Smartphones

Project your Android phone's screen onto a larger display

Learn three ways to get your Android phone display onto a large overhead screen so you can show off your killer app during your next demo or presentation.

You get an invite to a trade show, where you want to show off your masterpiece of a mobile app to the masses. But how many people can huddle around an Android-powered phone before it starts to feel like Black Friday at Walmart? What you really need is a way to project your phone display onto a larger more visible overhead screen. There are several options that come to mind.

One is to buy a hardware phone screen projector. Most of these projectors are marketed for forensics specialists who are looking to document evidence on a cell phone. These solutions are reliable, but generally start at several hundred dollars and go up from there. Paraben's Project-A-Phone ICD-5200 is one that I see show up in Android-related forums from time to time.

Another solution is to install Eclipse and the Android SDK, and then run your application in the Android emulator. There is nothing wrong with this approach, providing the emulator can handle your app requirements. But if you've used the emulator much with devices based on Honeycomb or above, you've seen that it can get painfully slow to the point where it becomes unusable.

Recently while attending a seminar, I encountered a third solution. A free application called Droid@Screen (Figure A). Droid@Screen can be downloaded from the developer's website. It's a pure Java app, and as such you can run it on a PC, Mac, and most Linux distros. It still requires the Android SDK be installed, as it cleverly works by utilizing screen captures over ADB (Android Debugger). The frame rate is somewhere around 40 frames per minute, which isn't blazing, but adequate for a vast number of presentation scenarios. Figure A

Droid@Screen

I downloaded Droid@Screen and tried it on my Mac. If there is a way to make it easier to set up and get running I can't imagine what it would be. I plugged in my XOOM tablet, downloaded the JAR file, and double clicked it. Nice! If you develop Android apps, I encourage you to take a moment and try at Droid@Screen. It's a very handy tool, and you can't beat the price!

About

William J Francis began programming computers at age eleven. Specializing in embedded and mobile platforms, he has more than 20 years of professional software engineering under his belt, including a four year stint in the US Army's Military Intellige...

7 comments
meister2681
meister2681

Most new smartphones have the option of purchasing an MHL-HDMI adaptor (I got mine off eBay) and then connecting directly via an HDMI cable to a display. Also, TeamViewer (free for personal use) lets me display and control my phone using a PC (don't know about Mac). The frame rate is a bit rubbish but maybe that's my slow broadband connection!

pslat
pslat

Sorry I'm late. Try androidscreencast. You need have java and the android sdk but it claims 4 or 5 fps -that's a lot better than 40 fpm and the best part is, on rooted phones you can remote control the device with the mouse and keyboard. You can also record videos while using remote control so it gets my #1 so far. It's a really handy piece of software when developing and yes it's free with java source available. It's available at http://code.google.com/p/androidscreencast/ - It actually took me a while to realise I just needed to run the jnlp file as I expected to have to install an app onto the phone before running it.

jasmine2501
jasmine2501

Then, I went down the rabbit hole of Android development... 6 hours later I think I might be close to getting this to work, but of course now I have to try my hand at Android development, since I spent all that time installing all that crap. So, maybe I'll try this screen projector thing later... and people wonder why I like Visual Studio.

mcarte
mcarte

I just don't understand why one can't simply plug the phone/tablet into a screen? surely tech has advanced that much??? I really wanted to demo some kids apps to my daughter's class but could not find a way - eventually I borrowed another tablet and they all huddled around the 2 tablets - it was absolute chaos. but will give this a try!

s_tartir
s_tartir

I've been wondering about such an app for sometime... back in the WinMo days, there were apps that even allowed control of the phone from the pc screen.

MichelliL
MichelliL

I don't understand why I cannot simply plug my phone or tablet into my Windows computer via USB and fire up some software that allows me KVM-style control of my device. Within the last year a developer was able to come up with this on the BlackBerry platform, why can't it be done on the Android system more easily? There are apps out there that can do this, but they all either entail rooting the device (which I've been reluctant to do) or are prohibitively expensive (LogMeIn).

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