We reviewed the iPazzPort iPazzCast NC-812-16C back in December 2013. Now, iPazzPort has come up with a new updated version of the original iPazzCast with the model number NC-812-16H. At first glance, the new iPazzPort Cast looks very similar to the older model. It features the same pop-up WiFi antenna and slider switch that slides out the HDMI port. Most of the improvements are on the inside and the user interface has been changed to be make it more user friendly.

In terms of standards support, the new iPazzPort Cast remains the same. It supports the 3 most popular wireless video streaming standards used by mobile devices to get media transferred from your device to a big screen flat TV. These are DLNA, MiraCast and AirPlay. Of the 3, DLNA is the oldest standard and it is most widely supported. Both iOS and Android devices support DLNA, even the older devices. However, it is also the most limited in terms of features.

MiraCast is the new standard used by Android devices and is often touted as the AirPlay killer. Support is still limited at the moment to newer devices but it is slowly but surely gaining. Last but not least, AirPlay is of course the standard used by iOS devices and it is very popular and has lots of support from the accessories manufacturers.

With support for all 3 standards, the iPazzPort Cast does seem like a handy and very portable gadget to get quickly get content from your smartphone or tablet displayed on a much bigger screen so that it can easily be shared with a bigger audience of friends and family.

First Impressions

As mentioned earlier, the new iPazzPort Cast looks very much like the older one. If you unfamiliar with the older iPazzPort Cast, think of it as a slightly oversized USB flash drive. Or if you are familiar with the pocket sized Android Mini PC devices (or sometimes referred to as Android TV stick), it has striking similarities. Of course, the iPazzPort Cast works nothing like a USB flash drive or an Android Mini PC although it does share some functions.

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On the device is a tiny plastic flap that flips up when the slide the HDMI connector switch. This flap is actually the WiFi antenna. The HDMI connector is a full-sized one that you can plug in directly to your LED TV’s HDMI port. Since the body of the iPazzPort Cast is a little bulky, it might get in the way of under HDMI connectors so iPazzPort has thoughtfully included a short HDMI extension cable. Just plug that to the TV instead and connect the iPazzPort Cast to the other end.

On the other end of the HDMI connector is a micro-USB port that is used to power up the device. A USB cable is included for this purpose. The tricky part is that you have to remember to connect the USB cable to the iPazzPort Cast first before sliding out the HDMI connector. Otherwise, it is pretty difficult trying to connect the USB cable and the power port gets hidden by the sliding cover. iPazzPort could have easily fixed this by moving the power port to the side.

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To set up the iPazzPort Cast, just plug the HDMI connector to either the TV or the extension cable. And then, power up the unit by connecting the USB cable to a USB port on the TV if it has one or to a USB power adapter if it doesn’t. iPazzPort has not included a power adapter like they did with the older model.

iPazzPort iPazzCast Performance

Up till this point, the new iPazzPort Cast NC-812-16H is pretty much the same as the older model. It is only after you plug it in and turn the TV on that you begin the see the differences.

We first started out by running the iPazzPort Cast in the Miracast mode. This is because the unit was set to this mode when we received it. We are not sure if this is the default mode for all units right out of the box but you will know which mode the device is set to by looking at the TV display.

There is some setup required to get your smart device to work with the iPazzPort Cast but it does come with a manual. The manual is actually quite detailed with lots of diagrams and fairly clear instructions. You do have to have at least some elementary knowledge on your mobile device’s operating system such as getting to the settings screen and connect to a different WiFi AP point for example.

There is one issue with the manual though. It is quite tiny and the text and diagrams can look quite faint. Reading this without near perfect eyesight might be a challenge.

Setting up Miracast should not pose too much of a challenge to most users. It does involve connecting to the iPazzPort Cast’s WiFi AP, making a few setup changes and connecting the iPazzPort Cast to your home WiFi network including keying in the WiFi password. All this is done via your smartphone or tablet.

Once the setting is complete, you will immediately see your device’s display mirrored on the TV. The display will rotate accordingly for portrait and landscape. There is a split second lag between the phone and the TV. Not an issue under most circumstances such as viewing photos, watching video (audio and video are still in sync) or browsing the web. However trying to play games using the TV is not so pretty. Besides the lag, video can become choppy or distorted for fast moving games. In our opinion, the iPazzPort Cast is not really suited for games other than really simple ones.

As for watching video, we tried with a local source video, played directly from the phone’s storage, and also watching a Netflix video on the TV. In both cases, the video initially suffers from bursts of pixelization but eventually it smooths out. However, it still occasionally had very brief pauses though it is not bad enough to distract us from enjoying the movie.

Moving the playing device such as waving the phone around causes problems for the video playback. On the other hand, while there is a maximum distance limit between the phone and the TV, the quality did not really suffer when we moved the phone from right next to the iPazzPort Cast to about 8 feet away from the TV. What mattered was not to move the phone around. This is of course difficult to do when using the phone as a controller for playing games.

Fortunately, phone movement is not that much of an issue when using Miracast for web browsing or even photo viewing. It probably has something to do with the amount of data being transmitted when watching high definition video.

Next, we tried the DLNA mode. Switching to DLNA mode requires pressing the mode toggle button on the side of the iPazzPort Cast. The good thing is that the iPazzPort Cast uses the same settings that we have entered earlier so it is not necessary to set up the device again for use under DLNA model.

DLNA is more limiting compared to Miracast as it does not support mirroring your display on the TV. In fact, apps have to specifically support DLNA in order for you to make use of it. Fortunately, there are many free apps you can download that does have support for DLNA if your current apps do not.

However, playing a local video using DLNA seems to be more stable compared to using Miracast. We could not compare with streaming video because DLNA does not support streaming video. However for locally stored media that is supported, DLNA worked very well and we preferred DLNA to Miracast.

Conclusion

The iPazzPort Cast is perfect as a portable and very handy device for sharing photos and short video clips you shot using the phone or tablet’s video cam. It works with just about any display device with a HDMI port. Imagine if you want to share photos and videos with a group of friends or family members in the living room either your own or someone else’s. All you have to do is connect the iPazzPort Cast to the TV and you can start sharing with just a few clicks on the phone.

The iPazzPort Cast can be used for other things including browsing the web or even as we did, watch Netflix on a non-internet connected flat TV. However, the experience is not perfect and there are glitches that may prevent you from enjoying your movie. Whether you would want to use the iPazzPort Cast for such purpose may depend a lot on your tolerance level. For us, we think that it may be a great way to watch Netflix on a hotel TV for example.