Skip the dongles with these wireless alternatives in 2017
Using sleek PCs like the ASUS ZenBook 3 and ZenBook 3 Deluxe is a great experience, but to make the most out of their USB-C ports you’ll often need dongles. Some come right in the box, but to make life easier, there are a lot of great alternatives to consider. Take a look at these wireless solutions that can keep your desktop clutter free while maintaining versatile connectivity.
Many wireless mice and keyboards communicate with a PC using a full-sized USB dongle. You can get around this by finding peripherals that use the Bluetooth standard instead. This is built right into your ZenBook 3, so there’s no need for additional hardware. Something like the ASUS BX701 is a perfect example. It’s a portable, simple, and comfortable mouse. You may want to pair it with the Logitech K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard. Not only can you type all day on your ZenBook 3 with it, you can easily flip to typing on your phone or tablet, too.
There are also Bluetooth headphones available. These have the added bonus of playback control and being able to take Skype calls. The Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones, complete with noise cancellation, are worth a gander. Extend your audio experience out to those nearby with external Bluetooth speakers, like the colorful UE Boom 2. Alternatively, you can get Bluetooth audio adapters (like the Yamaha YBA-11) to wirelessly connect to your home stereo system.
Chromecast dongle for screen extension
Google’s excellent Chromecast accessory opens up whole new worlds for your screens. You’ll have the option to mirror your ZenBook 3’s display once the Google Cast extension has been installed in Chrome and the Chromecast dongle has been set up on an external monitor. Just click the Cast icon in Chrome to get started. Of course, Chromecast works great with your phone as well.
To make the most of this, try setting up a second virtual desktop so you can use both your external monitor and the ZenBook 3’s display at the same time. Just click the Virtual Desktop icon on the taskbar on the bottom, and add a new desktop. This can be your dedicated Chromecast mirroring screen, while the original Virtual Desktop can continue to be used locally on the ZenBook 3. Just hit the Start and Tab keys to switch between which is active.
Like the Bluetooth scenario, you may also want to check out the Chromecast Audio dongle for extending your music experience to a home theater. Also, be sure to get the Chromecast Ultra if you intend on streaming video in 4K.
Built-in Windows streaming
Many modern devices can play with one another with little to no set-up. You just need to know where to look.
For displays, you’ll need to make sure your screen is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your ZenBook 3. Most new displays will ask for network connection information during set-up. Then on your ZenBook 3, press the Start key and P. Click Connect to Wireless Display in the sidebar that pops up. Your display should either start mirroring your ZenBook 3 immediately, or there will be a confirmation process. In any event, this is great for quickly sharing slideshows or videos with friends in the living room without the hassle of cables.
In-home streaming is also possible with network-enabled speakers, such as Sonos. Open Windows Media Player by typing it in the search bar at the bottom and clicking the icon at the top of the results. Along the top there will be a menu to Stream your music. You’ll likely need to click through on options such as Turn on media streaming… for the initial set-up, but afterwards your home networked speakers should be visible. You’ll also be able to right-click on files directly through Explorer and pick destinations under the Cast to Device menu.
NAS for home media storage
Many external hard drives don’t need to be plugged into your computer to host your files. Network Attached Storage plugs directly into your home router, so you can access files anywhere in your home (and often outside the home too). This is great if you’ve got a big media library and don’t want to host all of those files on your laptop. Set-up instructions will vary by manufacturer, but once complete, it will show up under Network in Explorer, beneath the Media Devices subheading. From here you can play video or music directly on the ZenBook 3, or stream it out to other sources using any of the methods listed above. Some, like the ASUS Wireless Duo, don’t even need an existing wireless network because it creates its own.
Many of these solutions are equally applicable to mobile. Whether you’re packing the latest ZenFone 3 device or any other handset, connecting wirelessly to displays, speakers, and other hardware peripherals is often as easy on your phone as it is on a ZenBook 3. Some of the best accessories listed here are specifically designed to do that double duty.