Devices that transmit audio and video signals from one device to another have been around for years -- and we've tried them all.
Now, enter stage left -- three devices that use different technologies to transmit audio and video. And, they all work!
We've been playing with the Belkin ScreenCast AV4 Wireless AV-to-HDTV Adapter ($179.99), the DVDO Air3 ($229,) and the Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro ($69.99). All of these devices work beautifully right out of the box, with one exception -- no matter what they claim, the device they're transmitting from (and the transmitter) and the device they're transmitting to (and the receiver) must be in the same room without any obstructions to provide the best audio and video. Our fantasy has always been to obtain one of these units that could transmit from room to room -- so we'll keep on dreaming!
Despite this, each one of these wireless devices delivered beautiful high definition (1080p) video and (in some cases) great 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound with a minimum of effort on our part. We simply hooked them up using HDMI cables and, voila, they worked. But it's HOW they worked that is intriguing.
The Belkin ScreenCast is the most versatile of the three. The folks at Belkin provide four HDMI inputs on the back of the transmitter enabling you to connect up to four A/V devices. Unfortunately the unit doesn't auto detect which device is turned on, but it does give you a remote control to select which one you want to use.
The remote works like the "input" function on a TV's remote control, displaying your inputs on the screen and giving you the option of naming them -- for example, "TV" or "Blue-Ray Player."
Belkin boasts on the packaging that it can work from 100 feet away and from another room, but we discovered that the video signal suffered severely when the transmitter and receiver weren't in the same room.
Setting it up was extremely easy. We simply hooked up our Blu-Ray player, Directv box and computers to the transmitter using HDMI cables and attached the receiver to our TV. We also tried it using a surround sound receiver and a projector. Both setups worked perfectly, delivering a great picture and (in the case where we didn't use the surround sound receiver) great sound.
Other key features include:
- It can handle 3D video
- It provides up to 5.1 channels of surround sound
- It comes with an IR blaster that transmits the signal from your remote to the wireless transmitter
- It's tabletop or wall mountable
The DVDO Air3 works with HDMI devices and those featuring MHL technology, which is featured in tablets and smartphones. Simply put, MHL stands for Mobile High-Definition Link, which allows you to mirror the content of your mobile device on another screen.
The DVDO Air3 has an HDMI port on the transmitter and another on the receiver. Simply attach it to your devices using an HDMI cable and you're in business.
Setup was easy and the picture quality was beautiful. The only problem we had was that it really doesn't play well with obstructions in the room. Simply standing in front of the transmitter was enough to cut the signal from the transmitter to the receiver.
It also offers:
- 60 gigahertz wireless technology that allows you to stream games and video without interference from Wi-Fi connections. Other wireless devices operate in the five gigahertz range.
- 7.1 surround sound audio
- 3D support
- It transmits data at speeds up to four gigabytes per second
The ScreenBeam Pro is simply a receiver designed to work with devices using WIDI technology. which was developed by Intel to allow PCs, laptops and other devices to stream audio and video to WIDI enabled receivers, such as the new wave of TVs and monitors. Simply put, the ScreenBeam Pro adapts these TVs, etc., making them WIDI compatible.
The folks at Actiontec were kind enough to send us a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet, which features WIDI technology, so we could put the ScreenBeam through its paces. They also send us a router that allowed us to set up a 5G wireless network, which is about three times faster than other Wi-Fi networks (802.11xx and 4G) and is supposed to be more stable.
Setup for the ScreenBeam required a bit more input from us, because we had to set up the Surface to connect with the receiver in addition to attaching it to our screen using an HDMI cable. But, once that was done, it worked perfectly.
This isn't as versatile as the other devices, simply because there aren't enough computers, TVs, DVD players, etc. using the technology. But, the slogan "Intel Inside" may soon take on a whole new meaning. Or maybe the solution is for Actiontec to build a WIDI transmitter to attach to non-compatible devices.
Other features of the ScreenBeam include:
- A USB 2.0 port
- Up to 1080p video output.
- Up to 5.1 surround sound output
- 802.11a/b/g/n compatibility
- 138-bit wireless security
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