktop to it, or only project the display onto the TV. It isn’t limited to only Windows devices though. You can stream a compatible Windows Phone or Android device to it also as Miracast is an open industry standard.
Microsoft got the form-factor and functionality right, but what about the price? When it launches, sometime in October, it will set you back $59.95. That’s almost twice the price of Google’s Chromecast. It seems obvious to compare the Wireless Display Adapter to the Chromecast, but in some ways Microsoft’s device does offer a more robust feature set than Google’s.
Perhaps what’s most frustrating isn’t this device at all. Rather, the problem is that in less than one month Microsoft has launched two products that do the exact same thing. It wouldn’t be that difficult to imagine that the two groups behind these competing devices might not have even known that the other team was working on a similar product. For a company that has focused so much around the idea of “One Microsoft” this situation is a pretty big misstep. Our guess is that the HD-10 was made by the former Nokia team, and that Microsoft’s core hardware team was behind the new Wireless Display Adapter.
Despite our issues with Microsoft’s overall strategy in releasing nearly identical products in less than a month, and even in spite of the price being higher than we’d like, we’ll probably be picking up a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter when it launches. Miracast has too many great uses not to have a (hopefully) high quality Miracast dongle in the gear bag. Look for a review once we’ve got one. Until then, head over to the Microsoft Store if you’d like to pre-order now.