After I switched the TV set to the correct input, I was greeted by a slick setup animation that cycled through various steps to get the AllShare Cast Hub up and running. Unfortunately, while the graphics were stylish and clearly indicated what I had to do visually, their accompanying written captions were anything but straightforward.
For example I easily understood that I had to navigate to my Samsung Galaxy S III handset’s settings menu to enable the AllShare wireless function. I found onscreen directions to “press the reset key of the dongle when the red indicator starts blinking” completely mystifying. No reason for doing this action was given aside from that it was, “To connect new AllShare device.”
It wasn’t until I consulted the included printed documents that I learned I had to press the reset button for almost 30 seconds until the AllShare Cast’s indicator light shifted from a blinking red to a steady blue. It’s then and only then that I could successfully link my phone to the Hub.
Once connected properly, I saw everything the Galaxy S III’s screen displayed replicated on my HDTV. This included Android menus, apps, and even games. I successfully listened to music and HD video streamed to my TV screen via my test phone. It was also mildly entertaining to play a few rounds of Angry Birds across a 55-inch canvas. One potential issue, though, is that the AllShare Cast Hub lacks discrete audio ports of any kind, so connecting the gadget to older home theater receivers (non HDMI) isn’t possible.
Video and audio quality was clean overall with clear high-resolution images and no hiccups. I did experience lag between phone screen and TV, though, especially within the Wi-Fi-saturated CNET offices in New York. In fact, a few times I lost the connection between phone and TV completely, forcing me to reconnect. Moving to a location with less Wi-Fi interference, however, cleared up the problem.
While the Samsung AllShare Cast Hub performs its core function of porting smartphone content to HDTVs adequately, its $99.99 price isn’t cheap. That premium is especially daunting considering the gadget only works with a handful of recent Samsung products. Also, if all you want to do is stream basic audio to living room components, the $39.99 tackles the job for a lot less. There’s also the $49.99 that’s built for RIM handsets but does work with any phone with using Bluetooth stereo audio. HTC also sells its $89.99 Media Link HD device that performs many of the same tricks but only for HTC handsets. Of course for owners of shiny new Galaxy S IIIs who want to enjoy both their phone’s audio and video on the big screen, the AllShare Cast Hub is the only game in town.