Our mobile devices and computers are a major part of our content creation, and content consumption in our lives. Whether it’s a smartphone, a laptop, or a tablet, videos pictures and more will go through it’s screen. Sometimes however, that screen can be just a little bit small for use. Especially in group settings or just when there’s a big TV screen nearby, it would be nice to get your tablet, phone, or computer up on that display. While most devices have this feature built in, not all do. Many rely on other methods or even exclusive methods. However one screen mirroring method called Miracast has become a standard for many Android devices, Windows devices, and more. Unfortnately many Miracast streaming devices are way too expensive for their functionality, but over a couple weeks I’ve been able to try out one that not only breaks the price barrier, but also works pretty awesome.
The ActionTec ScreenBeam Mini 2 is a Miracast dongle that sells for just $40 and provides a good experience even at that low price. Few other options provide such a low price with good quality. Set up is as simple as getting the device out of the box, plugging it into an HDMI port on your TV, and getting out your Miracast enabled device to connect. The first connection will take a bit, but after that it’s a smooth experience. The majority of my testing was with my LG G3 over a 2.4GHz WiFi network. Using this set up I was able to achieve a good connection that gave a smooth mirroring experience. While mirroring your screen can be good for a lot of things including watching movies, looking at pictures, and more, I had two use cases I found very useful.
The first was mirroring my phone and then using the device to play my Spotify playlist. As an avid Chromecast user, many of my TV and movie content took that route, but since Spotify doesn’t support the Chromecast, this was an ideal solution. Audio streamed with no issues at all from my LG G3 even over a few hours of continuous streaming. My other favorite way to use the ScreenBeam Mini 2 was to mirror games. Even while playing fast-paced and high graphics games, the ScreenBeam Mini 2 didn’t skip a beat. I did experience some dropped frames during longer sessions, but overall the experience was pretty good.
I’m not a very avid Windows user, but I did give the ScreenBeam Mini 2 a chance with my Windows 7 laptop. I did need to plug in the included USB dongle to get this working, but after setting it up, the experience was great. Everything was extremely smooth and just worked shockingly good. My PC isn’t exactly low-end, but it had no problems keeping up. Even though our WiFi router was located a pretty good distance away, it still worked just fine.
At $39 the ActionTec ScreenBeam Mini 2 is a very solid device. It has great functionality and it’s price is great. With other options like the Roku Streaming Stick and the Google Chromecast sitting at nearly the same price with much of the same functionality, this is a tough one to recommend to everyone. However there is one set of users I can recommend this to without hesitating, those who rely on mirroring their screens. While the Chromecast and Roku can do this, the Chromecast is somewhat limited to the number of devices and the Roku tends to take a major performance hit. If you use screen mirroring everyday or think you might, this is by far the best pick out of the three. If streaming Netflix and Hulu are your aim, the Chromecast or Roku is probably a better bet however.