Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter First Impressions

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter First Impressions

Plug and play, or plug and pray?

Microsoft's new Miracast-based Wireless Display Adapter is available now for preorder and should be shipping in very late October. Here's a first hands-on peek at the adapter, which is aimed at PC and tablet users that wish to project their screen to an HDTV at home or a projector at work.

From a packaging perspective, the Wireless Display Adapter box looks exactly like a Surface accessory. The packaging is low-key but not cheap.

What is cheap, however, is that the Wireless Display Adapter doesn't come with a USB-to-power adapter. If your display doesn't have a USB port you'll need a USB-based power plug (like the one that comes with your smart phone, probably) or even a USB cable extension. That USB cable bit doesn't unplug, so you're kind of stuck with it as-is.

Microsoft does, however, provide an HDMI extension cable because many displays have recessed HDMI ports, and the Wireless Display Adapter wouldn't otherwise fit.

The device itself is no-frills and very much like a Chromecast. There's no switch or power button, or whatever. Just plug the HDMI end into an HDMI port on your display and the USB end into a USB port to power it. (There is a small light to indicate it's powered up, however.)

So far I've quickly tested the Wireless Display Adapter with both my Nokia Lumia 1520 Windows Phone handset and my Surface Pro 3 tablet. Both devices connected to the adapter instantly and without any complaints. By default, each will mirror the screen, which doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense on a Windows Phone—many apps and the Start screen only work in portrait mode. But you can of course change how the wireless display works if you're using Windows 8.1 (as on the Surface Pro 3).

Machinariumfor Windows Phone on the big screen

The Wireless Display Adapter explicitly works with Android handsets and tablets too. I've not yet tested that but I will.

And that's about it. You just plug it in and go.

Both Windows Phone (shown) and Windows connected to the Wireless Display Adapter immediately

Of course, this being a Miracast device, I'll need to use it over time and see how (or if) the reliability holds up, something that's always been an issue with Miracast. Microsoft tells me I could be pleasantly surprised. So far so good.

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