For those who want to see Netflix and Amazon Prime in one same casting device!
Reviewed in the United States on 23 January 2019
First off, let me tell you - sometimes less is more and this is a perfect example why!
I am a seasoned video/techy guy and as such I spent a lot of time researching about all kinds of dongles to use on my non-smart flatscreen on my RV to watch movies when the weather is simply not agreeable to explore the outdoors. Case in point: we just spent a weekend getaway in Texas below 20 degrees... there are no ski lodges here, so camping out in that weather is not something family appreciates - what do you do? Yep - cook, watch a movie and relax!
Onto the device: I compared this against 4 other devices: Google Chromecast, Roku Stick, Amazon Firestick and Microsoft Digital Screen Adapter. This guy was the winner by far!
Onto the Strengths:
1) Simple as it gets - it is a stick, like a USB drive only bigger, and instead of having a male USB connector, it has a male HDMI plug so you just stick it into the TV to one of the HDMI input slots. On the side, the Mini2 device has a micro-USB slot (a micro USB slot is like the USB slots on Samsung android devices). That slot is used to power the stick - it can be powered using the provided USB cable and USB charger connected to the wall... OR.... you can connect the cable to the USB slot in the back of your TV provided it has one. Mine did so installation was super clean, no cables anywhere to be seen except on the back of the TV a small USB cord that was zip tied to be concealed. Done! No SW configuration, no WI-FI configuration, nothing else to do, plug and play!
2) Interface - as I mentioned - less is more. This thing has no operating system, there are no apps, no channels to be installed, all it does is that it connects to your phone so you can mirror your screen - what you see on the phone you see on the screen. Every single app - from email, gallery, videos, amazon prime, Netflix, Spectrum TV, DirecTV, NFL, you name it, I have it, it plays! Even games! Though look at one of the not-so-cool items on the list down below.
3) In order to connect your screen to your phone simply look for the "smartview" option on your phone settings, same where you toggle your wifi on/off. Better yet, if you have a Wi-Fi direct setting you can also see it there. Now I know I said you don't need a WiFi, so why in the world am I saying WiFi-direct? well because those are not the same! WiFI is the feature that allows your phone to connect to any broadcast signal via the, well, WiFi channel (trying not to get techy here). The WiFi direct, on the other hand simply connects to other devices using a direct connection (called miracast protocol) which is the same protocol the all other dongles use. This just connects your phone directly to your Mini2, the screen says "Magic is about to happen" and boom! your screen is up - takes less than 5 seconds to see your phone in the TV.
4) Once connected, your phone is the limit - fire up any app and you will see it on the screen.
1) Google chromecast only allows to show your screen from within the apps that supports chomecast, which means some of your apps will not show in the screen. Another MAJOR drawback is that Chromecast cannot play Amazon Prime videos - that's a big NO NO for the Amazon crew and I get it - they want us to buy the Firestick and that's all good... still this was not going to cut it for me. My criteria was to show ANY Content I DECIDE to show in my TV. Mini 2 wins here.
2) Amazon firestick does not play with Google Play movies in return - it shows Amazon prime but not other playes - again a big NO NO for me. Mini 2 wins here.
3) Roku - requires WiFi to configure and a few hacks to play - again, too much hassle, mainly the fact you must get internet WIFI to set it up and pretty much do anything. I love ROKU and I rave about those devices (My review on Roku in Amazon is still the top review in that product, btw!) but for this particular application, Roku was not "it". Mini2 wins.
4) Microsoft Screen Display - works under the same concept as the Mini2 and that was my first choice, but I learned that Microsoft forces you to download the greatest updates to their device, which again, requires internet, etc. and some of my TVs did not work. Microsoft acknowledges that not all devices work, so I guess some of the ones I have were not supported. Though Microsoft's device also plays ALL content, again Mini 2 won the battle due to the configuration that's needed. I also did some side by side playback of the movies and the Microsoft device seemed to lag a little more than the Mini2 so that was the cherry on top for the Mini2.
Now not all is sweet and there are some "Not-so-cool" things to consider when you have a device like this.
1) This is meant to mirror your screen - it has no applications or channels to be downloaded - if that is not what you want, this is not for you then. Simplicity, stability, perfection - that's the name of the song here.
2) Screen mirroring EATS up battery! So you need to keep your phone plugged if you don't want to run out of battery while watching a 2 hour movie.
3) The higher the resolution the more information that needs to travel between your phone and your Mini2 - which means the screen may lag a little bit. I noticed that for standard HD Content, streaming was flawless, but for UHD, the Mini2 lacks speed - in reality the speed is not the Mini2 hardware issue, but rather the over-the-air communication protocol - not meant to support UHD. So keep your resolution as standard in Netflix or "good" in Amazon prime and you'll be golden. Youtube is not a problem - 99% of the people who load up their videos are not true HD anyways. Streaming direct over your cell phone data will fail before your Mini2 does - so if you are fixated on watching UHD videos on this device, using your phone data service will be your drag. Again, know what you're shopping for. If UHD is what you must have, look elsewhere.
4) Games - that's another NO-NO for the Mini2. The games are fast and the screen mirroring will have a natural delay if you see your phone screen side by side with your TV - again, it may not sound like much but your phone needs to compress the video signal, wave it through the air, then the Mini2 needs to capture the radio waves, decode them and project the image - that takes time and therefore some games may lag more than what you want. If you ware playing slow games then that's not a problem - but then again - there are other videogame options to play on the big screen anyways.
Hope you like my review!!! If you do please mark it as such! Happy streaming!
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