Feature Review: Wireless Display on the DROID MAXX & DROID Ultra
One of the more in-your-face features found on the new Motorola DROID MAXX and DROID Ultra is a little something called Wireless Display. It would be difficult to use one of the new DROIDs for more than a few minutes without seeing the Wireless Display feature mentioned somewhere. There is a toggle present in the drop down settings pane and even the clock widget on the homescreen acts like a shortcut for launching the feature. So if you happen to own one of these phones, you may be wondering what the Wireless Display feature you keep seeing does. If so, read-on and we’ll go over it all.
Wireless Display allows users to share their phone’s screen with any HD display, including HD televisions and HD computer monitors. Think of it as having an HDMI cable connecting your phone to your TV, except without the cable. To use Wireless Display, you’ll first need to have a Miracast compatible HDTV or a Miracast wireless display adapter. I don’t own either of those yet, but Verizon Wireless was kind enough to send over a Netgear Push2TV wireless display adapter so that I could try the feature out.
Netgear Push2TV Wireless Display Adapter
Verizon Wireless sells the Netgear Push2TV wireless display adapter for $69.99, making it much more affordable than going out a purchasing a new Miracast compatible HD television. I personally would rather have this adapter than have the technology built into my television because it is portable and can be used with any display that has an HDMI port.
The Push2TV comes with a wall adapter, USB cable and instructions. Surprisingly, it doesn’t include an HDMI cable. It probably won’t be a big deal, for most people though. I know I have several unused HDMI cables in my house, but it would have been nice to see them throw one in anyway. The device itself is nice and compact and can be powered using a USB port on your television or monitor if one is available.
There isn’t much to say about the Push2TV, it only has one job and it performs that job smashingly well. Every Miracast compatible device I’ve used with the Push2TV worked as they should and connected quickly.
Wireless Display Setup
Setting up Wireless display for first time use was surprisingly easy. I don’t think it is even possible for them to make it any easier. I plugged the Push2TV wireless display adapter into an available HDMI port on my TV, plugged in the USB cable to power the adapter and launched the feature on the Motorola DROID MAXX. A few seconds later the phone’s screen was on my television screen. That’s the entire setup process from start to finish.
A big reason why the setup of Wireless Display is so fast and easy is the phone and Miracast device actually communicate with each other directly and do not use your WiFi connection. So there is no selecting a wireless network or entering a network key. Just power both devices on and launch the feature on your phone and it connects automatically.
Wireless Display Uses, Performance & Final Thoughts
Wireless Display can send anything that is happening on your phone’s screen to your HDTV. I’ve used the feature to browse the internet, consume locally stored media such as movies, my music library and photos, and for streaming content from the cloud such as YouTube, Pandora and Netflix. And as the photo above shows, the feature also comes in handy for playing Smartphone games on a larger screen. The feature works with everything that is on your Smartphone including all of the apps you have installed and the camera.
My personal favorite use of Wireless Display involves using it alongside another feature found on the Motorola DROID MAXX and DROID Ultra and many other Android devices. The feature I’m talking about is USB On-The-Go (OTG) host mode.
USB OTG on the Motorola DROID MAXX and DROID Ultra allows them to behave like a host, which means other USB devices such as a keyboard, mouse, flash drive, external hard drive, digital camera, or even other Smartphones can be attached to your DROID and they will all act as a slave. With USB OTG and Wireless Display, you can use your Smartphone as a desktop computer.
In the picture above, I’m using a powered Micro USB OTG Cable, along with a cheap USB hub to connect my Ducky Shine II keyboard, Logitech G9x mouse and an SD card reader with a 64GB card to the DROID MAXX. It all works out of the box without any app download required. Just plug it all in and the mouse cursor shows up, typing on the keyboard enters text and the contents of the SD card are readable from the phone.
The experience is so good that I actually wrote the vast majority of my Motorola DROID MAXX & DROID Ultra Review using the DROID MAXX, and the monitor, keyboard and mouse for my desktop computer. My PC monitor is equipped with dual HDMI inputs and a switcher and I keep my Keyboard and mouse on a hub anyway. So switching from using the desktop’s tower to working on the Android Smartphone takes a matter of seconds for me. This right here is reason enough to make me love Miracast and the Wireless Display feature found on the DROID MAXX and DROID Ultra.
So there is no question that the Wireless Display feature has a lot of great uses, but how does it perform? Quite well actually. No matter the activity, the reproduced image and audio looked and sounded great on every display I used it with. Watching Netflix or YouTube videos using the Wireless Display feature was enjoyable and my children had a great time watching each other play Minecraft Pocket Edition, Angry Birds and their other favorite Smartphone games on the big screen.
The only minor issue I experienced that needs pointed out is the tiny amount of delay that is to be expected while using wireless technology like Miracast. The delay isn’t significant enough to make the experience bad, but it is definitely there and is most noticeable while watching videos because voices are ever so slightly out of sync.
Bottom line, I enjoyed using Wireless Display on the DROID MAXX and DROID Ultra so much, that I’m now planning on purchasing my own Netgear Push2TV wireless display adapter so that I can continue using similar features on my personal Smartphones and tablets.