Microsoft saw Apple, Google and Amazon trying to compete with Roku in the streaming HDMI dongle category and decided to throw its hat in the ring with the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. We decided it put it up against the most popular such device: the Google Chromecast. In this Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter vs Google Chromecast head-to-head comparison we’ll show you whether Microsoft’s HDMI stick is worth nearly double the cost of the Chromecast.
Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter vs Google Chromecast: What’s Similar?
The two streaming sticks work similarly. Plug each of them into a free HDMI connection on a TV or display. They both get power from a USB-to-AC adapter plugged into the end opposite the HDMI connection. Both sticks will automatically switch a TV to that HDMI input once the user starts streaming from a phone, tablet or computer to the stick, if the TV or display supports Samsung’s Anynet+ for HDMI signals.
You can stream content from a source device through each of the HDMI sticks to the TV through a wireless connection. They’re both easy to set up and reconnect reliably. In each case, the streaming quality looks good and streams fluidly, most of the time. We experienced a little stuttering with the Google Chromecast at times, but it didn’t happen too often. The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter streamed smoothly every time.
Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter vs Google Chromecast: What’s Different?
Second, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter uses Miracast technology to stream content from devices. Plenty of phones, tablets and laptops support Miracast, including Samsung Android phones and tablets, many Nokia Lumia Windows Phones, the Microsoft Surface or Surface Pro Windows tablets, and many more. You can find a Miracast device at Wi-Fi.org. They offer a list of all certified “source devices,” which means devices that support Miracast as a source to stream to the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter.
Google Chromecast doesn’t support Miracast. It uses a proprietary technology that requires Chromecast specific support built into any app or software.
It’s not surprising that most apps and software that support the Chromecast run on Android. Many of them are in the Google Play Store. However, the Google Chrome browser will also support streaming specific tabs open on Chrome to a Chromecast. Also, many iOS apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and more will stream from an iPhone or iPad to a Chromecast. We know of no iOS apps that will stream to the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. However, many Android devices running 4.2.1 or later do work with it. I tested it with the Samsung Galaxy Note III and Note 4, the HTC One M7 and M8. Android tablets tested included the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Nexus 7. Check the list at Wi-Fi.org to see if your device will work with it.
Third, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter only works with Windows 8.1 or later. That’s strange since the Chromecast, through the Chrome browser, works on any version of Windows that runs Chrome.
Finally, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter makes a direct connection to the source device and still lets the user connect to a Wi-Fi network for Internet access. That’s not the case with the Chromecast.
Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter vs Google Chromecast: Which One?
Picking one over the other depends on what the user wants to stream to their TV. It’s not as simple as Android owners get the Chromecast and Microsoft people get the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. Mirroring an Android phone’s screen that supports the Miracast works equally well on both devices.
People should choose the Chromecast if …
- They’re price conscious and want the cheaper device
- They own an iOS device
- Only want to stream movies or TV shows from one of the apps that support Chromecast
You should pay the extra money to buy the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter if…
- You own a Surface Pro 3 and a supported Android phone or tablet
- Want to run PowerPoint from a supported laptop or computer and can extend the display
- Don’t own an iOS device
I own both and I’d give up the Chromecast before I’d give up the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, since it supports both Android and the Surface Pro 3. It does a great job of streaming content played on the phone and Surface. It’s the better option for extending the display to make presentations with PowerPoint.It also seems to stream the content more reliably with a direct connection via Miracast, freeing up my phone or tablet’s Internet connection.