Mirror your phone on a bigger screen with an App Supported Plug-n-Play cable.

For those that are not tech-savvy, trying to get your phone to link to your television can seem daunting.  My mother-in-law wanted to play videos from her Android-based phone on her television, and my wife requested that I help her with this.  Her goal was to play movies for the grandkids and to play workout videos.  She wanted a setup that could allow her to see the videos to interact with them more easily.  Thanks to the power of Amazon, we found the MiraScreen device.  

Unboxing

The Mirascreen USB to HDMI Cable Dongle arrived in a 8 3/8 inches tall by 6 1/4 inches wide plastic bag. The dark blue upper half of the bag had a light-blue circuit design and a classy “POWER YOUR LIFE” motto.  The lower half of the bag had a clear window, which allowed me to visualize my new device.  As a lover of technology, I appreciate this method of product display.  More than a simple flat image, this setup provided a deeper understanding of what I actually purchased.  The bag’s reverse surface duplicated the circuit appearance along the top half, ink-outline images of a computer, laptop, gaming console, camera, and connecting cables along the middle.  Along the bottom, you will find two short paragraphs.  First, they provided a cautionary warning to discard the plastic to avoid suffocation risk for children safely.  Secondly, they provided information that they used recycled materials in their product packaging.  

I found a bilingual eight-panel instruction manual within the packaging and a 3 inches long by 1 inch wide HDMI adaptor with two black-braided cables jutting from the neck.  The first cable was a 37 3/4 inches long USB-A power cable.  The second cable was a 77 inches long USB-micro cable with a micro-USB female to USB-C adapter.  The braided cables had strong/secure neck junctional segments and well designed USB-A/USB-micro ends.  I gripped each end prong to test each end and bent each cable 25 times forward/backward and side to side.  I gripped the end caps, tugged firmly, and was pleased with the design’s structural integrity.  The USB-C adapter fit snuggly over the micro-USB end and remained secure after numerous on-off cycles.  Similarly, the HDMI prong proved to be equally robust and survived the same testing as above.  

Utility

Before using the cable, I turned to the English side of the bilingual instruction manual.  The main panel provided a nice paragraph detailing the plug-and-play mirroring capabilities of the MiraPlug device and the promise of eliminating complicated settings.  The best part of the manual was the hardware installation diagram located just beneath the intro paragraph.  To summarize the diagram, start by plugging the HDMI into your television/monitor and then the USB-A cable into a power brick (5V/1A).  Some televisions have powered USB ports, which may suffice to provide power to this device.  The Amazon instructions recommended against the use of these ports and encouraged the use of another power brick.  Unless your power outlet is near your television, the cable may not be long enough to reach a surge protector or outlet. Luckily, I found that I was able to use the USB-A port on my television. Once the HDMI/USB-A port was plugged in, I plugged the micro-USB cable into the phone micro-USB port.  Once plugged in, the phone will alert you that the App was not found and needed to be downloaded.  We had hoped that the device would have a non-App feature, but it required the App to mirror. Luckily, the setup/utility required very little investment beyond the initial setup.

At first, I was concerned that my mother-in-law would not do well with the App setup.  However, once I set this up for her, it was much easier than we had thought.  You could download the App directly by reading the QR code on the television, or you could follow the prompts on the Android device once you plugged in the micro-USB.  The Android phone instructed that I download the MiraPlug App, and I followed the prompts through the Google Play Store download. I elected to “Always open MiraPlug when MiraPlug is connected,” and then chose “Don’t show again” to “MiraPlug will start capturing everything that’s displayed on your screen.”  After a few seconds, the MiraPlug device mirrored the screen and outputted sound through the television speakers. Rotating the phone into landscape mode, I found that the device would output and fill the screen.  The picture was crisp, clear, and met the needs of my mother-in-law.  

Summary

The sound output was good, the connection was secure and the setup proved to be quite easy.  We were able to play videos through the internet, videos and photos captured by the native camera App on the phone, we could search the web with web browsers, and we could watch movies on the services supported by the device.  Some of the paid services did not transmit video, as mentioned on the product page (names removed for the review, please see the product description).  To summarize, the setup may take a little more tech know-how than the average grandmother can muster.  In that case, turning to the younger generations may be their best choice.  If your TV has smart features, this device may not be needed.  However, if you have an older TV or want to play something from your phone onto the television, this may be a reasonably simple way for you to mirror your smaller screen onto a much larger one.  The output was remarkably crisp and the TV picture looked as good as the one on the phone screen.  I liked that I could remove the phone, plug it back in and the App would start to work behind the scenes, with minimal need for tech support from myself.  I do believe that it fulfilled our needs and worked as promised/intended.