Crystal Video wireless HDMI kit
5GHz WHDI video streaming made easy, ish
Review WHDI really can send HD video across a house at 1080p resolution and without compression. But for the same money you could get a pair of Blu-ray players, so you've got to really care about streaming that content.
The technology was demonstrated at the CES event in January - and see Reg Hardware's WTF is... wireless HDMI - but now it's about to hit the shelves in the UK from multiple brands. I tested a generic dongle and receiver, manufactured in Shenzhen using chips from the standard's main backer, chip maker Amimon. Expect it to appear in the UK any day now branded by SAC Electronics and similar.
The transmitter dongle needs a dedicated power supply, fed into that mini USB port
The box comes with two components: the dongle, which hangs out of a player's HDMI port, and a router-sized box which one connects to the display device - TV, projector, etc - by HDMI. Both ends support HDMI 1.3 and HDCP. There's a weighted stand to hold the receiver vertically.
Hopefully, you like the upright Wii look in your electronics, otherwise you'll be blocking the vents on the side of the box as it lacks the usual rubber feet. That said, I ran the receiver flat on a table for an hour or two without any sign of overheating. But the manual states it should be kept upright to improve reception, so it's best to get used to the vertical look.
The dongle, on the other hand, did get hot - uncomfortable to the touch, even. But given the way it sticks out the side it's not easily touched. If you're used to Wi-Fi dongles then this is a monster, jutting out 80mm from the side of the laptop, it's also more than 20mm wide.
Worse, the dongle also needs a separate power supply which comes from a mini USB connection. A very short cable is supplied, as it's only expected to reach to the side of the same laptop, or to a USB port on the back of your Blu-ray box.
Almost zero config
I was keen to try the stick with a tablet, and managed to get a BlackBerry PlayBook connected up easily enough, though I had to use a mains transformer to provide the USB current - not the wireless solution you might hope for.
Both the dongle and receiver have only two LEDs by way of display, and unique among consumer electronics kit - as far as I can remember - neither of them is a power indicator. One light goes on when a connection is made, the other when video is being transmitted, so when the power is connected nothing happens at all.
The receiver works best when mounted vertically
But once both ends have power the "Network" indicator illuminates, and when video and audio is sent into the dongle it faithfully renders at the other end. The quality is all I could hope for. Despite passing two walls to get to my screen, the 5GHz signal didn't waver at all - until a third wall was interposed, at which point it dropped out completely.
Controls are limited to a single button on the stick, and an IR window on the receiver for the supplied remote control, one of the credit-card-sized models you tend to get with this kind of kit. It works, but you wouldn't want to use it very often.
Fortunately you won't have to, as the devices don't need much configuration.
The button is supposed to downgrade the picture quality to boost the range, but I couldn't see a lot of difference in either when it was pressed.
The core proposition - connecting HDMI devices to send HD video -works impressively well. Sadly, the rest of the experience is less fulfilling and the product feels a little too focused on the technology and not enough on the experience.
If you really need to send HD video wirelessly then this is a good way to do so. But you might want to wait until some of the more-trusted brands get involved. And hope that the price comes down too. ®
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