Is Miracast the Universal Solution for Television Consumption?

Nathan Shively writes:

I would love to know your opinion on the future of Miracast. For a very long time now, I have been interested in the ability to mirror devices to a television. I’m aware of AirPlay for the Apple ecosystem, but not everyone has an Apple TV device. I’m more interested in a universal solution. In the past I’ve used DLNA technology on either Wi-Fi Blu-ray or a smart TV to get to push media to my television. However, this system is buggy at best and does not offer full mirroring capabilities. Miracast, along with an inexpensive HDMI receiver, seems like the perfect solution.

I first heard of Miracast about six months ago and was instantly curious. Not only would Miracast give me the ability to push video from my mobile devices to TV, but it would also give me the ability to mirror anything on my device to TV, whether it be movies, games, Internet browsing, or apps, etc. Also with the addition of a Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad, you’ve just turned a TV into a full-blown wireless PC in the living room.

I even saw where Sony has combined NFC and Miracast to produce Sony One Touch. Simply touch your phone to a Sony One Touch remote and, instantly, you’re mirrored to the TV.

Every attempt in the past to bring an Internet/computing experience to the living room has failed miserably in my eyes. I am tired of seeing manufacturers bring half solutions to whole problems. Internet TV, Roku, and Blu-ray browsers with apps all seem completely unnecessary if you have the ability to mirror your favorite device to any television.

What is your opinion on Miracast? Is it a whole solution to a whole problem?

Is Miracast the Universal Solution for Television Consumption?Great question, Nathan, and thanks for taking the time to ask it. Miracast is certainly an interesting answer to the problem of converting a box nearly everyone has in their living room — the television — into an all-in-one media consumption device. For those of us with Apple’s AirPlay, we’re already accustomed to the luxury of being able to enjoy lounging on our sofa watching video being streamed wirelessly from our Apple devices to our HDTVs, but Miracast aims to bring the same sort of technology to everyone who doesn’t own Apple stuff.

In some ways, Miracast reminds me of Bluetooth, at least in terms of adoption. Bluetooth was an incredibly exciting wireless technology when it was first announced, but it took quite a few years for it to really take off. In a sense, it was a bit ahead of its time, and only us early adopters sought out the technology that utilized Bluetooth. I remember Bill Gates pushing Bluetooth back around the turn of the century — when there were still plenty of doubters of the technology, which had first been developed in the ’90s. Today, of course, it’s more difficult to find a device that’s not equipped with Bluetooth.

Miracast may follow a similar adoption rate as Bluetooth. It’s an exciting technology intended to provide AirPlay’s functionality to any device, and if implemented well it will eventually succeed in the way Bluetooth has. Yet like Bluetooth, it is likely to face a number of hurdles along the way. It’s doubtful that Miracast will face the security issues Bluetooth has had to deal with and overcome over the years, since Miracast is intended primarily to be used in the home — where the wisest of us are connected to the Internet via more secure wireless networks than the earliest Bluetooth network connections. (Those of you unaware of what I’m talking about should read our advice on improving the security of your home network). But it will face some adoption issues, since the majority of consumers still aren’t settled into the idea of consuming their Internet content through their television displays.

Miracast will face some stiff competition along the way, too, as TV manufacturers learn from their early mistakes at developing so-called “smart” TVs. As smart TV manufacturers come up with better ways of delivering Internet content to displays, Miracast may be seen as more of a solution looking for a problem than it seems right now. I believe Miracast will succeed, but I don’t think it will be the end-all solution to the content delivery quagmire we seem to be in today. One thing you have to keep in mind is that people enjoy the simplicity of using their televisions; cable and satellite subscription seems to suit most folks just fine.

At the same time, the younger generations are more used to jumping hurdles to consume their content, and may be more willing to blast content from their devices to their TVs than the older generations who are the primary purchasers of HDTVs today. As younger generations age, accrue money, and buy TVs, their comfort in understanding various methods of connectivity may make technologies such as Miracast seem like second nature to them. In such a case, the older generations may stick with more traditional forms of content delivery (e.g., satellite, cable, and perhaps Netflix and Hulu-like streaming subscriptions), while the younger generations adopt Miracast and steer clear of expensive cable and satellite TV bundles.

Regardless of the outcome, Miracast is already a valuable entry into the marketplace, as it provides competition — and competition is always good for the consumer. Even if Miracast never reaches the market saturation its inventors may be hoping for, the technology pushes manufacturers to work harder at developing products they’ll hope will render the technology unnecessary (or at least, less valuable). As with Bluetooth, I expect we’ll be seeing a great number of implementations of the wireless technology, with some vendors finding great success. But Miracast will be one technology in a myriad of options for consumers, and a “universal solution” for television will still remain the Holy Grail. Perhaps we’ve already come as close as we’ll ever come to there being an all-in-one TV; I’m not sure, with the number of peripheral boxes and gadgets for televisions continuously rising, that we’re ever going to see the Macintosh of televisions.

What about the rest of you? Do you think Miracast will turn out to be the universal solution we’ve been waiting for?

Image from Wikimedia Commons

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.