Why wireless displays are the next big thing…
Posted: 19th Mar 2012
Wireless displays are almost here
Thanks to the meteoric rise of the media tablet and smartphone, the traditional PC or laptop is no longer the device of choice for browsing the web, checking emails, watching YouTube and so on.
We’ve learned that a smaller, touchscreen device with native apps is far more intuitive for browsing the web.
Soon, however, we’ll be entering yet another new phase in computing, when the screen you’re using is entirely divorced from the device.
It’s all about the content
Wireless display technologies are going to be in almost any piece of tech you buy by the end of the year, and here’s what makes them so important.
Imagine that you’re watching iPlayer on your tablet while sitting on the tube – not a huge stretch of the imagination now that Virgin Media has announced plans to offer free Wi-Fi on the underground.
If you want to watch the end of the show on the big screen when you walk into your house, you’d have to boot up your PC or turn on your Freeview box, open up a browser or On Demand page, find the programme you were watching, wait for it to load and search for the point you’re currently paused at.
If the tablet and TV could only talk to each other, however, you’d be able to beam the picture directly from your handheld device to the television with a simple gesture.
Wireless displays are about more than just enjoying media, though. If you’re working on a document on your laptop, you could beam it to a PC monitor to proof read it, for example. Or if you’re playing a 3D game on your smartphone you could throw it on to the TV just like a games console.
Switch displays without switching devices
Being able to switch displays without switching devices is like having your car transform into an F1 racer when you’re on the motorway, but fold up into your pocket when you want to park it. It’s the last word in convenience, putting you in complete control of what you want to do where you want to do it.
And it’s almost here already.
PC processor manufacturer Intel has been working on a technology called ‘WiDi’ – for ‘wireless display’ – for several years now, but as of later this year almost every new laptop that’s designed around an Intel chip will come with WiDi built in as standard.
Even more exciting, TV manufacturers are starting to include support for WiDi in their sets – meaning you don’t need a PC or set-top box to make use of it.
Apple, for example, allows you to stream your display from an iPad to the TV over your wireless network, but you have to have an Apple TV box first. With WiDi, everything is built in.
Even better, however, is the new feature in Microsoft’s Windows 8 for ‘device sharing’. This may sound rather dry and unexciting, but it allows one tablet or PC running Windows 8 to take control of the screen of another – essentially the same thing as Intel’s WiDi but without requiring a specific TV or processor.
Once wireless display sharing is widely available and out in the open, we’ll see a lot of other uses for it too. Imagine, for example, a trolley with a built-in LCD screen which you can beam your phone’s display to. Very useful if you’re using a tool like Evernote for your shopping lists.
As the technology becomes widespread, you’ll see lots of innovative ways to use it start to appear – most of which we can’t even begin to predict yet. Definitely one to look forward to.
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