The list of Miracast capable devices, dongles or adapters available in Australia is terribly small, and whilst Miracast has been around as a standard for a while now it’s still not terribly well known and is still in its relative infancy in terms of brand recognition and adoption by consumers, retailers and manufacturers. One company who certainly know about Wireless display on TVs is Netgear, who actually released the PTV3000 or Push2TV as they call it, fairly early on in the piece and had it Miracast certified after it was on the market.
As well as being Miracast compliant, the PTV3000 is actually WiDi – Wi-Fi Direct – compliant as well, WiDi being Intel’s standard for wireless video transfer. The sum total of being both Miracast and WiDi compliant is that the adapter gives you the ability to stream content from your laptop, tablet or smartphone screen on your TV with no wires connecting your device.
The PTV3000 is tiny, it’s about the size of a business card but it’s a lot thicker at 1.2cm. It has 3 ‘holes’ on the back, USB Power via MiniUSB, HDMI and a reset hole. On the right hand side it has a button described by Netgear as ‘Wireless Reset Display Mode/WPS’ – all I know is that you use it when doing firmware updates. On the front is a single white LED that illuminates to indicate the adapter is on.
Once you’ve gotten the PTV3000 out of its plastic packaging – the ‘Easy Open’ back on it I found a little less than easy to open – you’ll find setup of the PTV3000 is extremely simple. The PTV3000 comes with a 5Volt/1Amp power adapter and MiniUSB Cable that you power it with and you simply use a HDMI Cable (not supplied) to plug the PTV3000 into a spare HDMI Input on your TV. Netgear has a handy Getting Started Guide included with the adapter as well as a Setup Guide available on their website.
Once you’ve connected the PTV3000 to your TV, turn it on and switch to that HDMI Input and you’re good to go, it’s to my mind a very easy and simple setup process.
When it’s ready to go it will sit there saying it’s Ready for Connection, it then prompts you to initiate the wireless display on your phone, tablet or PC.
When you go to connect your device, the way to do it will vary the Nexus 4 you delve into the Settings menu – Settings > Display > Wireless Display – the Galaxy S4 was as simple as swiping down the notification shade and choosing ‘Screen Mirroring’ if you’ve removed this, it can generally be found under Settings > Screen Mirroring. The HTC One was found under Settings > Media Output – it did take a while to recognise the presence of the PTV3000 seeming to want to find the proprietary HTC Medialink adapter but did work quite well once connected.
Once you have turned on the connection on your device it will scan for compatible devices and then prompt you to choose the device to connect to, unless you’re running more than one Miracast Adapter or Push2TV device this should be fairly easy to select.
Miracast is new, and as a new technology, new developments and refinements occur so you will get Firmware updates that add better connections or signal. An inclusion in the packaging is an instruction to head over to netgear.com/stream, select the Push2TV and download the Firmware updates. There are also instructions on the page on how to update your adapter.
The update process actually requires a PC with a wireless connection, this was a little out of the ordinary but on with the show. You essentially download the firmware, connect to a wireless network that the adapter is running, open a web browser and upload and install the firmware from there. It’s a pretty simple process but probably a little scary for the novice user.
At the time I received the PTV3000 it was running Firmware 2.2.16, there is a new firmware update coming in the next few weeks updating it to version 2.4.1. Netgear describes the update thusly ‘The firmware update will improve compatibility with some devices and improve the connection rate in WiFi interference prone environments’. I tried the PTV3000 out on the original firmware and then with the newer Firmware included, it may just be me, but I did find it helped a little. At any rate, update your devices, it may actually help.
Netgear lists the Nexus 4, LG Optimus G and the Sony Xperia T/TL as compatible devices for the PTV3000 adapter. In theory any Miracast certified device is capable of connecting to and displaying on the TV. To check if your phone is Miracast compliant, head over to the WiFi Alliance Miracast Certification search results page and see if your device is there.
I wanted to try out the PTV3000 out with as many phones as possible, I was able to lay my hands on the Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4, Note II and HTC One all of which connected with no issues. The connection was relatively fast and there were no annoying glitches or hiccups to the process except with the Nexus 4 which connected after a reboot.
Movie Playback is the main attraction for a number of the people I showed the Netgear PTV3000 off to, the way it transferred both sound and video to the TV was described as ‘Cool’ every time, as was the ability to control the volume from your Android device.
Playing videos in MX Player at 1080P and 720P resolution was a little less than what I had expected or hoped for, both played back but there was some choppiness every 10-15 seconds where it appeared to buffer over the wireless connection.
Playing YouTube videos at 480P was no issue, there was not much lag or chop.
Playing a movie through Google Movies brought about a little more joy, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen played back very well, there was a little chop in action sequences but other than that it was great.
The place where Miracast shines is playing back videos from your phone that you’ve taken yourself. Granted, these days most phones have 1080P video capture enabled but the PTV3000 tended to stream these a lot better, whether this was the phones ability to handle its own content better or something to do with codecs is not really apparent.
Here is where most people will want to use Miracast and also where it shines. Your phone is a camera, the quality of photos varies to a pretty large degree but in the end the large majority have a camera and it’s great to gather all your friends/family around the TV to show off the pictures you’ve taken from a trip, day out or a special event.
Miracast works flawlessly showing off pictures and add the slideshow modes from something like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One and you’re on for a great display.
Games play back well, let me just say that games are one of the key factors for me in using something like the PTV3000, connect a PS3 controller to your phone and you can Play GTA: Vice City to your hearts content.
Vice City is actually a good example of something that needs improving but not from Netgear, the problem is in the control system, with Vice City you constantly need to be checking your phone to see where your thumb controls are. If gaming via this method is to work there has to be another way and that would be games controllers, but so far I haven’t seen much in the way of non-root methods of connecting them.
I’ve used Miracast a few times at home using my current Miracast adapter, but it’s not something that I use terribly regularly. The times it has been useful has been to show off a YouTube video or Photos and Video that I have on my phone.
I see the possibilities for Miracast as a presentation tool for offices where you can run the entire thing from your phone and as it doesn’t need a Wi-Fi network to run off like other wireless display tech such as AirDisplay it has a distinct advantage in that area of the market.
As Miracast is a standard, the PTV3000 could in theory last you the lifetime of a couple of phones so it’s actually pretty good value, I spent $40 on an MHL Adapter and the manufacturer changed the pin configuration for their next model so that it wasn’t compliant. Priced at $89-$99 the PTV3000 has interested just about everyone I have shown it to, with most heading off to a JB Hifi to obtain one based on the Miracast function alone but the added compatability with WiDi on compatible laptops running Windows 8 made this adapter a real eye opener for most people.
If you are interested in, or have need for a streaming wireless display then your options are fairly limited, but thankfully the Netgear PTV3000 is a very good one, it’s a great device and you should be quite happy with the results.