Plugging your laptop into a television or projector is something many of us do on a daily basis. But cords can be as limiting as they are ugly. There are an increasing number of solutions to this, but one that is already built in to many laptops is Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) solution. WiDi allows you to send high definition video and audio to a display wirelessly allowing for completely cable-free presentations and a greater flexibility in computer and display placement.
With Smart TVs becoming nearly ubiquitous now more and more of these displays also bundle in support for wireless display technologies, including WiDi. For those displays that don’t have it built in there are external adapters available for purchase such as the Netgear PTV3000. Plug the external adapter into power and HDMI behind your display and you’re free to move your WiDi laptop to wherever you need it.
We used an HP EliteBook 840 and an LG 50LB6100 Smart TV for this example. Virtually any new computer that includes an Intel processor, Intel HD graphics, and Intel wireless card supports WiDi. A wide variety of Smart TVs also include support for WiDi such as LG, Samsung, and Toshiba. As for projectors, both Epson and NEC have product lines that come with WiDi support. Intel has a short list of devices and product lines that support WiDi here. Although more and more displays support Intel’s Wireless Display, most have the feature disabled by default. Every TV is different, but on our LG model you would open Settings > Network > Miracast/Intel’s WiDi and change it to “On”.
Once this feature is turned on within your display settings, there are only a few steps required to get WiDi up and running:
- Download and run the Intel WiDi Update Tool. It will tell you whether your computer supports Intel WiDi and update any software or drivers needed to get it working.
If your computer’s hardware is not compatible with WiDi, the Update Tool will abort (shown below) and you won’t be able to take advantage of Intel’s Wireless Display technology.
- After successfully running the WiDi Update Tool, you will be able to detect nearby wireless displays within range. If you’re using Windows 7, open the Intel WiDi utility and scan for wireless displays as shown:If you’re using Windows 8.x, open the Charms menu then select Devices > Project > Add a wireless display:
- The first time you connect your computer to a wireless display, you will be prompted to enter a randomly generated 8 digit PIN shown on the external display.
- Once connected, you can disconnect and reconnect using the Intel WiDi/Charms menu. You can manage your wireless display just like any other monitor, cloning or extending the desktop to best suit your needs.
- To manage your displays, right click a blank space on your Desktop and click Screen Resolution. From there you can click the “Multiple Displays” drop down and choose your preferred duplicate (clone) or extend options.
If both your computer and your display have WiDi built in, setup truly can be this simple. But nothing is perfect and sometimes other steps also need to be taken. Here are some of the more common problems you can encounter:
- Software firewalls and behavior monitors can pose a problem with some wireless display adapters. The exact steps vary depending on the software firewall you’re using, but if you’re using the built-in Windows firewall, follow these steps:
- Open the Windows Firewall by going to Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall, or typing “Windows Firewall” into Start Search.
- Click “Allow a program or feature through Windows Firewall”
- If you scroll down, you may find a “Wireless Display” option already present. If so, make sure it is enabled and applied to your network type. If, like above, it is enabled and you cannot connect, click the “Allow another app”
- Click “Browse” and navigate to “C:\Program Files\Intel\WiFi\bin\PanDhcpDns.exe“, then click Add. It will then display in the list above.
- On Windows 7 computers, you will need to repeat steps iii) and iv) to also add “C:\Windows\System32\WUDFHost.exe”
- After you have added that entry, click OK and close Windows Firewall
- WiDi is incompatible with the Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) feature used on some 5 GHz wireless networks. Technically WiDi does not require your laptop to be connected to a wireless access point in order for it to connect to a wireless display, but if you do need to be connected to a wireless network using DFS at the same time, this can pose a problem.There are two options to bypass this: Disable DFS on your wireless access points (usually the less preferable option), or set your Intel wireless adapter to prefer 2.4 GHz networks. The latter option will only be available if there are 2.4 and 5 GHz networks broadcast under the same SSID. Otherwise you would need only connect to your computer a 2.4 GHz network.To set a preferred frequency band:
- Open Network and Sharing Centre from the Control Panel and click Change adapter settings, or simply enter “ncpa.cpl” into Start Search in order to open the Network Connections window directly
- Right click your Wireless Network Connection and select Properties
- Click the Configure button
- Click Advanced > Preferred Band then click the dropdown menu and select “Prefer 2.4 GHz band
- Click OK and close the Network Connections window. Your wireless card will now connect to the 2.4 GHz portion of your network automatically.
Setting up a wireless display takes relatively little effort but can offer a great deal of convenience. Ensuring that you procure WiDi compatible computers and displays will help make display connectivity that much easier and virtually seamless.