It's my phone's screen on my television screen. And it only requires a compatible phone, a $35 Chromecast, and a Wi-Fi connection.
Why is this so awesome? It's because I can do anything on my phone (presentations, software demonstrations, toss up videos or pictures, or show off a document or PDF) and it displays wirelessly on a nearby television or projector.
It's just another reason why Chromecast, at $35 or less, is the perfect impulse buy and tech toy.
Wait, So What is Screen Mirroring?
That's a picture of my television showing my camera app taking a picture of the television displaying my camera app taking a picture of ... you get the point.
Now taking a picture of a picture of a picture of a ... poltergeist may not serve any useful purpose. But what I tried next was far more useful: everything else you can do on a phone. I tried PowerPoint presentations (including scribbling red notes on a slide), displaying PDF files, showing a video clip, and more, and everything worked flawlessly.
Why? It's basically like hooking up a second monitor, except the Chromecast substitutes for the annoying cable. There's a wee bit of lag, but unless you're trying to simultaneously watch a video on your phone and the big screen at the same time (just look up -- it's better for your eyes), it won't bother you.
Why is This Useful?
If you work in an office, you probably already have some way of doing presentations: a projector, a television, a lot of cables, etc. But, if you don't want to lug a laptop around, you can grab a compatible phone or tablet and impress your colleagues on your feet, rather than from behind a keyboard.
And if you're really adventurous, maybe you give a tablet+Chromecast+Wi-Fi hotspot a spin during your next trial -- it beats clicking around on a laptop or using printed displays and laser pointers.
What's the Catch?
No catch, but there is a current limitation: this is for supported devices only:
- Nexus 4
- Nexus 5
- Nexus 7 (2013)
- Nexus 10
- Samsung Galaxy S4
- Samsung Galaxy S4 (Google Play Edition)
- Samsung Galaxy S5
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10
- HTC One M7
- HTC One M7 (Google Play Edition)
- LG G3
- LG G2
- LG G Pro 2
You'll notice that this is a list of flagship and Google Nexus devices only -- no budget $100 smartphones here. Google has indicated that support for additional devices is coming soon.
For supported devices, you can enable screen mirroring from inside the Chromecast app, or if your device is rooted and running a modified version of Android (like mine), you can find a "Cast Screen" option in your display settings. (H/T to Android Central.)
Also, no Apple or Windows devices are supported. For iPhone users, Apple's AirPlay, which has been around for a while, does pretty much the same thing, but requires an Apple TV device, which is a bit more pricey than the Chromecast. However, it works with both iOS (mobile) and OS X (desktop and laptop) devices.
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