iPazzPort iPazzCastThe iPazzPort iPazzCast is a sort-of-new category of device that lets users cast or transmit primarily multimedia content from a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet to a TV. The technology has been around for  quite some time now and there are many competing standards such as DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), Miracast, WiDi (Wireless Display) and AirPlay, among others. However, these wireless media transmission protocols are not widely known or used except maybe for Apple’s AirPlay which has quite significant support from the accessories manufacturers.

The other significant boost in popularity for such devices is Google’s Chromecast. While the Chromecast has popularized such devices but in actual fact, it does not really fall into this category of wireless content transmission. This is because the Chromecast only uses the smart device to control what is displayed on the TV. The actual content is downloaded directly from the internet through the Chromecast’s WiFi connection. That means that streaming local content from the smart device is not supported. There are hacks that allow local streaming and there are rumors that Google may eventually allow local streaming but for now, it is not officially supported.

First Impressions

The iPazzPort iPazzCast looks a lot like an Android Mini PC or TV stick. In fact it looks like it is based on iPazzPort’s own NC-19A Android Mini PC. It has the same flip-up antenna and the sliding HDMI connector. It is also powered via a micro USB port that is located on the opposite end of the HDMI connector. The package comes with a short HDMI extension cable and a USB power adapter. The iPazzCast is supposed to be connected to one of the HDMI ports on the TV but sometimes it may not be able to do so because the ports may be located close together and the the other HDMI wires may get in the way. This is where the HDMI extension cable comes in handy.

You can power the iPazzPort iPazzCast by connecting the supplied power adapter to the device or you can power it using a USB port on the TV itself. However, iPazzPort recommends powering it via the included adapter but there is an advantage if your TV’s USB port is able to power it up. You don’t have to switch off the iPazzCast separately. Whenever you turn off your TV, the iPazzCast gets switched off as well.

iPazzPort iPazzCast Performance

First of all, while the iPazzCast looks a lot like an Android Mini PC, it is not one and it doesn’t function like one. All it does is to act as a wireless HDMI cable between your smart device and your TV. It supports the 3 most popular standards, DLNA, Miracast and AirPlay. This means that it should work with just about any of the tablets and smartphones out there. It should even work with computers running Windows or MacOS. Furthermore, most of the newer smart TVs already do support DLNA out of the box.

iPazzCast TV

However, if you have an older TV that does not support DLNA or any of the other wireless transmission standards, this is where the iPazzCast comes in.

All you have to do is connect to your TV and power it up. I did encounter a little problem connecting it to my TV. First of all, I need to connect the USB cable to the device first. This is because sliding the HDMI connector out also retracts the USB port into the housing which makes it rather difficult to plug in the USB cable. The other problem I encountered is that it is not easy to connect the HDMI connector to the TV either. This is because the connector tends to slide back into the housing as you push in the connector. You need to firmly hold the slider switch as you push in the connector to prevent this from happening. The pop-up antenna and sliding HDMI design make look a little fancy but in practice, it is not user friendly. Luckily, you only need to do this once during setup.

There is one other button on the iPazzCast and this is the Miracast/DLNA selection button. You can either use the button to switch between the 2 modes or the mode can also be selected via software. This is a good thing as groping behind your TV every time you need to change the mode would be bad.

DLNA is probably the most widely supported standard but it is also the most limited. Applications that support DLNA allows you to search for other devices that will allow you to transmit audio or video to. Once found, you can just select the device and the content will appear on the TV.

In DLNA mode, the iPazzCast provides the instructions on how to connect your smart device to the iPazzCast using WiFi. However, the process is not exactly simple and it does involve quite a few steps entering passwords and accessing the iPazzCast web based setup page using a web browser. Users who are not familiar with keying in IP addresses into a web browser would probably be lost at this stage.

iPazzCast DLNA setup

However, once it has been setup, using it is easy IF you know which apps support DLNA. This again can be a bit tricky but it is not the fault of the iPazzCast. Most people probably never realize that their device or apps have support for DLNA. On Android, apps that support DLNA has an option to scan for nearby devices. For example, the default video player app on my Samsung Galaxy phone supports DLNA and allows me to use it by just tapping on an icon on the screen. I can then control the video playback on the TV using my phone.  Alternatively, you can download the iMediaShare app for free from the Google Play store. This app allows you to share photos, music and videos via DLNA.

What DLNA doesn’t do very well is to stream content from the internet to the TV. There are apps that adds this function but DLNA is generally better suited for sharing local content on the device itself.

Miracast on the other hand goes beyond DLNA’s limitation. Basically, Miracast allows you to mirror your device’s screen on the TV. If you have ever tried connecting a TV to your smart device using a HDMI cable, this is what Miracast does but without the cable. Setting up Miracast on the iPazzCast is a little different and again it should be a little more user friendly.

The screen mirroring function allows Miracast to be used for browsing the web using the TV as the display and your phone as the controller and keyboard. It can also be used to cast apps that don’t support DLNA like watching Netflix or Hulu Plus on the TV. The process of using Miracast is much easier compared to DLNA as it deosn’t require the app to specifically support Miracast. It can even be used for playing some games. There is a limitation to playing games because there is lag when using Miracast. The lag may not be a concern when web browsing or watching videos but renders most quick action games unplayable.

The only limitation to Miracast is that not many devices currently support Miracast. Devices older than a year probably do not have support for Miracast. A list of supported devices can be found here.

Conclusion

The iPazzPort iPazzCast is a neat way to share media on the TV. With it, you can easily share your just taken photos and videos on your smart device and let everyone see them in full HD on your TV instead of passing the phone to everyone around the room and watching it on a tiny screen. It has support for DLNA, Miracast and AirPlay so it should work with most of your smart devices and you are not tied to just one operating system or brand.

However, there is a little technical know how required to set up and to use the device. Technophobes may find the iPazzCast a little too challenging to use but those who are comfortable with such devices will find lots of uses for it.

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