Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones First Impressions

Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones First Impressions

The HD-10 arrives

OK, it doesn't have the greatest name in the world. But the Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones HD-10 provides what appears to be the simplest-ever connectivity between your NFC-enabled Nokia Lumia handset and an external display, allowing you to mirror the device's screen and enjoy movies, TV shows, games, and other content on the big screen.

For all the naming hilarity, the HD-10 is really just a Miracast receiver. It integrates with the Project My Screen settings app in modern Lumias and other Windows Phone handsets, so you'll want to make sure you have that functionality before even considering this accessory. And at a very high level, of course, this screen mirroring functionality is Windows Phone's (and Windows's) partial answer to AirPlay on iOS devices and Chromecast on Android/iOS.

Confusing matters, of course, Microsoft will also soon release a second Miracast receiver, the equally poorly-named Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. See my first impressions and preview articles about that device for more information, and of course my Microsoft Screen Sharing For Lumia Phones HD-10 Preview too. Long story short: The HD-10 is of course optimized for modern Lumias and is generally aimed at smart phones. (Miracast works on Android as well, by the way.) But the Wireless Display Adapter is a more general-purpose work/home dongle that is aimed more at PCs (but works fine with smart phones too.)

So what do we have here?

As you might expect, the HD-10 is simplicity itself. It includes the hockey puck-sized device itself, which has HDMI and USB ports on the back, and a power light on the front. The HD-10 comes with a USB charger—the review unit is global, so it has a European-style power plug—but it will work with any smart phone-based USB charger. It does not, however, come with an HDMI cable, so you'll need to splurge on that yourself.

The big differentiator with this device—compared to, say, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, the Roku 3 or Roku Streaming Stick, or any other Miracast receiver, is that it includes an NFC disc that you can remove from the device and place elsewhere in the room. In other words, you can place your HD-10 near or behind the HDTV, and then place the disc out in the room so it's more easily accessible.

In case you're not clear on how this works—even Microsoft gets it wrong by incorrectly noting that you "use NFC to mirror your Lumia on an HDMI enabled display"—NFC is really just a convenience. It's a way to more easily make a connection between your handset and some other device. You can use it to more easily make connections over Bluetooth, for example, as I do with my Nokia Portable Wireless Speaker MD-12. Or in this case, you can use it to more easily make the Miracast connection that wirelessly mirrors your display.

You don't have to use NFC, so the HD-10 (like other Miracast receivers) will work just fine if your phone does not support this (or if you lose the disk or whatever): Just visit Project My Display in Settings on Windows Phone and make the connection manually. It's really not that hard.

That said, using the disc is seamless. When you place an NFC-enabled device like the Nokia Lumia 830 on the disc, you're prompted to make the connection. Just tap Accept and you're off the races. You'll be connected to the display in seconds.

As with the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, I'll need to test the reliability of the HD-10 over time to determine whether Microsoft has finally solved the problems I've had with other Miracast devices. And I'd like to see the company offer HD video through Xbox Video on Windows Phone, since my purchased movies all come out in less-than-stunning SD because of an artificial limitation of the software on that platform. But the ease with which I was able to get this up and running is a good sign, I think.

I'll also test this with Surface Pro 3 and Android devices, of course.

More soon.

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