Screen mirroring for professional information sharing & collaboration

To share content from a computer, tablet or smartphone to a TV display or a projector, you can use a screen mirroring device or a media streaming solution. But there are quite a few differences between how screen mirroring and media streaming work. Even if you are not a technology geek, you should be aware of these differences. They help you better understand what you can do with both technologies. We’ll therefore briefly explain

  • how screen mirroring and media streaming work,
  • why screen mirroring is the best solution for a multitude of professional use cases,
  • why crowdbeamer excels at screen mirroring, opening up a whole new way of real-time information sharing during meetings and presentations.

What is screen mirroring?

Simply put, screen mirroring takes the full content displayed on your computer, tablet or smartphone screen and sends it to an external screen via a cable or a wireless connection. When mirroring your computer, tablet or smartphone display, the external screen will present an exact real-time replica of what you see on your computer or mobile device.

Screen mirroring

Screen mirroring takes the full content displayed on your computer, tablet or smartphone screen and sends it to an external screen via a cable or a wireless connection

For example: if you’re launching an application, you’re editing a text file or reading an email message, that’s precisely what will show up on the external screen. If you are watching a video or visiting a web page, that’s what your audience will see. But if you’re giving a presentation, there’s more to it than that. Screen mirroring will enable you to benefit from PowerPoint’s or Keynote’s presenter mode. While your audience views your presentation on the external screen, you can watch it on your screen along with any speaker notes that you prepared.

Screen mirroring with presentations

Screen mirroring enables you to benefit from PowerPoint’s or Keynote’s presenter mode

What is media streaming?

Media streaming only takes specific content that is accessed on your computer, tablet or smartphone and sends it to a digital media player on an external device via a wireless connection.

Typical examples are YouTube videos, or Netflix TV shows that you select from your tablet or smartphone and then stream to your TV display. While you are watching these on your TV display, you can continue to use any other app on your tablet or smartphone without interrupting the video. That is so because you’re not streaming video from your mobile device to the TV display. Instead, you’re using the YouTube of Netflix app to stream video over the internet from the YouTube or Netflix servers to your TV display.

Media streaming

Media streaming only sends specific content to a digital media player on an external device via a wireless internet connection

Screen mirroring vs. media streaming

Screen mirroring and media streaming offer an entirely different user experience. If you are mainly interested in watching a video and do not need control over what you share on the external display, then digital media streamers will provide the best fit for your needs. But if you need a solution that empowers screen sharing & collaboration during meetings, that works with any content and doesn’t require an internet connection, then you should be looking for a solution that excels at screen mirroring.

Selecting a screen mirroring solution

In practice, selecting a screen mirroring solution may be a daunting task because of the many possibilities from which to choose. Most of the popular streaming devices (Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, …) can be used as a screen mirroring device as well. The question remains however if the screen mirroring capabilities of these devices are sufficiently flexible and robust for professional environments where BYOD (bring your own device) is becoming more and more important.

The overview below provides you with more information on some of the options that you have when it comes to selecting a screen mirroring solution.

 

1. Wired screen mirroring

Wired screen mirroring keeps things simple. All you need is an HDMI cable to connect your computer physically to your TV display. Depending on your laptop connector (mini-HDMI, micro-HDMI or mini-DisplayPort) you may need to buy an appropriate adapter cable to connect to your TV’s HDMI. The same holds if you want to use screen mirroring to share content from your tablet or smartphone screen to your TV display.

 

2. Wired 1-to-many screen mirroring

Crowdbeamer takes wired screen mirroring a big leap forward. Rather than letting you share screen content to a single TV display, crowdbeamer enables you to mirror that content to all portable devices of your audience. All you need is a cable to connect your presentation device to crowdbeamer’s HDMI or VGA input, and you’re ready to go. Crowdbeamer doesn’t impose any limitations on the type of presentation device that you can use. That device doesn’t need to have a particular operating system. It even doesn’t need to be a laptop or a tablet; a digital camera or any other device with an HDMI output works just fine with crowdbeamer.

1 to many screen mirroring with crowdbeamer

Crowdbeamer mirrors the screen of your presentation device and then streams it to all portable devices of your audience using its private WiFi network.

Crowdbeamer mirrors the screen of your presentation device and then streams it to all portable devices of your audience using its private WiFi network. That’s how it brings you all the benefits that come with screen mirroring: sharing any content in real time, accessing private speaker notes with PowerPoint’s or Keynote’s presenter mode, etc.

But what’s truly special about crowdbeamer is that it mirrors your screen content to multiple client devices simultaneously. By sharing information with all members of your audience individually, crowdbeamer provides everybody with a superior experience. All audience members can decide which information to capture or what notes to add, personalizing your content to their needs.

crowdbeamer - a 1 to many wireless screen mirroring device

3. Using Apple TV as a wireless screen mirroring device

Even if the installation of the Apple TV set-top box involves more than just connecting a cable, it remains an easy job. Connect the set-top box to your TV display using an HDMI cable, and then configure access to a WiFi network. Now you can use Apple AirPlay to stream music, video, and photos through Apple TV from your iOS device or Mac computer to the big TV screen.

You can use AirPlay’s mirroring function to display whatever content from your iPad, iPhone or Mac on the TV screen connected to the Apple TV. Apple TV provides a seamless content sharing experience. While working in streaming mode with any AirPlay-enabled app such as YouTube of Netflix, other apps like PowerPoint, Safari or Chrome automatically activate the Airplay mirroring function.

Apple TV 4 as a wireless screen mirroring device

To use Apple TV for screen mirroring, you need to have an iOS device or a Mac computer as a presentation device

The downside of using Apple TV as a screen mirroring device is that you need to have an iOS device or a Mac computer as a presentation device. That may be great if you are an Apple fan, but it also makes Apple TV less suitable for corporate environments where non-Apple devices are used or where BYOD technologies are increasingly gaining popularity. And in contrast to crowdbeamer’s multi-client paradigm, Apple TV will mirror your content only to the one TV display that connects to it over HDMI.

4. Using Google Chromecast as a wireless screen mirroring device

Setting up Google Chromecast is comparable to installing Apple TV. Plug the Chromecast dongle into your TV, connect it to the internet and you’re ready to stream movies from your Android device to your big TV screen at home.

Google Chromecast as a wireless screen mirroring device

Google Chromecast is a great media streaming device, but several limitations make it less suitable for screen mirroring

But when it comes to mirroring the contents of your computer’s screen, it is important to understand that Google Chromecast is essentially a media streaming device that pulls content from the internet and streams it your TV display. It does not directly take any content from your computer or mobile device. To use screen mirroring (or desktop casting as Chromecast calls it), you need to have the Chrome browser installed on your presentation device.

Technically speaking you can use Google Chromecast to mirror your screen to the TV display. But remember that you must have the Chrome browser opened on your presentation device and you need an internet connection. Both limitations make Google Chromecast less suitable as a screen mirroring device. In many practical situations, they even prohibit screen mirroring. 

While Apple TV, Google Chromecast or Windows Wireless Display Adapter remain a good choice for video streaming or picture sharing to your big TV screen at home, the fact that they are not device agnostic makes them less suitable for screen mirroring and collaboration in a business environment.

5. Using Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter as a screen mirroring device

Again, installing the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter is fairly easy. Plug the USB and HDMI from the Wireless Display Adapter into your TV display. Connect your presentation device over the adapter’s peer-to-peer WiFi network and mirror your screen. The Wireless Display Adapter uses Miracast technology, and lets you share the full content of your computer, tablet or smartphone screen on the TV display.

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter as a wireless screen mirroring device

The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter works with devices that are compatible with the Miracast standard, leaving out many popular business devices

Since the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter uses Miracast technology, this screen mirroring device is also limited to presentation devices that are compatible with the Miracast standard. That includes the newer types of Microsoft and Android devices (Windows 8.1 and higher, Android 4.2 and higher). The entire family of Apple products is left out however. And just like Apple TV or Google Chromecast, that also rules out screen mirroring from digital cameras or any other device with an HDMI output.

Particularly in a corporate environment where BYOD is becoming more important or where multiple platforms like MacOS, iOS, Windows, and Android are used, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter does not provide a practical answer to screen mirroring and collaboration needs.

 

The key points

Full screen mirroring
1-to-many screen mirroring
Screen mirroring without internet access
Works with any OS on presentation device Chrome browser must be installed and active
No software installation on presentation device Presentation device must be Miracast compatible

Any of the above wireless solutions (Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Windows Wireless Display Adapter) provides screen mirroring capabilities to some extent. They are mostly easy to use, but all of them are limited to specific devices only or even require internet access. That makes them less suitable for screen mirroring and collaboration in a business environment. But they remain a good choice for video streaming or picture sharing to your big TV screen at home.

Wired screen mirroring solutions like crowdbeamer do not suffer from any such limitations, as they are device agnostic. That makes them the best fit for the information sharing & collaboration needs of modern professionals.

crowdbeamer device for 1-to-many screen mirroring

Crowdbeamer excels at 1-to-many screen mirroring

  • it mirrors the screen of any presentation device that you connect to its HDMI or VGA input (not just laptops, tablets or smartphones, but e.g. digital cameras as well).
  • it shares your screen to all portable devices of your audience.
  • no software needs to be installed on your presentation device.
  • it doesn’t require any internet access.

Any questions or feedback?

Send us a message
Luc MeulewaeterScreen mirroring solutions for professional information sharing & collaboration