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Cheap Continuum with an HDMI adapter for the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL

If you are considering picking up a new Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL (or already have one) you may have a few questions regarding that USB Type-C and OTG connector on the bottom of your phone.

If you caught our earlier video, we showed you how you can connect USB thumb drives and other peripherals like a mouse to your phone. Today, we'll show you a $25 HDMI adapter works and answer if you can use a Type-C Ethernet cable!

Ethernet is a no-go

If you ever wanted to plug your new Lumia directly up to a network through a Cat-5 cable, it looks like you cannot yet do that on Windows 10 Mobile.

We picked up two USB 3.1 Type C to Ethernet Adapters, and neither would let us get blazing fast Verizon FiOS internet directly to our phones. Sad trombone.

HDMI does work

It is likely not a surprise that a Type C to HDMI connector, however, does work. After all, the $99 Display Dock is the same device but with added USB ports.

For this test, we used a Cable Matters USB 3.1 Type C to HDMI Adapter Supporting 4K Resolution, which retails for $25. That is not cheap, but it is cheaper than the $99 display dock and significantly lighter.

Using the HDMI adapter to a monitor enables Continuum for phone turning your Lumia into a semi-PC. You can then use the phone as a trackpad, which is still super clever. You can also still connect a mouse and keyboard up through Bluetooth and have yourself a full Continuum experience at about a ¼ the cost of the Display Dock.

You can buy the one we used in the video below, however other options are likely to work as well.

Buy Cable Matters USB 3.1 Type C to HDMI Adapter at http://Amazon.com?tag=hawk-future-20&ascsubtag=UUwpUdUnU36100 for $24.99 (opens in new tab)

Using the HDMI-only option is ideal for presentations or just showing off photos and videos. Remember, even though our adapter and monitor were both 4K ready devices Continuum can only max out at 1080P at 60FPS.

Wrap up

Overall, Continuum and USB Type C OTG continues to surprise us with what these new Lumias can do. Easily the USB thumb drive and HDMI adapters are our favorite as those are some real-world problem solvers.

Finally, although we do not have a portable digital-to-analog converter (DAC) a few users in our forums, have had success in using those too. The one caveat is if it has to install a driver then it will not work, but if it is plug and play it should be just fine to output amplified and HQ audio to headphone or speakers.

We're still investing the USB Printer situation, so stay tuned.

News

Want all the latest news on these phones? Hit these topic pages for all that we got.

Support and help forums

Want to chat about the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL? Jump into our forums and ask others what they think or get help and advice on your new phone!

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

160 Comments
  • This is a great alternative that speaks volumes of how good this tech is.
  • Seems like a must have. Light weight and compact. Any way to utilize a laptop or surface screen with continuum?
  • Not with most at least. Laptops have HDMI out, but I'm not sure if I've ever seen HDMI in on a laptop.
  • Hp Spectre XT have a HDMI out.
  • It is probably OK for short time use since it doesn't charge phone as the Dock would.  May be phone needs to be sit on a wireless charger.
  • As I understand, it won't take much more juice than running apps on your phone alone. It's not powering the display after all and it's been running the same app on your phone all this time
  • I spent a good 15 minutes or more with wireless Continuum over Miracast and it used about 2% on my Lumia 950, which I think is very good. A wired connection should use even less.
  • Hi did the 950 go to pc mode?
  • But why?
  • Hey there is a possibility. I use Airserver on some of my Computers, to act as an airplay or Miracast target. That works fantastic and airserver is not even expensive.
  • Cool, universal!
  • been waiting for this since the 950 was released! thanks
  • Yeah me too, we both asked on forums about this :)
  • They should support displayport (type c to displayport) too as after all they support displayport over usb :). I know it's a given but given some users on here.... Lol.
  • The Display Dock supports DisplayPort so I can't see how a Type C - DisplayPort adapter (they do exist) wouldn't work too.
  • Hey Daniel, do the Apple adapters work? I'd be interested in the Type-C, HDMI, USB-A adapter they have for sale if it works. http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MJ1K2AM/A/usb-c-digital-av-multiport-a...
  • That would be my last choice.
  • never buy anything Apple - they're too fragile and you'll get haters (especially on this website)
  • If I wanted opinions on what to buy, I would have asked, instead, I asked if a specific product works of which I know there are generic versions available. I don't know many people more dedicated to this site and platform, so the ridiculous statements I get for a simple question are absurd.
  • I actually dislike Apple products, but that doesn't look fragile and is less expensive than the MS dock.
  • Just go to BestBuy
  • Thanks Daniel, hopefully that nails those questions out of the comments :). Not holding my breath however lol.
  • I just got the DisplayPort version of what you used, and it didn't work. The phone showed a USB error 43 message, which really wasn't very helpful. http://smile.amazon.com/Cable-MattersAE-USB-C-DisplayPort-Adapter/dp...
  • I got the same adaptor and got the same error message.
  • Another tick in a box, nice one.
  • I still don't see the value.  All our photos and video are on the cloud, which we can access from our TV already.  And we don't go to people's houses and shove our content onto their media center.  I certainly wouldn't want someone coming over to our house to do that.
  • Presentations in an office, schools and business trips. You have a very limited world view on usage in technologies. Also, using "we" when you are speaking for yourself is not accurate.
  • How is this shoving stuff onto their media center? It's the exact opposite if anything....
  • I have been in many family get together events where this would have been handy. Plus, this would also be a substitute for carrying a Roku stick (or similar) to watch something on a bigger screen.
  • What does tossing stuff in the cloud and on someone's media center have ANY relavance to this article? While ethernet would be nice (turn your phone into a hard wired upnp server) the HDMI aspect is awesome. The article is just stating what USB-C adapters have been found to work, or not work.
  • You guys got on him pretty hard. Hes just asking a question I guarantee you many folks also have
  • he brought up something totally out of left field and unrelated to the article at hand. Now if he misunderstood the post, then that would be one thing. But "shoving content onto their media server" was just out of place and well, had nothing to do with using USB-C adapters. Neither did the cloud....
  • I didn't see a question anywhere in Scubadog's comment.
  • Probably because complaining about everything is all he/she does. And uses straw men to do it
  • My mom uses her 950 and continuum instead of her laptop for Office
  • I like your mom! Errr, not in that kind of way though.
  • Good for you!
  • I'm coming to your house with a 950 and docking to your biggest family room TV to show three years of photos. Old school photo slide projector style. You'll drink my coffee and listen to my dry commentary and like it. Like a boss, I am. That is only one of many uses for this technology. And not every hdmi capable display has WiFi or can connect to the cloud.
  • Lol! I'm next, I also have some kick ass tunes to play in the background
  • *which YOU can access from your TV. I would suggest that the majority of people have TV's that aren't connected to the internet, and would require some sort of media box or console device to access them - which would be problematic if it's not at your own house. But with all that screwing around you could've just plugged in your HDMI cable into a TV or monitor and you're good to go. A lot of the usage scenarios were to connect a monitor for your phone, and the use of that goes FAR beyond just photos & videos.
  • I see great value in continuum because of 2 personal cases. First: I can turn my dumb tv into a smart pc, where I can enhance my living room experience, download movies just by sitting down on a couch(not to mention my dvd just died).. You could do this with other platforms but then it is basically just a mirrored screen and no scaling happen like in contnuum. Second: I don't own a laptop, I own a desktop, but every month for a couple of days I go to my father for a day or two, I have a huge LCD there in my room, which I can turn in pc and make some work for college :) sure I could buy a laptop, but I would buy a flagship anyway so why not get one that can do continuum
  • How much should I consider 950xl instead of 950 when I have concerns about performance differences when using continuum functions? I wanted to buy 950, but now I dont know.
  • If you are planning on using Continuum frequently I'd opt for the XL. I need to do more testing, but I can tell you under heavy loads the XL's extra power matters. Launching apps and doing daily phone stuff? Not so much.
  • I'd love a video on this if you can demonstrate the difference somehow.
  • Thanks Dan, please test and let us know what you think. At this point I am uncertain how many functions I will use .. probably web browsing, watching movies, typing documents.. basic laptop tasks.
  • I purchased the 950 XL and received the free Display Dock today. My wife has the 950. The XL shows a difference in performance "seems faster" haha... I like continuum and will use it often when traveling.
  • @Daniel, I'm sure some of us would want to know if the XL has any issues with heat when using continuum for long periods? Would be helpful if you get the chance to cover that :). I imagine it runs pretty warm but nothing too alarmingly hot or uncomfortable enough to warrant a hot potato drop.
  • Hey Dan,  Offtopic: What is your opinion about taking a screenshot with the new side keys setup on the 950XL ? I need both my palms to do it.
  • What about a Lumia 930 with W10M TP?
  • I've used the 950 over a wireless connection (MS Wireless, $25 on sale at Best Buy) and very few issues have come up. For day to day "work type" activities (office, browsing, email) it hasn't been an issue, excepting some wireless interference. A wired connection would eliminate that. I've run PowerPoints in my class wirelessly through my phone.
  • My 950 worked awesome using the wireless display adapter microsoft makes..worked as continuum and also as wireless display!!
  • Hi Dan, do you know if you can print(wired) using a usb c to usb a adapter?
  • They say in the article they are investigating this.
  • Oops I didn't read the last line of the article.
  • Does this or a Display dock work on a HD ready TV (720p)? Windows RT does not (well you can't launch any apps) so how much legacy are we dealing with here?
  • I fail to see any relevance on a TV's screen capabilities. It should work regardless as it is just displaying pixels.
  • Yes, I thought something similar too. But on Windows 8 and RT, apps will not work, any of em. The apps wants 1080p or they refuse to start, simple as that. So yes, you can watch the desktop in all its glory ... and do nothing.
  • Are you sure the screen is 720p? It sounds like the display is outputting at a resolution that is lower than the apps are designed for.
    Double check that the screen is connecting at 720p (rather than defaulting to a lower screen resolution).
    AFAIK, Windows 10 now allows apps to open at screen resolution of 800x480...so even if your TV is displaying at a low resolution, it'll probably still work fine.
  • @Nakazul, interesting what are you using? HDMI? Dvi? Vga?
  • Are there plans for higher than 1080p? I have a 2560 by 1080 screen I'd love to use if we get windowed support or side by side like 8.1.
  • I'm guessing this is possible, but they are limiting this due to performance.
  • Yeah, it's just a funny limitation considering the phone resolution is higher than 1080p. I'd be fine giving up the phone display during continuum use if that is what it takes.
  • But the phone is scale the display 300-400%, not running at native resolution.
  • Also, isn't the phone display still active while using continuum? So it's always potentially outputting the external display in addition to the phone display.
  • Good since they have been out of the free dock for the last few days I can't even get mine
  • One benefit I can see with using the dock would be the fact it charges the 950/XL while you're using Continuum. I'm guessing running the monitor, bluetooth mouse and keyboard probably drains the battery quickly. Also, when using the HDMI adapter and playing video, the sound is through the speaker on the phone. Is this the same with the dock? -Skippy
  • Place it on your wireless pad while connected, problem solved ☺
  • No on the display adapter, the sound goes thru the wireless hdmi interface ..volume on phone shows" display volume" to balance with TV 's other inputs
  • maybe sitting in on a wireless charger would offset the battery drain?
  • Anybody can confirm is the usb otg can read ntfs format?
  • I don't see why not. Internal storage is already formatted in NTFS (I think)
  • I would be shocked if it could not, since NTFS is a Microsoft technology. (If I remeber correctly)  
  • I would be shocked if it could not join Active Directory, that's a Microsoft technology. Oops.
  • Excited about the cheaper HDMI adapter option. Great find, article and video, Daniel! It makes the phones more affordable, cheaper and approachable, if you're interested in using the phones to their fullest capacity with the Continuum feature. When the prices lower slightly and the OS is complete, I might consider one of the phones and buy the cheaper HDMI adapter. Also, Daniel, when you do a comparison video of the 950 vs 950XL Continuum feature, could you show the difference using the Continuum feature both wired and wireless (Miracast)?
  • Wait... Then can you plug a non-windows phone device with Usb 3.1 type c to the dock?
  • If it supports the proper USB OTG drivers, this is probably true. They are baked into W10, not sure about Android.
  • like the latest macbook or chromebook pixel? in theory, possibly....
  • If you got that cash to drop on a pixel... That is a lot to spend for a USB C equipped Chromebook ☺
  • My favorite is to use my old Surface 2 Touch Cover with the Surface Type Cover Bluetooth Adapter. The touchpad and keyboard work flawlessly with Continuum and it adds ver little to my travel bag.
  • I've used my SP3 type keyboard with it's wireless adapter. Works as you say.
  • That's a tempting alternative, but I'm not sure about a Bluetooth peripheral setup I'd like. I might prefer to go with a cheap wireless offering from Logitech for the input and buy the Display Dock. We'll see.
  • I have the Wedge BT keyboard and a BT Sculpt mouse, both are very comfy to use.
  • There are a lot of Sculpt mice listed. The one on Microsoft's site, forget about it. If you're spending $100 on the mouse, I'd much sooner spend $100 on the Dock and get a mouse as good or better for a lot less. The keyboard's useless to me, as it has no number pad. That's a HUGE deal for me. Something I'd want to do on my phone a lot is Excel stuff, and numbers on Excel without a number pad is like trying to play a FPS online with a controller on a PC--it can be done, but it's a bothersome pain.
  • Hey, Daniel, might be good to let people know that while you can't get a USB-C to Ethernet to work, there are other options if there is only an Ethernet cable with no Wi-Fi available. There are a plethora of inexpensive portable nano Wi-Fi routers that allow you to plug the small nano router into the ethernet cable, then it broadcasts your own private, secure Wi-Fi that you can log into. I do that whenever I stay at a hotel, as there is usually a choice between an insecure Wi-Fi in the room or a LAN cable. I opt to turn the LAN cable into a more secure Wi-Fi hotspot that makes it more convenient for me, and my devices automatically hook up to it as if I were at home. Nice since my phones and laptops all recognize my device, since we use that at home.
  • Good call. Any recommendations? Might want to try one out on my next business trip.
  • I too would like some recommendations. I've been considering picking one up for some time, but WiFi can often be a finicky technology, I really don't want to pick up am unreliable device.
  • Seems the one I would normally recommend is currently out of stock at NewEgg, and Amazon has 1 used one. HooToo HT-TM04 TripMate Elite Versatile Wireless N Travel Router.  There is THIS ONE, which will allow you to plug in a USB flash drive that will become "network storage" that you can access like a network drive. Sweet. Small, portable, and convenient. Uses micro-USB for power. There is also THIS ONE which does everything the first one does above, but also has a 10,400mAH battery pack to charge your phone. It also handles a USB Hub that will allow you to plug in more flash drives or USB HDD for streaming. Just read the reviews to get an idea. Prices are always fluctuating on these things. The one I have is currently $29.95 on Amazon, but I bought it during one of those 24-hour sales for $12.99. It acts as a router, access point, bridge, and range extender/repeater. The range extender can be nice if you live in a big house and need a little extra oomph at one end of the house, and a cheap alternative for it. The bridge let's me use my phone's hotspot, and the device signs into my phone. I then plug in into the WAN port of my router, and get my phone's WiFi broadcast all over the house from the wireless router and also to the hard wired LAN connections, which means my printer gets internet through the Ethernet cable. So, it works both ways. I can either send my phone's hotspot TO an ethernet cable, or get internet FROM an ethernet cable by using the device. Find one that works as a bridge and a router, and you'll be able to be more versatile. You may end up needing to share your wifi hotspot one day with a desktop computer that doesn't have wifi, only ethernet. This little gem comes in handy.
  • Just so you know, that's no more secure than the WiFi in most cases since you're probably still on the same network as the WiFi users. Cool trick though.
  • It does make wireless man-in-the-middle attacks more difficult, since you can't have a potential attacker spoof the wireless SSID and intercept all your traffic directly. Now, the network still might be unsecure in other aspects, but an extra layer of security is still something.
  • Does anyone know the name of the clock and calander apps on his Start screen?
  • The calendar looks like Chronos.  Not sure about the clock.
  • Thanks!!
  • I do wish Ethernet worked.
  • I'd be curious if a usb-ethernet port attached to the contiuum dock would work?
  • More than likely not. Still interfacing with the phone at the end of the day, and it appears the phone just doesn't support Ethernet data via the Type-C port just yet. Hopefully a software update fixes that.
  • Obvious question, what about a 4 port hub to run the cheap HDMI adapter, plugin mouse, keyboard, and external storage?
  • Here is an interesting question... Can we use usb fingerprint scanners with Windows Hello while connected to Dock or any USB dongle?
  • I myself was wondering the same thing. I seriously doubt it, but the iris scanner on my 950 XL is so unreliable, juxtaposed to the awesome fingerprint scanner on the new Surface Type Cover. I'd love to get a decent fingerprint scanner and use that from time-to-time. He'll, if the phone support Windows Hello technologies via the Type-C port (highly unlikely), I could see some very creative case designs being made via the Made With Lumia program that adds fingerprint scanner technology to these devices. Again, highly unlikely, but that'd be awesome.
  • @SwimSwim, that would be pretty darn awesome indeed. Imagine a back cover with a extended battery, finger print scanner and kick stand :P.
  • Well, since these are not any Apple products, companies will avoid them in long term. So no one will make high end cases for 950/XL in my opinion. Mozo did because Microsoft gave them credit at the announcement which is a huge advertisement for Mozo. But after them I don't think companies will look into making cases or any other accessories, especially high end ones. Because, they'll spend money on idea, design, production and then what? they'll sell only for 3% of the market...On the other hand iSheeps change their phones every one or two years, and buy lots of accessories for the current one that will be garbage next year so they'll buy new ones... Anyway, I don't see any high-end case or cover or any other accessory coming if not produced by Microsoft itself.
  • I think there are lots of smaller companies that will jump on the opportunity since (for the time being) there's very little competition
  • Oh so this is what the DAC questions were all about. Glad it is explained. Always wondered why my Lumia won't output to 2.1 external speakers.
  • I just hooked up one of the Blue Yeti microphones to the 950. Used a C to usb A converter. Works great with the headphone monitor plug on the Yeti cable. The built-in Voice Recorder worked great. Rummaging around to see what else I can find to plug into it.
  • Because of this article (and because my free XL dock is still listed as "backordered") I just ordered this:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0155BR8BM?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_... I already have mini-DP to HDMI, mini-DP to DVI, mini-DP to VGA etc. so I'm hoping this works as well as the adapter you discussed.
  • I can verify that this adapter is NOT working with my 950 XL. When I plug it in, I'm getting a USB error (43). Dissapointed.
  • I get the same error. Very disappointing.
  • Me, too. Have the 950xl and bought this adaptor because of the article. VERY disappointed.
  • Anybody tried Xbox 360 or Xbox one controller
  • Dan, does W10M support the Xbox One controller on USB OTG? Thinking this could be an awesome feature for Continuum dock - plug in to TV with wireless adapter for controller and game away!
  • Unfortunately, no :/
  • That's quite a bummer, but hopefully it's on the roadmap! Imagine steamed game from Xbox or maybe even local games on the phone played on the big screen. Asphalt series would be naturals! Or a phone holder that plugs into the controller for traveling. Here's hoping!
  • Sad trombone LOL
  • Nice for quick uses, but my main concern would be powering the phone. Continuum is a battery hog.  
  • I am going to drop mine on a charging pad.
  • Nice! I didn't even think of that, and I have one. Haha.
  • If you have a RUKU or Miracast Wireless Display , 950/XL can do the same thing without a cable, that's what I connected my XL to the big screen TV for picture and video, open contimuum, click wireless adapter..........
  • Even most smart tvs have miracast built in.
  • Maybe this has been asked before, or maybe its already known, I Dunno. But does the new phones charge while connected to the continuum things?
  • The Display Dock charges - otherwise use the witless pad charging.
  • Now I hope those whiners who think WP8 is better than W10 mobile will begin to appreciate the limitless capabilities imbedded in W10 Mobile. They are not even close.
  • Still no swipe in Edge......so still whining :)
  • I don't like web browsing with swipe back or forward, it usually gets set off accidentally like when ur filling out a really long web form and nearly finished, and u have to start over
  • Oh yeah, that is pretty tiresome lol.