WiFi Alliance updates wireless display spec

Adam Oxford

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Hands up if you've ever bought a DisplayPort connector? Thought not, because while the monitor adaptor of tomorrow (still) is clearly a very elegantly designed piece of kit, everyone knows the future of everything is wireless.

Hence a bit of excitement about today's announcement from industry steering group WiFi Alliance . It's launched a new standard, known as Miracast , which should theoretically make it simple to get moving pictures from one PC, laptop or phone to any screen on your house using nothing but the power of 802.11x.

I've tested a few wireless display technologies in the past, and none of them have quite been lag free enough for gaming. Just a few milliseconds of delay between your crosshairs moving over a target and what's being shown on screen is enough to disrupt a gaming session. Whether or not Miracast will be better than its predecessors for fast games remains to be seen, but it does have a few advantages.

Right now, for example, display streaming is pretty much vendor specific and the closest there is to a standard which supports more than one manufacturer is Intel's WiDi (Wireless Display). Notable members of the alliance who've signed up to support Miracast, for example, include Broadcom, Marvell, Realtech, Texas Instruments and Samsung – plus Intel too. What this should mean is that you can use any Intel-powered laptop with a media receiver from, say, Bufallo, and likewise stream the display from your Galaxy smartphone or tablet to any other device with Miracast in.

It's like Apple Airplay Mirroring but for any device.

One advantage Miracast has over previous wireless display techs is that it doesn't rely on having a WiFi network up and running. Instead, it can be set up using WiFi Direct to join devices without a router. According to Intel's spec for its Miracast compatible WiFi 3.5, which is launching at the same time, latency is down by a factor of 10 over previous implementations and supports full 1080p HD. The bad news is that it still lags by about 60ms, which is probably too much for FPS games, but might well work for an RTS or similar.

Still confused about what Miracast is? The WiFi Alliance have produced the helpful video below.

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