The modern computer is an amazing thing. It is a work device, a communication device, a jukebox, and a video machine. I don’t know about you, but I probably watch just as many shows through either iTunes or Hulu or Netflix as I do on my HDTV these days. Yes, a huge amount of video entertainment comes through our computers now. The real challenge is getting that video, and the accompanying audio, seamlessly pushed over to a large television for enjoyment. Apple is making a huge play in this area with their AirPlay technology, but that requires you to use one of Apple’s devices and to stream it over to an Apple TV. I love my Apple TV, but not everyone wants to deal with Apple and not everyone is going to get an Apple TV for that purpose alone.
A few months ago I tried a device that promised to be “plug and play”, so that you could simply plug a USB dongle into your computer and it would seamlessly pushed both the video and the audio over to your television. I was excited to see it in action but disappointed in the reality. (Why? You can read my review right here.)
It is for that reason that I jumped at the opportunity to take a look at Warpia’s new StreamHD. As the box explains
Stream HD media wirelessly from your PC to your TV. Movies, pictures, online content – anything from your PC! The fine print explained that it has a 30 foot in room wireless range, supports up to 1080p HD, supports 5.1 surround sound audio and includes all the cables you need.
Not surprisingly the fine print indicates that the system is DisplayLink certified. (I’m seeing quite a few important accessories that have this certification and in fact will be looking at another one in the next few days.)
While I received the StreamHD the other day. I was frustrated to discover that it only works with PC and not with Mac. A beta version of Mac software is available, but I didn’t feel it was fair to review the hardware based on early beta Mac support. Fortunately I had a PC review unit here at home so I could try it out. Would it be the same abysmal failure I encountered with the last streaming device? Read on and find out.
From the Company:
The StreamHD Wireless PC to TV Display Adapter allows users to watch and share any notebook or PC content (such as pictures, movies and presentations) and any Internet content on their Flat screen TV, projector, or monitor without cable limitations and in up to stunning 1080p HD
The PC Adapter connects to a USB port available in all notebooks & PC’s, and the A/V Adapter connects to an HDMI port available in flat screen TVs. Stereo audio is supported via the HDMI port (along with the video) or via a separate 3.5mm audio jack. Use the S/PDIF output for 5.1 surround sound for a stunning wireless audio/video experience.
The Wireless A/V Adapter set provides full room coverage, is easy to set up and use and is an ideal solution for home and office users alike. It incorporates Wisair’s WSR601 single chip and Wisair’s UltraSpeed technology, delivering the best combination of performance and cost.
I was pleased to discover that this is one of those accessories that comes with everything you need right out of the box. It doesn’t assume that you have an HDMI cable or an optical audio cable. No, it gives you everything upfront.
What’s in the box:
• Wireless USB PC Adapter
• Wireless USB Device Adapter (plugs into the A/V Base) with HDMI (Audio and Video), 3.5mm Stereo jack & S/PDIF 5.1 surround sound outputs
• HDMI & S/PDIF cables
• Power Supply Unit
• Quick Start Guide
• CD with software, drivers and user manual
The first step was to unpack all of the items in the box. Inside is the wireless USB HD adapter which consists of the HD base and a USB adapter. The reason for having the USB adapter separate will become clear in just a moment.
Also there is the wireless USB PC adapter. This is the item that goes into the computer once the software has been set up. The power supply cable is simply the wall adapter that plugs into the HD Base and the HDMI cable goes from the HDTV to the HD Base.
There is software that’s required, so I took the optical disk and put it in the Lenovo computer’s optical drive and within a few moments the software was loaded.
I then plugged the USB adapter into the computer.
The adapter pivots in the center so that you can have the adapter at any angle you need so that it is out of the way and not in conflict with other peripherals that are attached to the computer. It immediately began glowing blue.
I then plugged in the HD base and grabbed onto the USB device adapter.
The HD base has a small door in the middle of the front that can be lifted up or down. Lift it up and it reveals a USB plug. Put it down and it reveals – you guessed it – a USB plug. The reason for this, and the reason for the USB dongle being separate from the base, is that, depending upon where you’re going to place the HD base you may either want the dongle coming directly forward on a horizontal plane or rising up at a right angle from the HD base.
It is a small design element that shows that the company really thought through how this might be used and understands the variety of home entertainment arrangements people have and enjoy.
I plugged the USB adapter into the HD base and switched the source on my television over to that HDMI input.
This was the moment of truth. This was where the other device had completely fallen down. You see, with the other device it seemed to indicate that a connection was being established, but it rarely did. Most of the time it simply gave a message that it was continually searching for something. It was, in a word, an abysmal failure. (Okay so that’s two words, but deal with it.)
So I plugged in the USB adapters, switched over the source on the television and within a few seconds there was the computer right on the television screen. Better still the audio from the computer began to flow as I flipped through a number of different YouTube videos. The picture quality was decent while the audio quality was excellent. The system works and is quite simple to set up and use. WINNER!
The device costs $159.99. That may sound expensive, but consider — if you are interested in a product such as this, odds are you already have a computer and most likely you also have an HDTV. Sure, you can purchase a Roku player for about $59 these days, but then you will be limited to the content that is available through Roku. [Full disclosure: I love my Roku players]. You can buy an Apple TV for $99, but then you need to contend with Apple’s policies and the relatively limited range of media as they continue to sort through working with the various content providers. [More disclosure: I love my Apple TV, too!] And if you want to stream content to the Apple TV you’ll need to have another Apple device. That puts you way over the $159.99 that this product will cost you. In other words, the price tag might seem high, but for what this does I think it is actually quite reasonable.
So where can you buy one? Nowhere right now … but come April you be able.
If I sound enthusiastic about this product, it’s because I am. I was disappointed in the reality of the other device and I’m thrilled to see that this product realizes the potential of this sort of streaming. Very often there are videos or other kinds of media that the teachers in my synagogue’s school want to share with students. Finding the right cable and adapter is often a challenge for the people needing to use the TVs. This device will streamline that process, and it does something that I can see getting a good bit of use in our school.
What I Like: Simple set up; Includes all of the cables you need to get up and going in seconds; Works well
What Needs Improvement: Mac software currently in Beta