Not to be outdone by the recent update to Google Chromecast, Microsoft has decided to refresh its own Chromecast-like device, called the Wireless Display Adapter, making it both smaller and cheaper than the original version.

Microsoft first launched the adapter in 2014. It allows people to display anything on a Miracast-enabled smartphone, tablet, or laptop onto a larger screen, such as a television, wirelessly. The new version will cost $49.95 ($10 less than the original), has a new form factor, and is capable of reducing latency, according to Microsoft. Other than that nothing else has changed.

Hooking up the Wireless Display Adapter is simple. Just plug it into an HDMI port on your TV or receiver, and then plug in the USB for power. The Wireless Display Adapter is just that: an adapter. It doesn't do anything other than wait for something to send it content. It can display content up to 1,920x1,080 and outputs audio at two-channel stereo and 5.1 surround sound.

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Miracast is an industry-wide standard that allows a mobile device, for instance, to discover and connect to another device in order to mirror the contents of one screen to the other. Miracast acts like a wireless HDMI cable and is a cross-platform solution, so it's not limited to Microsoft, any brand, or ecosystem. Google's Chromecast is just one of the many alternatives to Miracast.

Chromecast is an affordable dongle that plugs into your television's HDMI port and uses the Discover-And-Launch protocol. With this setup, you can open an app like Netflix on your Android or iOS device, for instance, and command the app to stream video to your Chromecast over an internet connection from a local wireless router to your television's display.

While that content streams from your mobile device to a Chromecast-equipped television, you're still free to use your mobile device for other purposes and can even control playback of the stream from your mobile device. Unlike Chromecast, Miracast has one major pitfall: it requires your mobile device to stay awake. If it goes to sleep, your television will go dark.

You can read more about Miracast here, and if it's something that interests you more than Chromecast or any other alternative out there, pre-orders for the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter are now live in the US and Canada from Microsoft Store, Best Buy, and Amazon.

It will be available from 1 March.