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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a newbee in this field; please have patience with me; I really tried to find answers myself but couldn't.
I've been using several of Google's ChromeCast dongles for years and thought I more-or-less understood the process. But recently I've been looking for something better, supporting a wider range of formats and apps and also faster. The number of offerings is quite overwhelming; I already ordered 3 devices. I returned all 3 since they didn't do at all what I'd expected. Which makes me think: either I do not understand the matter or the specs of these devices are a hoax.
Or - another possibility - the devices I received are not originals but imitations :)

This is what I know so far. I use a Chromecast, connected to a screen, with my Android phone. An increasing number of apps readily show the 'casting icon'; I tap it, choose the ChromeCast and presto: the ChromeCast directly connects to the source and I see the video on the big screen. (From that moment, my phone only serves as controller; I can use it for other purposes; I can even use another phone to 'take over control' in the middle of a movie.) I totally understand this can only work for sources which the ChromeCast can 'understand' since it has to deal with the original signal.
Only recently I discovered that I can use the ChromeCast to 'mirror' my phone's screen on my TV. It seems this, too, is called 'casting' although it is something entirely different. In particular, I can't see why in this case the receiver would have to 'understand' any 'format', since it just puts my phones' screen on the TV-screen, just like a wireless 'remote screen'.

Sorry for this long winded intro, but here is where my confusion starts.
For example: I bought the Anycast M100 dongle for the great number of formats it supports (for video: AVI / DIVX / MKV / TS / DAT / MPG / MPRG / MOV / MP4 / RM / RMVB / WMV, according to the specs). Also, it promised support for DNLA.
But when trying to use it, I can't get any further then 'screen mirroring' (which in my case won't do at all). Like I explained above, I can't see why 'mirroring' would have anything to do with 'formats' or 'dnla', nor why it would ever require an Internet connection. So what's happening here: are all these 'supported formats' just misleading window dressing with no meaning whatsoever? Something like "This great espresso machine is compatible with all types of music"? And what's with that 'support' of DNLA; what does that even mean? And why is it called a 'casting' device when it's just a 'wireless display'?

Please understand that I am not interested in the 'Anycast' device in particular; it was just my 3rd try. I'd only like to know if I'm maybe overlooking options for 'real' casting as I understand it. And also I'd like to know how to read specs and reviews in the future. I'd be much obliged for any light in this matter.
Mabel
 

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I don't quite get what you're trying to do but my limited knowledge in a nutshell...

Chromecast is what you say it is, both a streamer that can be controlled by smartphone AND a mirror screen option
Anycast (Miracast is what it uses at its core), in my understanding, is ONLY mirror screen option

If you're wanting to play the myriad of file formats, I'd strongly recommend getting a HDMI cable from a PC/MAC/laptop/etc, that will play better than any of the wireless solutions, even Chromecast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your answer, but it doesn't really answer any of the questions I posed. If indeed Anycast is just a 'mirrorring device' as you say, why then this summing up of 'supported formats' in the specs? Do they have any meaning at all?
You say you don't get what I am trying to do, so maybe I didn't explain it clear enough. I want the functionality ChromeCast offers, that is: playing things directly from source on my TV screen or audio system, under control from my smartphone app. I thought this was called 'casting'. The reasons I'm looking for something better then the ChromeCast is that is fairly limited in terms of supported formats. I'd like AC3 (for audio) and TS (for video) to be included.
All of the devices I ordered promised just that, but didn't deliver. So what's going on?
Mabel
 

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What is it that you want to cast that you cannot?

If you have a library of MKV rips/downloads that you want to cast, you'll need something like a Plex server to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
"What is it that you want to cast that you cannot?" Well, everything, as I already descibed.
Again: the devices seem only suited for 'mirrorring' my phone's screen and I'm mightily confused why they mention so many 'formats in their announcements, as these seem to have no bearing at all to 'mirroring'.
By the way: I happen to have a Plex Mediaserver running, but the point of my question was that I can see no way to connect a casting device like AnyCast M100 to it.
Mabel
 

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Like everyone else, I'm not sure what you are trying to cast but as indicated, Chromecast is just that "a casting render device" Chromecast has Google proprietary app support built in. It's communication layer is based on something similar to Miracast but is not exactly the same or alike. Miracast was a basic casting communication protocol (hardly supported by anyone now in more recent devices). It never really caught on so was abandoned. For basic connectivity people mostly use either wifi direct, bluetooth or mirroring like you've discovered because most manufacturers now support these protocols universally on their platforms. To cover all bases you could probably get an Android TV box and then have all of the capability you likely seek in one box. Android TV has most major apps support, it also has Chromecast built in so that you can use your current convention. Google has also recently introduced the Chromecast with Google TV which is essentially the same as an Android TV device with remarketing rebranding and relies more heavily on wifi connectivity - it also comes with a remote control but if you prefer to use your phone to control it, that capability is also still built in.

Android TV boxes mostly assume that you are going to use streaming apps to get your content (much like with Roku, Apple TV or FireTV). Android TV and Roku for sure have casting capability built in
(Apple and Fire likely have as well - it's just that I don't either of those boxes so I can't verify).

DLNA is too a communications protocol that allows digital file access between a DLNA host/server device and a DLNA rendering device. So for Chromecast or any other device to be able to take advantage of DLNA capabilities the DLNA host has to be visible to the DLNA client/renderer. The renderer in your case is a phone and ultimately the Chromecast that the phone forwards to. We would assume that you have some AV files somewhere on a computer in your home and they are being served by a DLNA host/server. You would then use the phone to access the files on the computer and project them via casting capability to your Chromecast or other casting protocol device.

That's a pretty long and seemingly complex way to get something simple done in my opinion, but if it's what you got then I guess you have to work with it. I use Android TV and Roku because since they both have to take up an HDMI slot on my TV/AV Receiver (which in your case is being occupied by a Chromecast or other dongle), I may as well get more functionality out of the deal. So since Chromecast (except for the new one with Google TV built in) doesn't have native apps, to me it is a less useful device. With both Android TV and Roku being cast capable devices and apps built in and having DLNA rendering capability already built in, they seem like more of an all around better performer than just a Chromecast by itself. YMMV

I can still use my phone to either control the Android TV or Roku box as a remote control. Or I can use my phone to cast to either of these boxes like you currently do with your Chromecast, but it's just a lot easier for me to pick up the remote control that came with the box (or in my case a programmable one that has features to control more than just one box) to control it rather than pick up my phone and try to find content to cast.

I hope this helps. If you're trying to do DLNA, I would suggest doing a lot of reading on how to set up DLNA hosting and rendering, paying particular attention to the requirements on devices needed to get it working. It you have a PC with files on it and a decent local area network it likely would be a lot easier and better user interface to set up a true media server instead, like Emby, Plex, Kodi or JRiver. You'll get a much better presentation. But you may have to invest in more hardware to get it done properly so that may preclude you from doing it.

Good luck on whatever you decide.
 

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Ur probably stuck with labels.

Sending a signal, whether video or audio to another device has nothing to do with the FORMATS, that's for the sending device to decode and understand.

DLNA is a different animal than casting.

Everybody including me is confused 'coz all that text but u haven't said what exactly you are trying to do and not working.
 

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Plex can cast to Chromecast right from the phone app...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for reacting! I am somewhat frustrated, though, as noone really tries to answer my question, which can be summarised as "why do devices like the Anycast dongle advertise with support of many 'formats' when they are nothing but 'screen mirroring' devices which have nothing whatsoever to do with 'formats'. Is this mentioning of formats (and dnla) just window-dressing without any real meaning? Or am I missing a trick?".
The answer would be most helpful to me, since I am apparently misreading the specs of these devices and the description of their functionality. This makes me mistrust my understanding of many other devices (e.g. a Android TV box'').

It would not be courteous of me though to not comment on the reactions but I am a bit wary since it was never my intention to discuss these topics and they are - as far as I can see - irrelevant to my question and I really hope the comments below will not cloud the issue.
First of all the question what I am trying to cast. I do not see why this is relevant to my question, but the answer is: anything. With my (old) ChromeCast I can cast MP3's and MP4's from my NAS, movies from Netflix and YouTube, TV-programs etc. etc. But the ChromeCast has some limitations and I looked for something better and more powerful. With the Anycast and the other 'casting dongles' I ordered I don't seem to be able to cast anything at all!
Maybe the term 'casting' is not clear enough since it covers so many technologies. For lack of a better word I'll still use it for the technology I described in my original question.

@edyohome: Indeed I read many articles claiming the Chromecast 'never relly caught on'. But that is debateable; it may be that things look a bit different from the US then from my part of the world (The Netherlands). All of my favourite Android apps support the ChromeCast, e.g. VLC, MediaMonkey, Netflix, YouTube, the apps from (free or paid) TV-channels, etc. And although the original ChromeCast seems to have been 'abondoned' it is still widely sold in Europe; also other brands now use the same 'casting technology' (e.g. Yamaha, Sony etc.)
That makes sense to me, since I can't see a better way; neither in terms of quality nor in user-friendlyness or versatility.

You mention wifi direct and bluetooth, but aren't these just communication channels? Nothing to do with the issue, I'd say.
I do not know what an 'Android TV box' is. I do not know what a 'streaming app' is and "use streaming apps to get your content" seems ambiguous: I use apps to CHOOSE the content, but leave it to the ChromeCast to actually GET the content.

I think I am aware of what DNLA implies. You say "The renderer in your case is a phone and ultimately the Chromecast that the phone forwards to." This may be a misunderstanding: the phone does not 'forward' the signal. It just instructs the casting device where the signal can be found. The signal, then, goes directly from source to the casting device.
The rest of what you say in that paragraph, "We would assume that you have some AV files somewhere on a computer in your home and they are being served by a DLNA host/server. You would then use the phone to access the files on the computer and project them via casting capability to your Chromecast or other casting protocol device." is totally correct; that is what I've been doing for years. Like I said: it's only because of the limited capabilities of the Chromecast that I am looking for something better.

Your most startling statement: "That's a pretty long and seemingly complex way to get something simple done in my opinion". OK, I am very much ready to learn: what setup would be simpler?
In technical terms, I can't see it: what could possibly be simpler then a signal straight from source to a decoder/renderer. And for user-control I can't see it either: what device could be more suited to choose a media source then a smartphone, tablet or PC. The great thing about modern smartphones, tablets etc. is that they give me the best interface for the purpose; very different for searching music from a certain composer on my NAS then for searching for a 'live TV' emission. On my phone, I can pick and choose the best interface.
The alternatives you mention (which I am not familiar with) have always seemed to me both more complicated and also less versatile. Why would it be simpler to have 'apps' built-in the casting device? Isn't the simplest way to install an app to simply download it to my phone from the store? And isn't that the simplest way to keep it updated? Can I even install the apps I use (I mentioned several above) on the casting device? Also, we use a ChromeCast in 3 rooms; I'd hate to have to update them regularly in addition to updating my phone. And I can't see what the advantage would be.
And what would be the advantage of a 'user-interface' on the casting device, let alone a separate 'remote control'?
And last but not least: I use apps for TV-programs (free as well as paid) and I don't see how these can be installed on the devices you mention. (As I understand it, the authorisation needed for DRM-protected content is passed by such apps from my phone to the 'casting device' like ChromeCast to enable it to directly fetch the content.)

Thanks for your advice on DNLA "If you're trying to do DLNA, I would suggest doing a lot of reading on how to set up DLNA". But I am not 'trying to do' DNLA; I have been running and using several Mediaservers through DNLA for many years. I thoroughly tried out Kodi and JRiver and several others; I currently run Plex and MediaMonkey. But that is not my problem at all. (I repeat: my problem is to understand why devices like the AnyCast dongle advertise with the option for access to DNLA sevices, when I can't possibly see a way to even try connecting them to ANY mediaserver.)

@Stephen Hopkins: "Plex can cast to Chromecast right from the phone app..." Yes, wonderful. I use Plex server, I use the Plex app. I cast to my ChromeCast fine. But all that has got nothing to do with my question, afaik.

@MrBobb: "Everybody including me is confused 'coz all that text but u haven't said what exactly you are trying to do and not working". I'm sorry you think so; I thought I had been clear: what I tried to do is using any of the many devices advertised for 'casting' and I can't get them to 'cast' anything. Or at least not in the way I described 'casting' in my original posting.
BUT that was not what my question was about.
I simply want to know why these 'casting devices' advertise with 'support' for a series of 'formats' when all they can do is mirroring my phones' screen, which doesn't require 'support'for any format at all. Is it a hoax or am I missing something - that is my question.

I'd much appreciate further reactions!
Mabel
 

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They advertise the formats they are capable of passing on from your phone to the TV. The best choice was mentioned above earlier. Plug an HDMI cable from a laptop or PC to your TV, use a wireless keyboard with a touchpad "mouse" and you can do anything and everything without having to use your phone. Another option is using the ROKU app on your phone to control a Roku Ultra on your TV. An Nvidia Shield is an Android TV box which should also work for anything you wish to watch or listen to. If you are just wanting to send audio/video from your phone to the TV, then Chromecast is about the only option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@Davenir: "They advertise the formats they are capable of passing on from your phone to the TV." That won't do. As far as I know NONE of these 'formats' are used for mirroring. That's the whole point of my question.
Please understand my question; I am NOT looking for 'general advice' to play my media; that was not at all what my question was about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
@Davenir: let me try to put it more clearly: for the functionality of the device, as I now understand it, ALL the formats mentioned are totally irrelevant.
There ar NO formats 'passed from my phone to the TV".
To me, it seems like a very misleading advertising trick; making me believe it is a 'casting' device while in fact it is only a 'mirroring' device.
 

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What you are asking is what DLNA set out to achive a decade ago which ended up in a hot mess. Samsung probably is the last one still offer some kind of DLNA controller app to cast a video to TV.

If you don't care about screen cast, then you will inevitably need to deal with formats, e.g. are you sending MPEG2, H264 or H265 etc video formats? No, uncompressed video is not possible due to huge bandwidth requirement. Then, on top of that, are you sending AC3, AAC, TrueHD or DTS audio? Can the target device accept any of those formats? These are the things ultimately doomed the DLNA because the standard is so loose than rarely ever work correctly.

Other than that, there is no other industry standard for video casting other than Chromecast from Google (basically only works with internet based media) and Apple AirPlay which in most cases/apps are just screen cast.

It is not as simple as you would think.
 

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Miracast (mirroring) is the "open" industry standard protocol - Roku/FireTV (60-70% of the streaming device market) use it, along with Microsoft/Windows (Windows also supports GoogleCast depending on version/browsers/configuration).

GoogleCast (formerly ChromeCast) (casting & mirroring) is Google's proprietary protocol - Android/AndroidTV based devices use this (exception being FireTV, though GoogleCast/AirPlay receiver apps can be installed on it)

AirPlay2 (casting & mirroring) is Apple's proprietary protocol - Apple (MacOS/iOS) devices use this, along with an increasing number of TV brands (e.g. LG) and streamers (e.g. Roku) using this in addition to their Miracast functionality.

DIAL (casting) is an "open" industry protocol currently managed by NetFlix - NetFlix and YT/YT TV are the apps that primarly use this (on all platforms).

UPnP/DLNA (casting) is an "open" industry protocol described above.

Ideally, you'd want a device/platform that can do all of these & more - in reality you rarely have all of them on one device/platform (without additional hardware/software).

If your TV/streamer/receiving device supports Miracast, youd want a sending device (phone/tablet) with Miracast support (Windows/Android) - or vice versa (sender supports Miracast, get receiver that supports Miracast)

If your TV/streaming/receiving device supports AirPlay2, youd want a sending device (phone/tablet) with AirPlay2 support - or vice versa (sender support AirPlay2, get receiver that supports AirPlay2)

If your TV/streamer/receiving device supports GoogleCast, youd want a sending device (phone/tablet) with GoogleCast support (Windows/Android) - or vice versa (sender supports GoogleCast, get receiver that supports GoogleCast).

Essentially, it all comes down to what you already have and/or what you are willing to get.

You already have (PC/Android phone) with Miracast/GoogleCast/DIAL:

1) Rokus supports Miracast/AirPlay2/DIAL
2) FireTV supports Miracast/DIAL (Googlecast/AirPlay2 with app)
3) TS4K/GCCWGTV/Shield supports GoogleCast/DIAL (Miracast/AirPlay2 with app)

You can also buy a new TV with Miracast/GoogleCast/AirPlay2/DIAL support built-in - depends on the brand model.
 

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If you're just casting, no, there's nothing to install. If you're getting a 2020 Chromecast w/ Google TV, you can also install the Plex app for a full client UI.
 
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100% mirroring any content from mobile device -> TV will not work. It is not a technical limitation, it was shot down by Content protection consortium. That is why we have individual apps deciding what can be mirrored and what requires "secured display device". Qualcom, google, intel, apple all bowed to media companies, by adding "ARM Trustzone" and blocking screen mirroring when playing DRM content. It is done at hardware level.
 

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I don't quite get what you're trying to do but my limited knowledge in a nutshell...

Chromecast is what you say it is, both a streamer that can be controlled by smartphone AND a mirror screen option
Anycast (Miracast is what it uses at its core), in my understanding, is ONLY mirror screen option

If you're wanting to play the myriad of file formats, I'd strongly recommend getting a HDMI cable from a PC/MAC/laptop/etc, that will play better than any of the wireless solutions, even Chromecast.
In your opinion, which one is better? I know the obvious differences, but I'm wondering in terms of user-friendly abilities, picture, anything else really. Let me know what you think, thanks.
 

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In your opinion, which one is better? I know the obvious differences, but I'm wondering in terms of user-friendly abilities, picture, anything else really. Let me know what you think, thanks.
If choosing bwtn Chromecast and Miracast, its Chromecast all the time for me. I have a few around house and perfect for quick streaming.

But if you are looking for better quality picture and sound then none of these wireless work as well as a physical HDMI connection to display device (ie TV or projector)
 

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@edyohome: Indeed I read many articles claiming the Chromecast 'never relly caught on'. But that is debateable; it may be that things look a bit different from the US then from my part of the world (The Netherlands). All of my favourite Android apps support the ChromeCast, e.g. VLC, MediaMonkey, Netflix, YouTube, the apps from (free or paid) TV-channels, etc. And although the original ChromeCast seems to have been 'abondoned' it is still widely sold in Europe; also other brands now use the same 'casting technology' (e.g. Yamaha, Sony etc.)
That makes sense to me, since I can't see a better way; neither in terms of quality nor in user-friendlyness or versatility.
You misread what I wrote. I said the "Miracast" never caught on. Chromecast is widely popular. But as others have already affirmed Miracast is only a "mirroring" protocol. Google has/had much deeper pockets to develop its product and is the reason that it is more than just a mirroring device. As I indicated further in my reply, with Android TV essentially being a Google product, as far as I can tell all Android TV products come with Chromecast (a Google proprietary capability) built in. Which is why I recommended getting an Android TV device as then you would have 3 different capabilities already built in to one device (1) Mirroring, (2) Casting and (3) Streaming apps. If you purchased a Miracast device expecting it to be more capable than a Chromecast device, I'm sure you found out that that was not the case. Of the two Chromecast is the more capable device. I was trying to appeal to you that there are still even more capable devices than the standard Chromecast. In fact, the new Chromecast with Google TV is still even more capable than the standard original Chromecast because it too has Android TV (now known as Google TV) built right in.

Again, good luck in whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish.
 
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