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Miracast Woes (continued)

30 Jul

Some time ago I purchased myself a new 3D Blu-Ray player (probably over a year ago) with Miracast built in. When I subsequently acquired my Surface Pro 2 I was, as far as I was aware, ready to go.

Only the Surface couldn’t communicate with the Blu-Ray in either direction. At various points in time the two would see each other momentarily, then just disconnect for no apparent reason.

As time has passed both these devices have had numerous firmware and software updates, which leaves me in the state I’m in today.

Now, the two devices are somewhat more likely to discover each other (although not consistently) and long enough for Windows to “install” the device as a projection target, but after this the devices disconnect again.

Only once have they managed to connect long enough for the Surface to start projecting the screen contents, unfortunately this wasn’t long enough for anything to actually appear on my TV.

I thought it was just me, but reading through several unassociated reports on the web it appears that Miracast is just not ready for prime time – yet.

And this is a problem for Microsoft, even though it’s not of it’s own doing.

Unlike Apple’s AirPlay or Google’s ChromeCast, Miracast is based on open standards. Unlike the other two, Miracast is only just getting to the stage where it is starting to work reliably on new devices with new chipsets. AirPlay and ChromeCast have both been working for a while now.

So what will people choose to use?

I’ve just been sat listening to a couple of people discussing how easy it is to use AirPlay. Everything “just works”.

This almost makes me cringe, after all: What can I use as an alternative. At the moment the answer is nothing really.

I also find it ironic that the Android crowd who constantly bemoan how much better and open Android is (when it isn’t, but more on that another time) rally around their closed alternative.

But then that’s exactly why Apple and Google could get their products working first, by controlling both ends you control the fixes for any issues found and are not so heavily reliant on anyone else.

So by doing “the right thing” and going for an open standard, Microsoft have lost some ground yet again. Of course, I don’t know how much of the problem is down to Microsoft themselves, but since these issues exist with Miracast on other platforms I’d suggest there is an underlying issue there somewhere.

So now I expect the only way I’ll get Miracast working reliably is to sit out the next few months and buy a new device at some point.


Touchy touchy

10 Mar

Several times recently (actually, since it was released) I’ve had people ask me my opinion on Windows 8. It’s always been a case of “I like it a lot, but it’s not without its issues. Overall I prefer it to Windows 7”

It used to be the case that I would almost be told that my opinion was wrong and that Windows 8 was in actual fact a bag of balls, usually by people who had read about it but not used it for more than a few minutes in PC World (if at all).

I have started to see the negative attitudes soften recently, but the response since I’ve had my Surface has been “Well you’re using it with a touchscreen”

True, sometimes. On the train, taking notes in stand-ups, etc. but mostly I use the surface as a regular set-up with mouse, keyboard and either one or two monitors connected. This is just a natural set-up for me, especially when doing productivity work or coding.

My Work Setup

I guess I use the surface in a conventional configuration about 75% of the time (if not more) as I’m mostly using it for, or at work.

So how well does this set-up work for me?

Fine. In fact I’m impressed with some of the multi-monitor control in Windows 8.1, although less impressed with some of the scaling issues on older desktop software, but it’s an irritant rather than a deal breaker. Other than that I’m happy to have the choice between modern and desktop apps. For me modern apps work well with a mouse, and if intelligently written the layout on a large monitor is used well.

Again, I’ll say it’s not perfect, but it is as good as Windows 7 in many ways, and in others it’s better. But that’s just me, I went in not so sure but with an open mind as I like new shiny things.

Oh, and all those additional cables and extra mice in the photo – there are multiple desktop only machines under my work desk. I’m not currently using them, why would I?

Killing A Surface Pro 2

11 Dec

In my previous post, Killing Windows 8, I wrote about how I had managed to de-activate the copy of Windows installed on my Surface Pro 2, and how I was waiting for a response from Microsoft customer support.

Yesterday I contacted them and they called me back with an update.

Apparently the Windows key had not been injected into the BIOS of my device, so the only way to rectify this issue is to replace the device.

That’s right – they couldn’t send me a new key to activate Windows.

Nope, only a new device will do.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly mind. It’s a little inconvenient, but hardly the end of the world. But really Microsoft, if this really a cost effective way of fixing this problem, after all a new key for Media Center only costs $10, significantly less than the UPS shipping alone I suspect.

Still, I suppose if it is a manufacturing problem this is for the best.

Perhaps my lack of success with Miracast will be resolved too?

Never mind.