With Miracast, Nvidia’s Tegra 3 enables wireless displays

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Piping digital media from a tablet or smartphone to a large screen is going to get easier thanks to Miracast, the new Wi-Fi Alliance specification that is similar to Apple’s AirPlay. Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip is the latest to support Miracast technology, which should be seen in products within the coming months; the Wi-Fi Alliance plans to start product certifications soon.

By supporting the Miracast standard directly in the Tegra 3 platform, devices using Nvidia’s silicon will be able to easily stream media wirelessly to Miracast-certified displays. There should be minimal setup and configuration for tablets, smartphones and displays all on the same Wi-Fi network. But it’s not just videos and photos that Tegra 3 devices will stream to big screens; check out this demo showing off how a Tegra 3 tablet can be mirrored to a television and console-quality games can be played on an HDTV with no wires involved:

While other chipmakers, such as Texas Instruments, have already announced Miracast support, I suspect wireless gaming and low-power consumption will be the way Nvidia tries to differentiate its wares. In its press release, the company mentions wireless video streaming, but then adds more detail around gaming:

We’re not just talking about flinging Angry Birds but racing a super-charged jet ski in the game Riptide THD and playing heart-pounding first-person shooter games like Shadowgun THD. You can even take mobile gaming to the next level by pairing a Tegra device with a console controller for the ultimate wireless display experience.

It’s a clever approach as the Tegra 3 and its dozen GPUs can power through high-resolution graphics like a snowplow hustles through just an inch of snow. Gaming on a Tegra 3 device shows more detail and improved physics simulations than on most other tablets and smartphones I’ve used that run on competing chips. If you can get that experience on the large screen with little lag and without any setup hassles or crazy wiring schemes, it’s added value, in my opinion.

We’ll be hearing much more about Miracast in the coming months, of course, but its development reminds me of something I said at the Consumer Electronics Show back in January 2011. Ironically, it was at an Nvidia demo where I noted that the mobile devices of today were becoming the set-top boxes of tomorrow thanks to high-definition video output. This continuing trend is being enhanced with gaming too, and clearly Nvidia’s Tegra 3 plans to be part of this movement.

On a related note, I have to wonder if Miracast is the solution Google TV will use for its own Airplay-like functionality? There’s no need for Google to reinvent the wheel here, so I’m guessing yes.

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