Are you one of those people (like me) who love to hook your phone or tablet up to the big screen TV/monitor in the home or office? Do you need to do presentations for work? Want to watch that video you have on your handheld without a HDMI cable?
Well how about doing it wirelessly with a WiDi/Miracast device?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve pulled out a lengthy HDMI cable at home or the office to connect my phone or laptop to a large screen. I have a 20′ micro HDMI cable for my Z10 or Z30, and a regular cable for the laptop. Well… no more.
Enter the Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro WiDi/Miracast module. This little bundle of joy gets rid of those cables so you can enjoy your pictures, movies, presentations, music, documents with ease!
Basically what you are doing is sharing your screen without wires, a wireless HDMI connection (including audio) as it were. But first, what are WiDi and Miracast?
WiDi (wireless display) is an Intel initiative.
WiDi allows you to share laptop content wirelessly on your big screen HDTV. You can share your photos, videos, and music, or enjoy a Blu-ray disc or DVD wirelessly. The technology was first introduced at CES 2010 and offered the ability to play 720p resolution video with stereo audio and 2.4 GHz connectivity via WiFi. Recently the second generation was introduced with the ability to wirelessly display full 1080p HD resolution off of your laptop, along with 5.1 surround sound, up to 5GHz WiFi connectivity, and support for DVD and Blu-ray compatibility.
And Miracast (a WiFi Alliance standard)
Miracast is a peer-to-peer wireless screencasting standard formed via Wi-Fi Direct connections in a manner similar to Bluetooth. It enables wireless delivery of audio and video to or from desktops, tablets, mobile phones, and other devices. It allows users to, for example, echo display from a phone or tablet onto a TV, share a laptop screen with the conference room projector in real-time, and watch live programs from a home cable box on a tablet. Both the sending and receiving devices must support Miracast for the technology to work. However, to stream music and movies to a device, such as a TV, that does not support Miracast, adapters are available that plug into HDMI or USB ports.
Never mind all that, what’s in the box?
What you get is a small device (the receiver module) approx. 3 inches square and a half inch thick. Along with that, you get a 2 prong power adaptor, and a 3′ standard HDMI cable that feels quite well built.
There are three connectors on the back of the unit, USB, HDMI, and power. A recessed reset button is there as well, but as of yet I have not needed that. The USB port seems to be used solely for updating the firmware, which was up to date out of the box.
After plugging the ScreenBeam Pro into a spare HDMI port on my TV and powering up, you are presented with a welcome screen after a short wait.
Go to the settings/Display on your handset and at the bottom you will see “Share Screen”, after choosing that you’ll see that you have successfully connected to the device.
Easy as pie! Now you’re ready to enjoy the big screen!
As you can see, the Passport 1X1 ratio does not fill the entire screen. This however is not much of an issue. The Passport home screen takes up roughly half of the display, leaving the rest on either side.
Your media however can/will fill a 16X9 display properly. As an example, by looking at a picture you will still only see a 1X1 representation on the display. However, if you go to the 3 dot menu and select “Play on”, you are instantly rewarded with a full display (provided the picture was taken in 16X9 format).
Streaming a video is just as easy. For any media, you don’t even need to do the screen share first. You only need to choose the media (a video in this example) and in the menu choose “Play on” again. This will start a search for the ScreenBeam Pro and let you connect and share right away.
For Powerpoint presentations, the screen is filled as well, with an added bonus of being able to hold your finger on the screen so that a virtual laser pointer (red dot) shows on screen for your slides. Very well done BlackBerry!
The Passport connects with the ScreenBeam in just a few seconds, and plays a video very well with very minor glitches (rare) in visuals and sound. The Z30 takes slightly longer to connect and took about 30 seconds of play to smooth the video out. That may not be too fair as I am running a leak on the Z30 currently.
Overall, I am very pleased with the purchase and I will be able to put it to good use indeed. I will be buying another one for the office as well. There is a ScreenBeam Pro “Kit” available that has a USB dongle included for those that have a laptop incapable of WiDi. That reminds me, I’ve been sharing my laptop screen to the TV all day and am currently editing this blog post using it. Very nice indeed!
Note: WiDi/Miracast is not available on the Z10 or Z3.
The Q5, Q10, Z30, and Passport however are ready to go.
Well, if you’ve made it this far, it behooves me to remind you that if you haven’t entered our “Win a Passport” contest, DO IT NOW! Clicky here!
Dave is watching a movie now.