I demonstrated an interesting setup at an event in Germany this week. It’s a PowerPoint presentation created on an Intel Compute Stick. It’s updated to Windows 10 and running Office Mobile. OneDrive keeps multiple devices in sync and Miracast is used for the presentation. I’ve reproduced the demo in a video below.
Two ‘PCs’ and a wireless receiver.
The Powerpoint app also runs on an Ultrabook and gets updated live after editing on the Compute Stick. I then take a Windows 10 Mobile Lumia (a cheap one) and cast the same file, using the same Windows 10 app, to a big screen. It’s a complex demo but it’s a really interesting one because it shows that you can indeed get productive with a low-end Atom-based stick using Windows 10 Universal apps. It also shows what is going to be possible with Windows 10 Mobile phones when Continuum is available. You might not need the PC at all!
Miracast is used for the wireless display from the phone but with Continuum-enabled phones you’ll also get HDMI or DisplayPort over a USB-C connector. You could also substitute the phone for a pen-enabled tablet if you wanted to annotate. Again, Miracast would be possible if you wanted untethered use.
Universal Apps, cloud-sync and Continuum are going to enable some interesting usage models. Watch the video and let me know your thoughts below.
Intel Compute Stick upgraded to Windows 10 (€120)
Logitec K400 wireless USB keyboard with trackpad (€30)
Actiontec Screenbeam Pro updated to V220.127.116.11 firmware (€60)
After learning that the Amtran barebones laptop had been used on-stage at BUILD this year I tracked down the relevant presentation and am pleased that I did. There’s some really good information about Continuum in there along with some excellent demos. Important things to note are the Miracast continuum demo, which doesn’t need a physical video connector, and the projection mode, again, something that Miracast is perfect for. There’s also a Continuum control application that works as a touchpad for a remote screen.
Microsoft already have a set of UWP apps that are available via PCs but as soon as Windows 10 hits smartphones there’s going to be an opportunity to enjoy a new type of ultramobile computing…or is there? Indications are that new smartphone hardware is needed to enable Continuum features.
Thanks TCL for your support and an interesting set of TV products. At IFA2015 last week I got up-close with a huge 110-inch 4K display, a 4K monitor with colors that were stunning and three 65-inch curved monitors showing 12K video content. Video below.
Ever since I watched the Windows 10 casting presentation at BUILD 2015 I’ve been quite excited about some of the possibilities that a universal Windows 10 can bring to media casting. Look at the $99 Windows dongles and think about Windows 10 Mobile sticks that could challenge Chromecast and Amazon’s products. WiDi and Miracast are improving and there’s DLNA to consider too.
I’ve done a few tests on Miracast with Windows 10 and the results look better than before but today I took the time to drill down into DIAL and DLNA. It’s good news and bad news at the moment.
Having done some research into casting under Windows recently (it’s improving a lot in Windows 10 – read more here) I was interested to read about the new Lenovo Cast product. According to the spec sheet (below) it’s just a DLNA and Miracast unit which is a flexible choice for Windows 8 users but as a heavy Amazon Fire TV user I know that on-stick apps/streaming and a remote control can be easier in many cases. There’s DIAL too. Windows 10 supports this remote-app startup protocol so why doesn’t the Lenovo Cast have Lenovo apps (or Windows 10 IoT + apps?
‘Play-To’ and ‘Project To’ gets a big work-over in Windows 10 with continued focus on Miracast.
We’ve been tracking wireless display ever since it was an Ultrabook feature. [Sept 2011.] Intel’s WiDI screen casting hardware was always a step ahead of the Miracast implementation it was built around but it was largely irrelevant because Windows 8 only ever supported Miracast. It looks like that performance gap will be closed now though because Microsoft are adding extensions and improvements to Windows 10 Casting (AKA MS Miracast.) The user experience will be better, paring over WiFi Direct will be faster and there’ll be a back-channel for user interface control (touchscreens.) We’ve tested it and it’s true.
At €39 the Amazon Fire TV Stick is very interesting. For Prime customers it’s a must-buy but for those of us with Miracast-enabled devices it means that the Miracast feature (Screen Mirroring) also brings extra value. Early firmware builds for the Fire TV Stick didn’t support Miracast from Windows 8.1 but I’ve just received a stick here in Germany, upgraded the firmware and tested Miracast on two Windows PCs, a Windows smartphone and an Android tablet. All of them worked but there are still some issues that need sorting out. Read on for a review of the Fire TV Stick, a focus on Miracast and some thoughts about KODI, iConsole Micro and Chromecast.
The Amazon Fire TV stick was looking like the best Miracast option for Windows 8 PCs; A real no-brainer. The problem is that it isn’t working. Owners are reporting that it’s showing up as a remote display on Windows 8.1 but no-one is reporting a successful connection. Does this mean it’s a no-go? Fortunately not because Amazon have recently indicated that Windows 8.1 support is coming soon.
April 2015 Update: A recent firmware update is helping but big issues exist. Source: Thurrot.com
It seems that a number of owners aren’t happy with Amazon FireTV sticks they bought for Windows and Miracast use. I’m not happy either as in my eyes, Miracast support is Miracast support and not ‘a subset of Miracast devices support.’
Quite how long we’ll have to wait for Miracast on Windows 8.1 with Amazon FireTV sticks is another question but at least Amazon is on the case and have committed to doing something. Keep your eyes on the product page, this forum thread and firmware updates.
Note that Miracast isn’t he same as WiDi although a WiDi compatible device works with a Miracast receiver. WiDi has more features than Miracast and is now up to version 5.1 with 4K support. I’m not aware of any products that have it yet.
Every Windows 8 tablet I’ve tried recently supports Miracast but I rarely use it because it’s never plugged into my TV. I’ve thought about getting a cheap stick I can leave in the living room TV but never really got round to it. Now that the $39 Amazon Fire TV stick has been announced though I think the solution will be a no-brainer.
Android L, ART and Chromebooks. If you use Windows products, these Google products might make you sit up and take notice soon because Google have just announced important enhancements that connect the Chromebook and Android world.
There was plenty of news from Google IO’s keynote yesterday and the big news was Android L, the codename for the next generation of Android. A developer preview is available now and when it launches for customers it will include changes that enhance the experience for users and, more importantly, increase investment in professional app development for this space. It could draw developer resources away from the Windows Store just as things were getting interesting there.
Android L details are still emerging but thanks to the keynote yesterday we now know that a new user interface layer called Material Design, new security features based on Samsung Knox and ART, the new Android runtime that replaces Dalvic will be included.
ART improves on Dalvic by pre-compiling code at install-time rather than during runtime which speeds-up the startup of apps and improves performance and battery life by reducing runtime CPU usage. There’s a useful intro to ART here which proves it’s being developed for i86 Android too. We assume those 2-in-1 runtime developers like Bluestacks and Console OS are also going to migrate to this model. More importantly it looks like Google are going to develop ART for Chromebooks meaning you’ll be able to run Android apps on a Chromebook.
Don’t expect Android apps to run on Chromebook immediately or without porting work; The wording of the announcement that Android apps are coming to Chromebook left a lot of questions . “This is a difficult challenge technically” says Google.
It’s likely that ART is being developed with ChromeOS in mind but that the hardware extraction layer needs to be refined on that platform before apps can be used. Security, user sessions and graphics capability is vastly different on a Chromebook. There’s a mouse and keyboard too which means may have to be ported or even submitted to another store before they can run on the Chromebook.
“Our goal is to bring your favorite Android applications in a thoughtful manner to Chromebooks.”
In a demo we saw Evernote running on a smartphone and then in a window on a Chromebook. “We have ported that Android application…” says Google indicating that yes, apps will need to be changed for Chromebooks. Vine was also demonstrated.
Like Windows Phone and Windows 8 there’s going to be a close connection and cross-pollination of apps between Android phone and Chromebook which means developers may put more resources into the bigger screen and embrace more expensive application projects. Now that Drive, Slides and Sheets support Microsoft Office docs natively there’s a more difficult choice for Windows users. Being able to run native apps with local data storage on the Chromebook also changes they way we should look at these devices and knowing that they offer some of the highest processing power per dollar in the market today means the Windows-based offerings will have to step up the game. The potential here is absolutely game-changing for Microsoft.
Let’s move on to screen mirroring. It was announced as a new capability for Chromecast and it also has a Trojan-horse element.
It’s useful to be able to use Miracast on a PC for wireless screen mirroring and audio transmission but the adaptors are expensive or no-name products. Android 4.4 already includes Miracast so it makes sense that the newly announced Chromecast screen mirroring feature is based on Miracast and it means Windows PC users (at least users with recent products) potentially get a $35 Miracast option – with Android inside. There’s still a question mark over what Chromecast screen mirroring really is so we look forward to more details on this. If it’s true, Windows users may be buying Android without realizing it and that build could evolve into Android TV.
Let’s assume you’re using Windows on a PC, but you buy a Chromebook because, well, it’s a powerful and cheap way to use the Web and your 4-year old Windows laptop is just old, slow and very boring. Then you pick up a Chromecast which just happens to be the next model with Android TV inside. We’re speculating here but if that’s the case you’ve just got yourself into a situation where you’re getting into Android apps on the TV that can be run on the Chromebook. You’re fully into the Google ecosystem for just $235, without an Android phone. What’s the next step? An Android phone and tablet?
Be excited about what’s happening here but be aware of the timescales that could go way into 2015 before we get a choice of integrated products. It could take even longer than that before Chromebooks get any major selection of Android / ART apps. When it happens though it will bring important enhancements across all Android-based products. The application ecosystem could get even more investment and the Chromebook could get native apps. If you’re prepared to commit to the Google way of life you’ve got an exciting choice coming up. That Windows / Android dual-OS option is looking more and more important.
We’ve tested a number of Windows tablets here at UMPCPortal and one of the biggest issues we hear is on video output. People like their HDMI ports and when it’s not available on their ‘PC’ they’re not happy. There are questions to be asked about how often you’d really use it on a device that’s targeted at consumption, yes, but these Windows tablets do more than just help users consume content and that’s the point. Luckily there are options for those that don’t have the port. They come with limitations, yes, but they can also have advantages. Take the wireless video solution WiDi for example. In this article I take a deep-dive into this wireless display technology that you’ll find on many new Intel-based Tablets, 2-in-1s and Ultrabooks.
As the year draws to a close I’m frantically trying to finish the full review of the Toshiba WT8. It’s taking longer than expected for a number of reasons, not least is the fact that there’s just so much to this tablet. So many usage scenarios, so much dynamic range and even a few surprises! For example, I didn’t realize that Bitlocker encryption is available.
In order to demonstrate a few of the unique features I’ve put together a couple of videos for you that I hope will keep you interested until the full review is available in a few days. You’ll see Miracast, a USB display setup, the Bitlocker encryption and a few other things. Below the videos I’ve also published a paragraph from the full review; A teaser!
Extract from the full review of the Toshiba Encore WT8 Windows tablet:
The performance advantage over previous, Clovertrail-generation tablets really shows up in web browsing. It’s much more of a desktop experience in terms of speed and quality. Program startup times are good too and after measuring the SSD, an eMMC-based soldered module, I was pleased to see an improvement over many Clovertrail-generation test results.
Cinebench tests results for CPU and OpenGL are as good as an Ultrabook I tested recently and, just for fun, the CrystalMark04 scores are 10 times the first netbook I ever had and about 4 times that of a good quality netbook from 2010.
..and a demo image from the 8MP auto-focus rear camera which I find surprisingly good in daylight usage. One more demo pic here.