Just ordered Miracast + AirPlay dongle
UPDATED WITH REVIEW:
In-depth review below, will update in a few days to cover DLNA support and revisit Miracast experience while at home (currently discussing the experience at a university)
The PTV Miracast adapter works as advertised, but isn’t perfect. Miracast functionality works like a charm, but with the same slight delay in most other adapters out there. AirPlay is listed as a feature, but don’t expect it to work. Upon opening the package, I was greeted with a matte black, rubbery dongle that was slightly larger than a USB thumb-drive. Under the cap is the HDMI plug, on the other end are two micro USB ports -- one for power and one to connect a storage drive. On one side of the USB end is a tiny button that doesn’t clearly indicate it’s purpose, but is meant to switch between Miracast connectivity and AirFun mode (see below).
Using this adapter isn’t as intuitive as I would like it to be, but it does work. When you initially plug the device into the HDMI port of the TV and USB power, you’re greeted with the AirFun screen, which is green and black. This screen displays the dongle’s IP address, a url containing the IP address and ending with “/remote,” and what network it’s connecting to. When no network is available, it turns itself into it’s own wireless network to allow you to connect. Visiting http://ipaddress/remote
takes you to a web-based remote for the dongle to set it up and control the DLNA features of the device. When connecting to this address from an Android device, it prompts you to download the app for this same control. The app is called AirFun and CORRECTION:
is in the Play Store - https://play.google.com/store/apps/d....airfun.client
. The app appears to be stored on the dongle itself also. Don't worry much about this app after you've adjusted the settings to your liking. Use another DLNA app for your media, MirrorOP if you wish to take advantage of that, and wait on AirPlay.
Connecting the dongle to wifi is easy, but the first step isn’t apparent. You must first connect your phone or tablet to the wifi hotspot the dongle creates. At this time, you will not have an internet connection and will only be able to connect to the Miracast dongle. The next step is to go to the url containing the ip address that is displayed on your TV or use the app to connect to the device. In the settings, you can choose the wireless network you want to use and enter the password. Once this is completed, the Miracast adapter will disconnect it’s own hotspot, disconnect your phone or tablet from the device, and connect to the wireless network you chose. At this point, you should connect to the same wireless network in order to pair with the device again.
I must share a mistake I had made in hopes of those reading this can learn from it. Do not, under any circumstances, connect to an open wireless network in which you need to visit a web browser to sign in or click and accept button. The Miracast adapter can’t choose to accept a license or enter login information. I did this at the university I work for and found that I could no longer access the dongle for anything relying on wifi, including accessing the settings. I had attempted to disconnect and reconnect, reset, unplug and plug in again the device. As I had already set it to connect to the wifi that requires authentication in a browser, it automatically connected to it every time. I was forced to bring this in a location in which that wireless network was unaccessible so that I could connect directly to the device’s own hotspot and connect it to another network.
Once the wireless connection has been connected to both the PTV dongle and your phone or tablet, you can begin using MirrorOP, DLNA, or AirPlay. Please note that Miracast is connected using different steps which I will discuss later. No wireless connection is needed for Miracast and if this is the sole purpose of using this device, you can ignore the steps above and continue to the section specifically about Miracast. After connecting to wifi, I tested MirrorOP and found that connecting to this worked without issue. The screen mirrored as any other MirrorOP connection does. MirrorOP is an AirPlay-like connection except that it requires a rooted Android device or jailbroken iOS device to connect. It mirrors the screen like AirPlay to a device on the same wireless network. The MirrorOP app needs to be installed on your device to make the connection. Though screen mirroring works, MirrorOP does not support audio mirroring -- the audio will continue to play through your phone or tablet.
Connecting to AirPlay was very disappointing. I attempted to connect to AirPlay both at the university I work at and at home using an iPad on iOS7. In each attempt to connect, the iPad recognized the Miracast dongle as an AirPlay device. When selecting to connect to it, it appeared to work initially. Choosing a photo to display on the AirPlay device, however, proved nothing worked. The photo would not project to the TV. The same applied for video as well, but I have not yet tested audio. When enabling screen mirroring in the AirPlay settings, I was also disappointed by the results. The notification bar turned blue, the device appeared to be trying to connect for mirroring, then the AirPlay settings reset, turning off the connection to the dongle. No matter how many times I tried, it wouldn’t work. It may be my lack of knowledge with iOS and how to properly connect the devices, it could be an incompatibility with iOS7, or it could just be a falsely advertised feature. I don’t know the answer to this. EDITED: If I am correct in that Visiontech makes this device, their website (in a couple of posts below) indicates AirPlay is a feature still in development and will be added in a future update.
DLNA works as expected. I did have some buffering/stuttering, but that was likely due to my new ISP which is a reduction in speed. Any DLNA/UPNP app or device will recognize this dongle and send content to it. Since DLNA plays the content locally, I haven't narrowed down which files are supported. I have not had any issue with mp4, which should be expected. In order to use DLNA, this dongle needs to be in AirFun mode, but you don't need to use the AirFun app to use it. This app just gives basic functionality and allows you to setup the dongle.
The most important feature in which I purchased this for is the Miracast functionality. I tested this in two different environments and found two different user experiences. I tested this at the university I work for and at home (which I am still testing more at home and will update this with more information later). Before you can connect to Miracast, you must press the button on the side of the dongle twice to switch to the wireless HDMI mode. At the university, the experience was such that I don’t feel it would be beneficial for the classroom. Connecting took several attempts before it was successful. Upon a successful connection, most of the time my device’s wireless connection was disconnected and reverted to cellular data. The screen mirroring worked as it should, however with a fraction of a second in latency. Audio transmitted to the TV flawlessly as well. At times, especially during heavy activity, the TV would fall further behind than initial connection and the picture would display large groups of poorly rendered blocks. This was further exaggerated when I reconnected to wifi for some reason. It may be due to the large number of wireless devices on a college campus causing interference that caused these issues, but I don’t know enough about networking to make an educated guess to this. I did notice turning the HTC One’s Power Saver mode off improved the experience, but only slightly.
At home, I get mixed results. Most of the time, it works flawlessly via Miracast. There are times that the picture lags behind and when it starts to, it can be tens of seconds behind. It eventually catches up, especially if you stop your activity to allow it to catch up. With that said, I streamed a few movies from Plex to my HTC One which was Miracasting to the PTV dongle. I did not see any moments in any attempt in which the mirroring had fallen out of sync with my phone. I did, however, find a few movies that would not play sound over Miracast. I am not sure if this is due to bandwidth, licensing/authentication/DRM, or something else entirely. I need to investigate the files more in depth to determine if it's the stream. I tried to play a game with this, but I honestly found myself looking at my phone more than the TV to see where I was touching on screen. I didn't notice any delay here either, but I wasn't playing a complex game either. I ought to try this using a game controller and see how it performs this way. I also discovered that Google Play Music and Google Play Movies & TV are blocked over Miracast. They will not play, even locally stored music tracks. Play Movies tells me this feature is not supported, while Play Music will either display "Cannot play track" or disconnect the Miracast connection completely. Upon contacting Google with regard to this, they responded indicating that this is normal behavior and suggested I buy a Chromecast. I shouldn't have to buy another product to use Google services that already work on my device.
Being a Sprint customer and experiencing network issues regularly on their cellular data, I have installed an app that floats network download and upload speeds on my screen so that I can determine if anything isn’t working due to my internet connection. I noticed that while connected through Miracast, my upload speeds were incredibly high. This is what I would expect from a Miracast connection considering 1080p video encoded as h.264 mp4 video and up to 5.1 surround sound audio is being sent from my phone to the dongle over wifi direct. For anyone curious about the network activity, my upload speeds floated between 7-9 Mbps while connected to Miracast. Download speeds remained normal for the activity I was performing.
I also wanted to note that the PTV Miracast adapter gets about as hot as the HTC One can during high activity. It can be uncomfortable to touch. The included manual warns about this and promises that it will not affect performance. I am still concerned of the heat, despite the manual’s acknowledgement of this issue. Hopefully the heat doesn’t affect this device’s lifespan. I hope that this in-depth review has been helpful to all those who have read it. I would recommend this product to others, but I would warn others of the shortcomings this dongle has as well. The $50 I paid for this was a fair price considering the average price for Miracast today. Others at the same or higher price don’t offer MirrorOP or AirPlay -- I’m hoping a firmware update down the road fixes the AirPlay problems.
MirrorOP - Nexus 7 (2012) on Android 4.3
AirPlay - iPad 2 (two different iPads) running iOS7
Miracast - HTC One on Android 4.3 Sense 5
Full HD 1080P WiFi Display Dongle HDMI Wireless PTV Support DLNA / Miracast