I’ve often wanted an easy, direct way to share photos and videos from my computer especially when I have company over. I prefer to comfortably recline in my chair while narrating vacation photos and videos instead of having a bunch of people crowding around my computer screen and creating a claustrophobic environment.
Rather than invest in a traditional projector setup, hassle with wires and worry about the video and sound quality, IOGEAR now offers a solution that allows me to use my 55” LCD HDTV as a second computer screen. I can also hook it up to my AV receiver via HDMI input and have surround sound along with the HD video. My computer is instantly transformed into a multimedia player that’s able to play more media formats than any player out there, especially since I can find and download any driver off the internet.
The IOGEAR Wireless HD Computer to TV Kit (Wireless HD) is what makes this possible. All you need is to stay within 30 feet of the line-of-sight transmission space between your wireless dongle transmitter and receiver. If you have a laptop or your computer is in close proximity to your TV and you prefer not to use a wireless solution, IOGEAR also offers a USB 2.0 External HD Audio/Video Adapter (USB External HD A/V) that does the same thing. The USB External HD A/V adapter is well-suited for using with a laptop as there’s no need to install extra video cards and it’s powered through the USB connection.
Set Up, Listening and Watching:
Before you buy the Wireless HD kit, you should decide how you want to connect the receiver to your HD TV. The wireless receiver includes both HDMI and VGA outputs. If you want true HD, you’ll want to make sure you have a HDMI cable handy while setting up since it’s not included. IOGEAR does sell their own HDMI cables separately, but any HDMI cable should work. There was no visible, audible difference in quality between my personal cables and the IOGEAR’s HDMI cable, but IOGEAR's build quality and durability were excellent. The wireless receiver also has a 3.5mm audio jack for use in conjunction with video-only DVI, but the DVI-HDMI adapter is sold separately. The USB External HD A/V solution does not have VGA output so you must have the HDMI cable to start.
Once you figure out your video and audio connections, you’re ready to begin. I decided to test the setup in my living room using the HDMI cable to connect with my entertainment system and 55” Vizio HDTV. I later tested the kit in my bedroom where I have a less comprehensive setup with a 42” Vizio HD TV and stereo only instead of surround sound like my living room. For portability and ease of testing between my living room and bedroom, I connected the USB transmitter to my laptop instead of a traditional desktop computer, which can still easily be done if your desktop computer is in the same room as your HDTV.
The Wireless HD kit comes with a USB wireless transmission dongle, receiver with HDMI/VGA outputs and power adapter, and software for your computer. Plugging everything in was relatively easy; IOGEAR includes a diagram on how the pieces fit together. The USB External HD A/V is even easier to set up since everything just connects together.
The software was easy to install as well. Once software is installed and both receiver and transmitter are connected, your computer should let you know if a connection is established. You may also be prompted to check your monitor settings. If you don’t and your TV isn’t showing what you want to see, you should open up your display settings. You can choose to set your TV screen as an extension or as a duplicate.
I found setting it as a duplicate was easier to manage. Just keep in mind that when it’s a duplicate, everyone sees what you see on your computer as you’re navigating through. The extension screen option allows you to “throw” items you want your audience to view onto your TV. Although this option gives you more privacy to set up or find files while your audience is watching something else on your TV, I found it more unstable. I had trouble fitting things on the TV screen the way I want it to so the duplicate option was easier for me. I just didn’t have the patience to fiddle with it until it worked the way I preferred.
The Wireless HD kit promises up to 720p video streaming and supports resolutions up to SXGA 1400x1050. I connected the Wireless HD kit to my Marantz AV receiver that I use as a central HDMI switching hub which in turn is connected to my 55” HDTV. I did the same test with the USB External HD A/V and results were the same. High resolution photos looked beautiful with its full details displayed but the real fun started when I streamed video.
I used Netflix to stream some movies to test the video and audio quality. I did not expect the audio to sound as good as it did. I was surprised to have surround sound even though I had everything hooked up to my entertainment system. This surprise is probably due to my previous experience of streaming Netflix on my computer with sound through my computer’s stereo speakers. It was refreshing to stream a movie and hear all the sound effects in surround sound as it was intended.
I quickly learned that the video quality is only as good as the source. This seems like a no brainer but it wasn’t as apparent when I was streaming Netflix to my computer. Once it went on my HDTV, I saw all the pixilation. To make sure it was Netflix and not my connection or the Wireless HD kit, I played a home video shot in HD on my DSLR camera. The video came out clean and clear. Even though my HDTV goes up to 1080p, the home video was in good HD quality with the 720p transmission.
I did the same test in my bedroom and the pixilation from Netflix streaming wasn’t as bad because my HD TV was smaller but you can still see it. To further my theory, I pulled up an old cartoon from Netflix. Cartoons are low resolution to begin with and I streamed one from the 1980s before HD was even developed. The video quality was exactly as I remember it from watching it through my old tube TV.
To ensure video quality, you also need to make sure the transmission is not blocked. The Wireless HD kit requires both the transmitter and receiver to be in the same room, within 30 feet of each other and in line-of-sight. If someone stands in the way of the transmission, it will become jerky or freeze altogether. You won’t have this problem with the USB External HD A/V but your computer will be tethered to your HD TV.