Home Accessories Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter vs Google Chromecast

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter vs Google Chromecast

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.

Check out our Google Chromecast review and comparisons with the Roku Streaming Stick to see more about Google’s little HDMI streamer.

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.

microsoft wireless display adapter vs google chromecast

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?

microsoft surface pro 3 connected to microsoft wireless display adpater
The Surface Pro 3 supports the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter natively as do Android devices running 4.2.1 or later.

Google Chromecast costs $35 and often sells for less than that at various retailers. Microsoft sells the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter for $59.95 at their online store.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 supports the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter for screen mirroring.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 supports screen mirroring to the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter.

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.

surface and wireless display adapter for powerpoint
Running PowerPoint works great with the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter using Windows 8.1 or later and the Extend My Display option.

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.

youtube app with chromecast support
Open a Chromecast-enabled app like YouTube and play video. Choose the Chromecast button indicated by the arrow and then select the name of your Chromecast to start streaming.

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.

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9 Comments

  1. observer (@forsalead)

    11/15/2014 at 9:41 pm

    Agree with almost everything in the article (technically accurate as far as I can tell) however I the guide is not stressing enough the differences.
    To me, two things are supper differentiators and in this case gives the edge for the Microsoft adapter:
    The fact Microsoft adapter is a point to point connection is huge. When I travel and want to use the hotel TV either as large monitor to work use it to to stream apps/video to large screen, is HUGE. At home use I guess I can have all devices on same network but on the road? I can’t be connecting over the hotel network or client network.
    The other thing, it streams any thing I can show on my screen not specific apps. That is amazing and very liberating.

    As noted, the experience is very smooth. The flexibility around apps and being away from home, makes the $30 difference more than worth it.

    Btw: it works out of many, many windows devices, not sure why the author explicitly mentioning surface. Of course it works with Surface but its just one.

    Reply

    • Gary

      07/03/2015 at 5:58 pm

      Point to point is what I am looking for here, not really dependent on any wifi source. I had been to many places trying to cast my screen with no wifi connectivity. Then I was stuck without this adapter.

      Reply

  2. Johnston

    11/15/2014 at 10:53 pm

    I’m sisterly getting the Microsoft one. It makes so much more sense and its not locked to shitty android devices only.

    Reply

  3. George K

    12/01/2014 at 9:51 am

    I didn’t see it mentioned in the differences but was wondering if the Microsoft dongle runs the app from the dongle itself or requires the phone to be connected (and draining battery) the whole time it’s playing something? The Chromecast’s greatest strength from my perspective is that the device itself, and not the phone/tablet, is downloading and processing the file.

    Reply

  4. prince denzal

    12/30/2014 at 1:20 am

    The actual amplifier comes here separately, and like a complete package. The packages contain all of the antennas as well as cables you have to boost signal inside your home/office.
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  5. Tonis Lima

    01/30/2015 at 1:07 pm

    Not sure if you’re sponsored by Google or just in love with them but this review doesn’t make any sense!!!!
    Chromecast is a thousand light years behind the adapter! I got it and returned it the next day!
    It’s very very limited on what you can stream.
    The adapter on the other hand just sends ALL your desktop to the TV.

    I love Google and hate Microsoft but you’re really off here.

    Reply

  6. M L

    08/04/2015 at 8:40 pm

    I have had a Microsoft wireless display adapter for about 8 months. The first 5 I had absolutely no issues. However during the 6th month it started to stutter and now I can’t stream anything to it without issues. The Chromecast is still going strong. Yes the wireless display adapter is better technology, but the technology isn’t their yet. For 60 bucks I at least hoped to get a year out of the device.

    Reply

  7. WB

    03/31/2016 at 12:21 pm

    I am really surpised you missed out the biggest difference as note by one of the commenter.. Microsoft display acts like a wireless HDMI cable connection… You can use it with your laptop to connect second monitor wirelessly creating p2p connection independent of ur Home wifi router network… this itself is a big plus but like chromecast it also can mirror apps, photos, videos, game etc… I have google chromecast and i have tried using its desktop mirroring (which is still experimental i think) and it is very laggy (about 1s lag), makes the whole experience very frustrating, Hopefully google can fix that.soon and both device will be comparable.

    Reply

  8. Roberto Gentile

    03/31/2017 at 6:24 am

    Greate article!

    Reply

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