Over the past few months we have had the opportunity to look at a number of devices that are designed to stream content from your computer to you HDTV. One of them left me rather cold. A second worked fairly well but still didn’t rise to the level of wowing me. So when I was offered a chance to check out the McTiVia streaming system my interest was piqued. After all, the McTiVia did win Best of Show at this year’s Macworld.
From the Company:
McTiVia is the first device that can show all content of your Mac® as well as Windows® computer on your TV wirelessly.
You can control up to 8 PCs easily with your mouse and/or keyboard.
You can share any content from your computers with your friends and family in your living room.
Wirelessly brings Mac screen to TV with synchronized audio
Remotely operates your Mac from TV with standard USB mouse/keyboard
Also works as a home wireless access point
Additional PC sender for Windows 7/Vista included
Experience your video and pictures on your big screen TV instead of crowding around a small computer monitor!
Sit back, relax and enjoy music stored in your Mac through your big loud speakers in the big living room!
Use your big screen TV to play PC games – show off your gaming skills to friends and families in the living room!
Surf the web from your couch! Access TV shows and movies online, or go anywhere a browser takes you to!
Leave your computers where they are, and control them via a standard USB mouse/keyboard from the couch!
Use your iPhone or Android phones as a mouse/keyboard to control your PC!
When the McTivia arrived I was immediately impressed. The box has the look and feel of something that would come from Apple. And, while the rabbit ears are not very Apple-esque, the picture of the device looked like some nice industrial engineering went into this system. But boxes and pictures only go so far don’t they. Would the McTivia really stand out from the other streamers I have seen? I would soon know…
Inside the box I found the device itself, the two rabbit ears, a power adapter, various prongs for the power adapter and an installation DVD. Unfortunately it does not come with an HDMI cable.
The McTivia itself looks and feels like a quality product. It is as substantial as it appears to be and has excellent build quality. This already made it stand out from the pack of other streamers since those were all made from fairly cheap plastic.
On the front of the device is a single power button.
On the back are (going from right to left), a plug for the power supply, the connector for one antenna, an HDMI connector, a connector for the second antenna, a USB plug and an Ethernet port.
Obviously the HDMI plug lets you connect the McTivia to your HDTV. The antennae are only needed if you are not going to connect your McTivia directly into your high-speed Internet service via the Ethernet port. It turns out there are a number of different ways to connect the device to the network and each has its own up and downsides. For example, the Ethernet connection is going to be the fastest and offer the least latency but it requires an Ethernet plug be near by. Using the antennae means you can place the MacTivia just about anywhere but it does offer less speed than the Ethernet approach.
The USB plug is there because you can connect a keyboard or mouse to the McTivia. This is a great option if you are using the HDTV as a computer monitor and is something I have not seen on any of the other streaming systems.
The rabbit ears connect easily if you take the approach that uses them.
Once connected you can adjust them for the best signal or fit if you are putting the McTivia on a shelf or in a cabinet.
The next thing you need to do is load the software that comes on the CD. Using a MacBook Air? No problem since you can also download the software.
With the software loaded and the McTivia turned on it was the hour of truth. I refer to it as such because one of the streaming systems I tried had a devil of a time making the connection between the computer and the streaming box/TV.
Would I have a similar problem?
The connection was made in seconds and the screen adjustment made the resolution a good fit for the TV. I quickly found that the company had gone the extra mile when designing the interface between the computer and TV by giving a number of options for how the streaming occurs. For example, if you are going to play a game you want the lowest latency possible. You can make an adjustment to do just that. If you don’t need that kind of latency you can instead trade it off for the clarity of the image.
Each change required the connection to be made between the computer and the McTivia again and each time it took mere seconds. I was impressed.
There are a few more points worth making. First, the McTivia has Wireless N built-in so that, if you are using the Ethernet approach for connectivity, it will act as a wireless access point. Second, the audio synchronizes perfectly. Third, its output is HD but it is only 720p.
This video is from the McTivia Web site and it give a pretty good overview of the setup and initial use of the McTivia.
So is the McTivia a winner? I would say- YES! More than any other streaming system I have tried it has the kind of polish and ease of use that consumers want and often need. The setup was easy, the initial use painless and the settings are pretty self-explanatory. We spend a good bit of time in the country during the summer and, in the past, I have brought a large monitor with me so I did not have to only rely on my 13″ MBA. Thanks to the McTivia I won’t have to. Yup, I already have a 32″ monitor there… It is called my HDTV!
The McTivia will run you $200 but if you want the ability to stream from your computer (actually up to 8 different computers) and need something that is easy to set up and use this is the device for you.
The McTivia really does add a huge amount of functionality to your HDTV. I can see why it won Best of Show at Macworld.
You can purchase it through the manufacturer’s Web site or via or here on our New Gear Daily Affiliate Store.
What I Like: Well made; easy to use; offers numerous connectivity options; audio is kept in synch; you can add a keyboard or mouse; acts as a wireless access point; can be used with multiple computers
What Needs Improvement: Does not ship with an HDMI cable; only 720p