Just in time for the 2014 holiday season, Microsoft released its rumored wireless display device, capable of providing "screencasting" for compatible devices. Called the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (a horrible name), the device plugs into an HDMI port and a USB port on a TV and creates a wireless display network for mirroring your tablet, smartphone, or other compatible device's display on the big screen. And, since it's fully HDMI compliant, it also delivers rich sound over the same network.
It's a pretty simple device, and in most cases is just plug and play. The device is powered by the USB connection. If you don't have a USB port on your TV, you can still power it using a standard power adapter with a USB connection.
But, as with most releases like this, it was initially a U.S.-based only release. On Thursday, Microsoft announced that the device is now available for purchase in more markets, including most European countries and South Africa, with more countries being added in March.
The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (again, horrible name) is available for around $60 from the Microsoft store. I'm half tempted to pick one up, but I've been happy with my NetGear Push2TV Wireless Display HDMI Adapter (possibly an even more horrible name). When I travel, I take the NetGear with me, allowing me to keep up on my regular TV and movie viewing through Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and Crackle in the hotel room. And, as a certified cord cutter family, the NetGear is invaluable at home. The NetGear is around $45 and it's smaller than the Microsoft device, about the size of a pack of playing cards. But the NetGear isn't a contained unit, meaning you also have to carry two separate cables (USB and HDMI) to make the connection. And, that's where the Microsoft device shines, allowing you to eliminate cord clutter.
I'll be pulling together a comparison review for a number of similar devices soon.