Chromecast vs Miracast – what’s the difference?

chromecast2With Google launching its new $35 Chromecast dongle, there’s a bit of confusion around how it compares with Android 4.2′s new Miracast feature and whether or not the two are the same thing.

So what’s the Chromecast vs Miracast story? Miracast is a new feature integrated into Android 4.2 that allows two supporting devices to create a direct ‘peer-to-peer’ connection between themselves over Wi-Fi for the purpose of audio-video mirroring. It’s a bit like Intel’s WiDi (wireless display) technology. In fact, WiDi supports Miracast as of version 3.5. The idea with Miracast is that it allows you to transmit up to 1080p (1920×1080-pixel) video and 5.1-channel digital audio over a direct-connect Wi-Fi link between say your supporting phone and a Miracast dongle on your big-screen TV. In that regard, Miracast is a bit like using a Bluetooth audio dongle where audio is played and transmitted from an Android smartphone via Bluetooth to a tiny Bluetooth dongle connected to your audio Hi-Fi setup.

Chinese chipmaker Rockchip recent demonstrated a Miracast dongle it believes could be made for $10 or integrated into smartphones or tablets at low cost, so the technology isn’t expensive.

Chromecast is similar but works differently. It’s basically a single-function mini PC that streams video from  the web via its own Wi-Fi hotspot that must link into your existing Wi-Fi network. So rather than a direct connection like Miracast, Chromecast links into your Wi-Fi network. It also runs an embedded version of Chrome OS that basically runs video through a built-in browser. You initiate playback of videos from a PC (Windows, Mac OS X or Linux) or from a mobile app. In this regard, it’s more like a simple network media player but with support for online services such as YouTube and Netflix.

So putting it more simply, Miracast is a way of transmitting HDMI-grade audio and video over a direct peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network with another Miracast-capable device. Chromecast is more like a network media player you control via web browser or mobile app like Plex or XBMC where your mobile device acts like a remote control rather than originating playback device.

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3 comments for “Chromecast vs Miracast – what’s the difference?

  1. Pingback: Is OVO a Chromecast/Miracast combo? |
  2. Pingback: Miracast-Compatible Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes | Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes

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