The Best Wireless Monitors (and Accessories) – November 2018
We live in an increasingly wireless world, where cables and cords are quickly beginning to go extinct for millions of users. The new iPhone X you just picked up no longer has a headphone jack, with the alternative being AirPods or other Bluetooth-friendly headphones, and considering the addition of wireless charging, you aren’t sure how much longer your Lightning port will be here to stay. When you want to playback content on your television, you turn to your phone to use Airplay or Chromecast to beam Stranger Things or The Handmaid’s Tale from your phone to your tablet, instead of getting up to plug your laptop into a device. The PS4 can stream wirelessly to a Playstation Vita if you happen to have one lying around, and for PC gamers, Nvidia’s GameStream allows you to use your gaming PC to stream to your laptop, tablet, or television to play wherever you need to be.
In this world of wireless technology, one piece of the puzzle seems to remain that doesn’t make quite as much sense. Everyday, millions of people use computer monitors with their laptops to display content on their screens at larger sizes, which makes it far easier to produce visual content, like photo manipulation or video editing. Others use external monitors as a way to add a second screen to your setup, keeping utilities and tools on wide side of the setup while using your mouse to work between the two displays. Both MacOS and Windows 10 handle external and additional displays well, allowing power users to change the settings of each display while simultaneously keeping it easy for anyone with a computer to plug and play without frustrations.
Unfortunately, there’s one problem: that pesky HDMI cable still exists. HDMI is a solid standard, with support for video and audio over a single cable, but sometimes you just want to wirelessly transmit your display from your laptop to a second monitor or television without the hassle. Finding the HDMI plug on the back of the monitor, plugging the other end to your laptop, making sure the cable isn’t in the way of the other products on your desk—it’s all a hassle. Even if you’re just trying to stream your computer to a television, it can be a real pain to find a way to do it wireless without resorting to some frustrating hacks.
So, let us be your guide into this brave new world. Wireless monitors are slowly becoming a viable product on the market, which means there are real products online today you can pick up that have wireless capabilities built directly into them. Unfortunately, the display market as a whole has been slow to adapt to the wireless future, instead remaining steadfast in their hopes of a wired world. Here’s the good news: in addition to a lineup of wireless markets, there’s a decent selection of aftermarket products that can help turn your monitor or display into a fully-wireless product, able to mirror or stream your computer display on a larger screen without dealing with wires. Whether you want to spend a few hundred dollars on a new wireless monitor, or you’re looking for an adapter to turn your existing monitor into a wireless one, we have you covered. Here’s our guide to the best wireless monitors and products on the market for November 2018.
Originally launched in 2016, Dell’s lineup of wireless monitors remain the best on the market, two of the only monitors currently worth recommending when looking for the best screens with wireless already built in. It might seem a bit unfair to really only recommend Dell’s products on the market for actual monitors, but even in 2018, they’re the only company really innovating on this front. When it comes to buying the best wireless monitor on the market today, it’s hard to recommend a better product than Dell’s 23″ model in their Wireless Connect line, the Dell S2317HWi. Originally announced at CES 2016 and launched in the summer of 2016, the S2317HWi remains one of the best products you can buy today for streaming from your PC or mobile device, a monitor largely ahead of its time.
Before we take a look at the wireless capabilities of Dell’s product here, it’s important to first primarily consider the monitor as just that: a monitor. Unlike receivers on this list, the Dell lineup of wireless monitors actually have something to prove in terms of display quality, color reproduction, responsiveness, brightness, and more. It isn’t enough for a monitor just to be wireless—it has to be a good monitor. So, the ultimate question is: does Dell’s monitor fit the bill?
Yes and no. The S2317HWi uses a 23″ 1080p IPS panel, which means you shouldn’t expect the highest pixel density you’ve ever seen from a display. 4K panels are becoming more and more prominent, but at this price range, you’re going to struggle to find one that fits the bill. Despite the age of the panel, the display itself looks stunning, with a thin-border appearance around the top, left, and right edges of the body and a thicker bottom panel which houses the components for the actual display (unlike the bezelless AMOLED displays we’ve seen on phones like the Galaxy S9 and the iPhone X, LCD displays need to house those components somewhere). The display isn’t very bright, unfortunately, with a peak brightness of just 250cd/m2, but since you won’t be taking the monitor outside, it should work in a normal office setting. As far as the actual material of the display, it’s a bit glossy overall, with a reflective finish on top of the screen.
Color reproduction is solid, but the actual accuracy of the colors is a bit off. Anyone using the display to watch a movie or just generally surf the web will likely find it acceptable, but if you’re looking to do some visual work on the monitor—be it video production, photo editing, or graphic design—you might want to skip this one. It’s a general monitor, not one designed for accurate color reproduction, and the price represents that. The hue generally skews green on the device, but blues and reds are generally well-represented. Response time is solid, especially for a monitor not designed for gaming.
When it comes to actual physical ports (we’ll talk about the wireless capabilities in a moment), the monitor includes a single HDMI input, two USB 2.0 ports, an audio output jack, and…that’s it. VGA support isn’t here, but the worst part comes from the lack of USB 3.0 ports. We’ll forgive the lack of USB-C ports for a monitor released in 2016, but the lack of USB 3.0 ports is ridiculous. Those ports were common on monitors sold three years prior to Dell launching the product, and the lack of support here is surprising and disappointing.
Okay, let’s talk about the wireless aspects of the device. The S2317HWi uses two different wireless methods to help improve your daily workflow. The first, Wireless Connect, is the monitor’s wireless capabilities for transmitting a signal from your laptop to the monitor. The monitor has support for two devices at once with the capabilities to display your smartphone and your PC display wirelessly at once. This means you can essentially use a picture-in-picture mode with your phone and your computer at once, allowing both devices to display overlapping each other. There are some restrictions, however, especially when it comes to the smartphone mirroring.
- To wirelessly display your PC, you’ll need a PC running Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 using at least 4th generation Intel i5 or i7 processors. Some users have complained that their older computers have been unable to properly render the wireless display when using the monitor in day to day use, so your mileage may vary (if your laptop has WiFi direct, you should be good to go). If your laptop uses MacOS or Chrome OS, you’re out of luck here, as the monitor only supports mirroring from Windows devices.
- To wirelessly mirror your smartphone, you’ll need an Android device running Android 5.0 or above. That isn’t the hard part, however; the hard part is finding a modern Android phone that supports Miracast. While Miracast (the WiFi Alliance’s own mobile wireless display standard) was popular in the early 2010s, Google’s launch of Chromecast and the Cast and Home standard in 2013 has led to a downturn in Miracast’s inclusion on newer devices. Likewise, iOS devices are completely left in the dark here.
Still, setup on your PC for wireless streaming is actually pretty easy. Download the Dell Wireless setup application on their page, install it onto your device, and then select Wireless using the input button on the monitor. You’ll see your display begin to appear on the screen, and you can easily view and control your computer wirelessly on the monitor. We wouldn’t recommend using the monitor wirelessly for gaming PCs, as you’ll likely find response time for games like Overwatch, Fortnite, or League of Legends to be a bit too slow for your liking. That said, both normal day-to-day work on the monitor and using stuff like Netflix will likely be an enjoyable experience, with an acceptable frame rate that depends largely on the quality of your home network.
Finally, we should mention the second addition this computer has when it comes to wireless capabilities. In addition to being able to display your laptop wireless, this Dell model also includes Qi wireless charging into the base of the monitor. Interestingly, this has made the monitor more interesting in the two years since its launch in 2016. More phones than ever have support for wireless charging, including all of Samsung’s recent flagship devices, the iPhone 8, the iPhone X, and most other Android flagships outside of the Pixel 2. While it doesn’t include fast wireless charging, placing an iPhone X or Galaxy S9 on the base of the monitor will allow it to automatically charge. It’s a neat feature that we’ve seen expanded on in recent years.
So, should you buy this monitor? If you don’t mind the resolution and screen size, the Dell S2317HWi is an interesting device, especially two years out. While it has its fair share of cons, it’s one of the few monitors on the market today with wireless display capabilities built into the device, and the wireless charging-capable base makes it that more interesting. The original MSRP for this monitor was priced above $300, making it a difficult buy when better monitors today can be had for that same price. But at the $150 Amazon is currently offering this model for, it’s not a terrible buy, so long as your devices can take advantage of the wireless capabilities here. Overall, the Dell S2317HWi gets a solid recommendation from us. Even two years later, it’s one of the few monitors on the market that offers full support for wireless displays.
- Fairly inexpensive monitor
- Full support for Miracast
- Nice, bezel-free design
- USB 2.0 ports in 2018
- Smartphone option doesn't work well with modern phones
- Limited connection options
- Doesn't work with Mac
Instead of recommending another wireless monitor, we actually found the runner-up here to be Microsoft’s newest version of their own Wireless Display Adapter, which has been around in some form for a few years and continues to be a popular choice in offices and living rooms alike. The product is most certainly designed with office use in mind, with the product description mentioning the ability to modernize your meetings by using the product to display all sorts of Office documents and presentations on the big screen with the help of the Wireless Display Adapter. Now in its second iteration, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter is one of the cheapest ways to add wireless tech to your existing monitor, but as always, the same question we’ve come to understand still exists: is it truly worth buying into, or are you better off sticking with your HDMI cable?
Let’s start at the beginning: unlike the Dell monitor we reviewed above, there isn’t a lot to cover here. The actual hardware presented is fairly basic, with a sleek black design and two small plugs connected by a cord. When carrying the device in your bag or storing it away, the two hardware pieces hook together to keep things safe and secure. There’s a small Windows logo on one side of the device, but otherwise, it’s fairly unassuming. One end of the plug contains an HDMI connector; the other end a simple USB-A plug. The documentation both presented on Amazon and included in the box of the device makes things obvious: the HDMI end plugs into the back of your monitor or television, with the USB plug hooking into the back of your monitor or television to provide it power. Basically every modern television and monitor have a USB plug somewhere on the back of the device, making it an easy solution for anyone trying to hook up the device.
Maybe the best part about Microsoft’s adapter is, as long as your device supports the tech behind it, you don’t need to download software or anything else in order to get the device up and running. Like Dell’s monitor, Microsoft built Miracast support into the adapter, creating a unit that automatically supports any device with Miracast built in. In theory, this is great, since most Windows laptops, desktops, and tablets, along with Android devices, used to have full support for Miracast. But with the Android support for Miracast dwindling, and the Apple support for the standard nonexistent, you’re only left with an option that allows for streaming wirelessly from your Windows PC.
But hey, assuming you have a Windows PC as your main interface, you’ll likely find you have Miracast built in so long as it’s a newer device. Testing it is simple: on Windows 10, open your start menu and type “connect” into the device in order to open up the Connect menu. If your device supports Miracast technology, you’ll see a blue display that says your PC is ready to be connected. If you see a message that your laptop, desktop, or PC doesn’t support Miracast, you won’t be able to use this product, so you should definitely consider testing that on your device before picking up this adapter for yourself.
Alright, once you’ve plugged the adapter into your PC, you should be able to automatically connect your PC to the device. Thanks to the small size of the adapter, connecting to smaller spaces behind your television shouldn’t be problem. Once you’ve plugged into the device and turned it on, use the Connect app on your PC to sync to your television or monitor. As far as using the wireless display as a way to browse the web, you shouldn’t see any major frame drops throughout use; likewise, assuming your connection is strong, you shouldn’t see more than a split second of lag between your computer and the monitor. Video playback is solid as well, but if you’re looking to use this wireless adapter to stream your games from your laptop to your television, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Still, for just $50, a quick and cheap way to add some wireless capabilities to your already-existing monitor is a solid way to go with this route, and the entire experience of using the adapter to link your laptop with a monitor for both mirroring and second display options. It’s not perfect, especially if you’re looking to game wirelessly, but for most use cases, streaming Facebook or Netflix to your television or splitting your workflow between your monitor and your laptop display is easily accomplished with this device.
- Only $50
- Easily portable for meeting rooms or hotels
- Mostly lag-free
- Not good for gaming
- Modern smartphones won't work
- Doesn't work with Mac
It’s tough to review the Ultrasharp U2417HWi. Based on the naming structure of the unit, you’ve probably come to the conclusion—and rightfully so—that this model is similar to the 2317HWi that we chose as our top pick. Indeed, launched at the same time, the U2417HWi is incredible similar, changing just a few things about the monitor for some extra cash. Still, for the right consumer, the Ultrasharp model of Dell’s 2016 wireless monitors might end up being a better buy, assuming you’re willing to drop around $200 (as of writing) instead of $150 on the smaller model above. Let’s take a quick look at the differences here, and whether the upgrade is worth the 33 percent increase in price.
The name gives away two of the bigger changes with this model: first, the ’24’ in the model number refers to the size of the actual display. It’s still a 16:9 aspect ratio here, with the standard 1920x1080p resolution we saw on the 23″ model, so with the 24″ display here, the PPI is actually slightly lower. We wouldn’t worry too much about that, however; at this size, the PPI difference between 23″ and 24″ is unnoticeable unless you have the two monitors next to each other side by side. Ironically, this is the model with the word Ultrasharp in the product name of the monitor, despite the lower resolution, but we think there’s a good explanation for that. Unlike the 23″ model, this Ultrasharp model has pretty solid color reproduction, able to reproduce 96 percent of the AdobeRBG color gamut. That’s pretty solid overall, though unfortunately, the brightness remains as dim as on the 23″ model. The good news: the display is matte instead of glossy, so the lower brightness may have less of an effect.
The physical design is relatively the same, with thin bezels around the top and bottom of the device and a thicker bezel along the bottom to house the lighting and display components. Like the smaller model, this display has the same exact wireless connection options, complete with a single HDMI port as backup for using wired displays. Again, it would’ve been nice to see VGA on this larger model, or at least a DisplayPort or second HDMI port, but the wireless option is basically it’s own display connector in and of itself; we’ll take what we can get. The good news: this model had its USB ports upgraded to USB 3.0 ports, offering four total. Unlike the smaller model, this display doesn’t have built-in speakers, so you’ll need to use the 3.5mm jack to plug speakers into the device.
Outside of these small changes, the other big change comes from the removal of wireless charging in the base. In 2016, when these models were released, it might have made sense to remove the wireless charging feature in order to present users with the option to either buy the more-consumer grade monitor or the more advanced Ultrasharp-branded one. However, two years later, the removal of wir eless charging from the more-premium model doesn’t make sense. As we mentioned previously, more and more users have wireless-capable devices, making the removal seem less like a sensible one and more like a misstep. In addition to the growing library of Android devices with wireless charging, every 2017 iPhone model is also capable of charging wirelessly. If you’re ride or die on the idea of wireless charging in the base, you’ll want to stick to the smaller model here.
Overall, those are really the only changes between the two models. As mentioned, wireless connectivity works the same here as on the smaller 2317HWi, which makes it a real toss-up between which monitor you buy. The smaller 23″ model includes speakers and wireless charging in the base of the unit, but an extra $50 gets you a slightly-larger, more color-accurate display and the addition of USB 3.0. It might come down to whether you want to spend $150 or $200 on your new wireless monitor. Whichever you pick, you’re getting a solid monitor for the price, though we’d love to see these models refreshed with the addition of 4K options sometime in 2018.
- Better display tech
- USB 3.0 options
- No wireless charging
- More expensive
It’s not a perfect solution, but depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with your monitor—and assuming that you have the right platform to use with the Chromecast. For just $35 for the 1080p model and $70 for the 4K-capable Chromecast Ultra, the Chromecast lineup is the cheapest way to add the ability to display your monitor wirelessly to any television or computer monitor in your house, no matter what platform you’re using.
We won’t spend too much time talking about the Chromecast, because it’s a product you’re likely familiar with. It’s been around for nearly five years, and has become ubiquitous with easy streaming to your television from a number of apps on your phone, regardless if you’re using iOS or Android. The open secret surrounding the Chromecast lineup is that, while the products are primarily made to work with your smartphone or tablet, they don’t necessarily depend on you using Chromecast-based apps exclusively. The Chromecast, like the name implies, works directly with Chrome on your computer. As long as Chrome is a browser installed on your laptop or desktop, you’ll be able to mirror your laptop to your Chromecast, regardless if its plugged into a monitor or a television.
To do it, you’ll just need to open up Chrome on any device capable of running it. It doesn’t matter whether you have a laptop running Windows 10, MacOS, or Linux so long as it has Chrome installed on the device. Mirroring your display just takes a few clicks from within the actual Chrome browser. Start by clicking on the triple-lined menu button in the top-right of Chrome to open the Chrome context menu, then select Cast from the drop-down list. From there, tap on the bottom-facing triangle next to “Cast to” in the top right of the display, and select “Cast desktop,” which will allow you to change your selection from casting just the actual audio or tab from your device to casting your entire desktop. This works regardless of platform, automatically appearing on your display so long as you share a network with the Chromecast in question.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind the limits of mirroring over Chromecast. You can’t create a second screen with this tech, so you’re limited to simple mirroring instead of actual extension of your display. While basic mirroring works pretty well, the actual act of mirroring video can be a bit choppy depending on the source. Some websites, like YouTube or Netflix, have support for Cast built in, so you might be better off choosing to use that feature instead of mirroring your device to play the newest season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on your television. And you can forget about gaming; while it’s certainly possible to stream gameplay to your Chromecast, you won’t want to when you see the lag. Still, it’s definitely a solid contender for wireless streaming if only because it works with every platform you could possibly want. Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, even iOS—what other platform today can say they do that?
- Works with everything
- Cheapest product on the list
- Not the best mirroring
- No second-screen options
Up to this point, every product on this list has failed to work effectively with Apple’s line of Macs and MacBooks. Dell’s Wireless Connect monitors and the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter are both meant to be used with Windows devices, and while Google’s Cast platform does support Macs thanks in no small part to Google’s efforts to power every application on the market, you’ll need to use Chrome as your browser on Mac to get any use out of it. If you want full wireless support on your Mac, outside of any application limitations and supported directly by Apple, you really need to look into buying an Apple TV.
Currently in its fifth generation, the Apple TV is available in two distinct models: the newer 4K model and the older 1080p model. Largely speaking, if you’re just looking to mirror your laptop on a computer monitor or television, the 4th-gen Apple TV will likely work out in your favor, assuming your monitor isn’t displaying in 4K. That said, the newer Apple TV doesn’t just come with the ability to output to 4K—it also has improved networking, with support for simultaneous dual-band networks, and a more powerful processor inside the hardware built by Apple. Both of those options could seriously come in handy when it comes to properly displaying content on a television or monitor from your MacBook.
Once you hook the product up to your device, you’ll have full support for Airplay mirror, which is done on your Macbook by simply clicking on the Airplay icon in the top-right corner of your display. Airplay has full support for wireless mirroring, but also includes options to treat your Airplay monitor as a second monitor, capable of displaying any application, toolset, video, or utility on your computer without a single wire in the way. While the Apple TV is meant for a television, the box is small enough that it can easily plug into your monitor to turn it into a wireless display. Considering the remote and the iOS-based interface aren’t needed to automatically start mirroring your display from your laptop, you can even hide the box out of site, using it simply as a tool rather than as an entertainment hub.
Of course, all of that tech comes at a price. The cheaper, 1080p-only model of the Apple TV starts at $149, while the 4K model of the Apple TV increase its price to $179 for a 32GB model and $199 for a 64GB model. If you’re only looking to cast your display, and not to use apps or games on the device, the 32GB model will obviously work fine. That doesn’t stop $179 from being a lot of money to drop on a box to wirelessly receive your content, however, especially when the competing wireless products from Microsoft and Google all retail under $100. Still, it’s tough to argue with the Apple TV if you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro. It isn’t cheap, but Airplay works well, and mirroring is a simple solution that makes it easy to use your laptop with your monitor without any sort of interference.
- Mirroring and second-screen extension both work well
- Full support for both MacOS and iOS
- As expensive as the two monitors on this list
- Only works with Apple products
While we’ve spent the majority of this list looking at ways you could possibly transition your monitor to stream wirelessly from your PC, we also need to acknowledge that not every person with a laptop has or needs an addition 24″ monitor sitting around their room. If you’re a MacOS user and you happen to keep an iPad around your house, you can use your iPad as a second display for nearly anything. Whether you need extra space for your tool panels in Photoshop or you’re looking to extend your browser among two displays, an iPad is an excellent way to automatically sync your work between two displays at once, assuming you live in the Apple ecosystem.
Duet Display is far from the only app on the Apple App Store that turns your iPad into a secondary display to help with your workflow. We chose this one to highlight, however, because of its excellent support and updates, the background of the dev team, and the positive reviews the app has seen throughout its life time since first released a few years ago. For just $9.99, Duet is a steal, easily one of the best second-screen apps on the App Store and one with the backing of ex-Apple engineers who know how to develop for the program inside and out. The idea is simple: using just the Lightning to USB cable your iPad already uses to charge that ships with every iPad in the box, you simply plug the tablet into your computer (running either MacOS or Windows 7, 8.1, or 10) and your screen will come to life. There’s no interference, no worrying about WiFi connections and syncing and the duplication of displays is so flawless, you can watch a 1080p video at 60 frames per second on YouTube viewed through your iPad without having to worry about frame drops.
It’s not completely wireless, but if the idea behind adopting a wireless display is to grant you some additional real estate for your workflow, it’s definitely worth looking at what Duet Display has to offer. The fast that your iPad is already plugged in doesn’t just help with responsiveness. It also allows for your device to always stay charged, even while you’re using it. It’s a solid way to make sure that your tablet is always at peak performance. One last thing we really love about Duet: it has in-app purchases that allow pro users to evolve and advance your platform. Whether you’re looking to use your tablet as a drawing pad with your PC or Mac (fully supported with the Apple Pencil, assuming you have an iPad Pro or a 2018 iPad), or you’re looking to add TouchBar functionality to your iPad via MacOS, there are plenty of options and expansions for your system available here.
- Uses hardware you might already own
- Incredibly smooth and responsive
- Plug and play
- Not completely wireless
- Expensive as far as apps go
This is another interesting case where the theory behind it with your PC and monitor might be more interesting than actually committing and spending the money and the setup to using it. IOGEAR’s Wireless Digital Kit is designed to beam the display from one screen to another, effectively allowing you to utilize your network to duplicate your Blu-Ray player, cable box, or even gaming system from one room to another in order to not purchase additional systems you already own. It’s not totally designed for using with a PC, considering the bulk of both the transmitter and receiver, but it’s totally possible to sync up your computer and monitor at once while using the system. Let’s take a look.
When you receive your IOGEAR, you’ll find three major components inside the box. The first of two boxes is a transmitter, designed to plug into a cable box, a Blu-Ray player, or your computer. You’ll need to use the HDMI port on your laptop or desktop to take video from that component in order to send the signal. Once your transmitter is set up and powered, you’ll need to plug the receiver into your television or monitor. The receiver is fairly large, about the size of a router, making it an even bigger piece of tech than the comparably small Apple TV, which is more in line in size of the transmitter you plug into your computer. The third piece of hardware in the system is the remote, which functions as a way to turn the receiver off and on. The actual receiver has support for IR receivers if you’re looking to use this system with your home theater, but that’s really another use case for another time.
Theoretically, once you plug in the transmitter and the receiver into the respective units on both devices, you’ll be ready to start broadcasting from your computer to your television or monitor wirelessly. As always, of course, there’s a few limitations depending on what you want to do. First, your PC is going to need an HDMI-out port, which effectively limits the use of the unit to just modern PCs and computers. If your computer has an HDMI-port somewhere on the device, that’s almost certainly an HDMI-out port that you can use for this system. Typically, HDMI-inputs are limited to desktops with special use cases, like for receiving video feeds. Second, some have reported disconnects when using the system, occasionally losing video feeds in the process. And third, while video playback between your computer and the receiver should be fine if your network is strong, gameplay will once again likely be a bit too unresponsive and laggy to be useful.
Having been on the market for over half a decade now, IOGEAR’s unit here is pretty solid considering the age of the device. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit pricey, coming in at around $200 on Amazon and having a retail price of $280 new. That isn’t cheap, putting it well over the price of both monitors listed on our product list. Ultimately, the IOGEAR is really a product meant for use with a home theater system, not so much a computer and a monitor. That shouldn’t stop you from picking one up if you feel this will fit your needs best, but it’s important to remember that there may be some limitations with the product.
- Works with all sorts of systems
- Great for home theater use
- Not totally meant for a PC