Wireless Display Testing - Miracast and the Nexus 7 (2013)

Note: Please read the new blog entry on Miracast. Things have changed quite a bit since this blog entry. I am leaving this blog entry simply for reference.

This has taken quite a bit longer to get to than I planned. To say it has been a busy summer would be an understatement, but I won't go into that. :)

A few weeks ago I received my new Nexus 7 (2013) and immediately started playing around with Miracast. To say I'm disappointed would also be an understatement.

I had high hopes for Miracast, the open wireless video standard. I have been quite critical of Apple's AirPlay technology. First it's a proprietary protocol, and second it's difficult to get it working on many school (non-personal) wireless networks. The Miracast protocol uses a direct device-to-device wireless network which should (and does) solve the networking issue. Considering it doesn't have to pipe its traffic through a wireless access point, it should also be lower latency and higher quality. It is definitely not either.

I'm getting ahead of myself because I haven't even talked about how challenging it was getting the Nexus 7 to connect to the Netgear PTV3000 and ScreenBeam. It took several tries, rebooting both the receiver and the Nexus 7, to get Miracast to finally work. After those several tries I decided to record a video showing what was (and what was not) happening, and of course it worked. Sort of.

The resulting mirroring wasn't just choppy. At it's best, it had a low frame rate. It would constantly suffer from artifacts, audio stuttering, and somewhat regularly the video would just freeze for a few seconds.

All of these issues were present when testing either Miracast receiver. Neither the PTV3000 nor the ScreenBeam performed well. The conditions were pretty much ideal. It was summer at a school, so there wasn't a lot of wireless network traffic. Occasionally my devices can pick up a neighbour's WiFi, but even when it does the signal is extremely weak. There honestly wasn't any reason why the setup should not have performed perfectly. Using AirPlay to connect my iPad to my laptop running AirServer, the video was quite smooth, so I cannot think of any reason why Miracast wouldn't work at least as well.

I have a feeling Chromecast came about because Google was equally frustrated with Miracast.