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Understand Wireless Display Standards: AirPlay, DLNA, Miracast & WiDi
HDMI allows you to connect almost all devices to a TV, projector or any external display. However, HDMI still requires a wired connection. You might think there would be a well-supported standard for wireless displays, but we aren’t in luck. As design decisions remain in the hands of the manufacturer, users have very little say, especially when it comes to following standards.
When it comes to mirroring a device’s screen wirelessly or using it as a remote-control for media displayed on another screen, there is still a wide variety of competing standards fighting it out in the market. Let’s look at the four most popular wireless display standards AirPlay, DLNA, Miracast and WiDi
AirPlay is Apple’s wireless display standard. It allows you to stream video from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to an Apple TV. Using AirPlay, you can display the contents of your Mac’s desktop, start a video in an app on your iPhone and “push” it to your TV, or play a game on your iPad and mirror your display on your TV. Apple’s AirPlay standard is flexible enough to work in two different ways. It can use display mirroring to mirror the contents of a device’s display, or use a streaming mode that’s smarter.
Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) was founded by a group of consumer electronics companies in June 2003 to develop and promote a set of interoperability guidelines for sharing digital media among multimedia devices and certification of a standard. DLNA uses a different form Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) to share and play media wirelessly. You can use DLNA to stream media from a Windows PC to an Xbox One. It relies heavily on media content stored on your local drive. It has very little support modern streaming service.
Miracast is an industry-wide standard that’s essentially a response to Apple’s AirPlay. It can roughly be described as "HDMI over Wi-Fi", replacing the cable from the device to the display. It leverages Wi-Fi Direct technology to view content. Miracast support is build into Android 4.2+ and Windows 8.1, allowing Android smartphones, Windows tablets and laptops, and other devices to wirelessly stream to Miracast-compliant receivers. Manufacturers call their implementation of Miracast other things. Below is a list of terms for Miracast of popular brands.
- LG : SmartShare
- Samsung : AllShare Cast
- Sony : Screen Mirroring
- Panasonic : Display Mirroring
Note: We have intentionally left out Google’s Chromecast and Intel’s WiDi as they work heavily on Miracast standards.
In this day and age many AV receivers and smart TV solutions offer either one or all of the connectivity options. It brings us happiness to say that it’s a great time for consumers to venture out into the convenient world of wireless media viewing.