Over the last few months I have been playing about with a few small gadgets, in particular the type that project your screen onto the TV.As an iPad and iPhone owner for a number of years, I was an avid user of Apple TV which worked great when I was part of Apple ecosystem. Since 'leaving the cult', I have been trying to figure out a suitable replacement and here is a summary of my findings. I hope you find it useful if you are planning on doing something similar.
In summary, it’s a cheap device and I really liked the fact it's got a built in HDMI connector rather than needing to use a separate cable. Biggest problem really is that it’s all centred round the Chrome browser which meant I only tended to use it when surfing and wanting to show a webpage on the screen.
In summary, it’s a nice compact device and the USB power socket means you have the potential to save space in your bag with one less plug. Where it lets itself down is that in order to update the device I needed to download the firmware to your PC, put the device into a maintenance mode and then connect to it over its own wireless network. This seems really clunky given the Actiontec can do it over the web. Fix this 'issue' as you have a sleek little device that's easy to pop in your bag and take with you on the road.
Actiontec Screenbeam Pro
It might cost a little more and come with a separate power cable/socket (not USB) but that can be forgiven as everything else is a pleasure to use. Updating the units firmware can be done over the internet straight from the device without having to download first or connect to a separate wifi network. The addition of wireless USB is a great touch although more testing required to find out exactly the limits of the technology.
Intel WiDi vs Miracast
During my testing, I also discovered that Miracast and Intel WiDi are two separate protocols, or at least they seem to be. Intel WiDi was a clunky experience as I first needed to download the app before I could send my small screen to the big screen. Compare this to Miracast, which was a simple swipe and press on Windows 8, I can see Miracast competing much better with Apple TV than Intel WiDi.
What about VGA?
Both of these units have HDMI only which means I might not be able to use them for presenting as many projectors I bump into on my travels tend to have VGA, especially if they are built in projectors attached to the ceiling. I could get round this with a HDMI to VGA adapter but that's just another cable for me to lose :)....
Perhaps the world just needs to move on from VGA?