Hands On: Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

If you own a Windows Phone, Surface or Windows 8.1 machine that supports Miracast, Microsoft has a new peripheral that allows you to project your screen to another display. The product is being pitched as an easy way to share your screen with another device wirelessly, and it costs $60.

The device is quite simple. It comes in a small gray box and has an HDMI connection on one end and a USB port on the other side. The USB is needed to power the peripheral, which means when connecting it to a HDTV, you will need to make sure the TV has a spare USB port. 

The device is made of plastic, and there is a small button on the back of the device as well as a light to let you know when it's on. The instructions make no mention of what the little button does, however, and I'm not exactly sure what its purpose is, but it's there if you feel like pushing it. It may reset the device, but without proper instructions, your guess is as good as mine and with my device working properly, I don't want to test that hypothesis. 

As mentioned before, the peripheral uses Miracast, which means that any device that supports this feature will work with the adapter.

The product comes in a small box that includes the dongle as well as a small HDMI extension cable to use on a TV where you cant fit the peripheral because of its extra width.

In real-world usage, the peripheral works well for its intended purposes, but Microsoft's claims of it working with connected devices up to 20 feet are a bit of a fringe case. In my testing, 10 feet was a good distance from the screen and I saw no issues. The further away from the dongle, however, the more laggy the streaming. It wasn't to the point of being a huge issue, especially when considering that this device will likely be used to share mostly static content (such as images or PowerPoint presentations) and not for streaming movies, but it is worth noting that lag does come into play beyond that 10-foot range.

The device also supports streaming from Android devices, but you will need version 4.2.1 or newer of the OS to use the dongle.

Setting up the dongle was quite easy. Make sure you follow the directions and it will take you only a minute or two to be up and running. The $60 price tag does feel a bit high for what you get, and the name of the dongle is about exciting as a bowl of white rice. It's worth pointing out that Roku released an update for its products that allows them stream content using Miracast too, which means that there are cheaper options than Microsoft's dongle to achieve the same result.

If you are looking for a no-frills way to stream content reliably to a larger screen, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter gets the job done.

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