Project your Android phone's screen onto a larger display

Takeaway: 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!

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