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IOGEAR Wireless HD Kit GWAV8141K Review

We review IOGEAR’s Wireless HD Kit which provides wireless HD video streaming for up to 4 devices

Introduction

At CES 2008, we got out first promises of wireless HD technology. At CES 2009 and again in 2010, more wireless HD prototypes were shown, but it was clear that the pieces were still in the concept phase and not likely to be hitting store shelves any time soon. Today, the technology itself still needs finessing; many require a line of sight between the transmitter and receiver and most use some sort of compression that adversely affects video quality. We were beginning to think that wireless HD would never come around.

Enter the Wireless HD Kit from IOGEAR. This piece not only promises a wireless range of up to 100 feet that requires no line of sight, but touts full 1080P/60 Hz video resolution. Armed with a wide range of inputs and capable of supporting multiple receivers, the Wireless HD Kit may just be the first truly useful wireless high definition system out there. We gave IOGEAR’s kit a spin, tested its various functions and pondered the possibilities.

Out of the Box

The IOGEAER Wireless HD Kit comes tightly packaged in a very small box. Inside, we found a very slim receiver and an identically sized transmitter, two power adapters, a business card sized remote control, two stands, an IR blaster, component to VGA cable and an instruction manual. Each of the receivers is gloss black and, when set in their stands, look just like a wireless internet router without any antennae. The display is blacked out with just a few backlit indicators that glow blue when the unit is powered up.

Features and Design

IOGEAR’s Wireless HD Kit is able to accept several different input types. The transmitter will accept two HDMI, one component video, one composite video, analog audio from either stereo RCA connectors or a 1/8” headphone jack. With so many options, you could conceivably connect a High Def DVR, Blu-Ray or DVD player, VCR and computer all at once.

The Wireless HD Kit transmitter will beam a signal up to four receivers within approximately 100 feet via 802.11 n wireless signal (similar to an internet router). Using the provided remote control, you can switch amongst different inputs to view any device that is connected to the transmitter. To control that device, an IR blaster is provided with each receiver that relays your device’s remote control signal to wherever the equipment is located.

The Wireless HD Kit is capable of handling up 1080p video at 60hz and up to 5.1 digital audio which, to the best of our knowledge, is the most advanced wireless audio/video technology available at the moment. To keep up to date, IOGEAR has installed a USB connection to enable firmware updates. They’ve also added a LAN connection that allows a transmitter and receiver to be connected via Ethernet cable. This would come in handy for those with installations that have equipment placed outside of the transmitter’s 100 ft. range.

Performance

Setting up the Wireless HD Kit was a relatively simple plug and play process. Unfortunately, the more devices you want to connect, the more plugging in you’ll need to do before you get to play. IOGEAR’s Wireless HD Kit does not perform any video up-scaling or conversion which means whatever goes in to the transmitter must also come out of the receiver. This process effectively doubles your cable requirements. Going in with an HDMI cable on the transmitter end requires you to come out with an HDMI cable on the receiver end and so forth. Using a home theater receiver to handle all of the video switching will simplify the installation considerably but may not be part of every end-user’s plan. If a home theater receiver is not part of your installation plan, we recommend cushioning your budget to include funds for extra cables.

 

For the purposes of our testing, we connected a Sony Blu-Ray player via HDMI, a Dish Network DVR, PC computer via VGA and 1/8” audio and a VCR using the A/V connections. We also connected the provided IR relay so that we could control our components from our monitor’s location which was about 75 feet away and on a separate floor from the source equipment.

All we had to do to get the Wireless HD Kit up and running was turn it on. We selected HDMI from the receiver location and powered up our Blu-Ray player. Next, we loaded up Avatar and began our video testing.

Avatar is a remarkably high contrast film with deep color saturation and smooth, jitter free movement. Through the Wireless HD kit, we felt that the image looked very good, but couldn’t help notice that there was some loss of its usual pristine video quality. While not obviously compressed or pixilated, the image seemed to have lost some of its richness, brightness and smooth motion. Since our testing display was only 37”, we have some concern that using a larger display may amplify these shortcomings. That said, the image was clearly from a high definition source and noticeably superior to an up-converted DVD version of the same film.

Using our connected HD-DVR, we tested both high definition and standard definition content. Here, we found that the image quality was on par with direct connections. We found the same to be true for our PC and VCR sources as well. At the end of the day, it seemed only the highest definition sources suffered from the wireless transmission and only slightly at that.

In the end, we felt that IOGEAR’S Wireless HD Kit did an excellent job of performing its primary task of getting high definition video and audio from point A to point B wirelessly. By using the 802.11 n wireless range, it managed to transmit a continuously clean signal without any interruption over a distance of 75 feet through all sorts of barriers, both structural and electronic. However, the Kit is not without a few hassles and hang-ups.

We found that switching inputs on both the wireless receiver and our monitor was a bit time consuming. Also, the IR blaster performance was hit-and-miss. We spent a lot of time repeating our remote commands through our testing period. Finally, without the use of a home theater receiver to simplify video signals, there ends up being a lot of cable connections which takes away from the notion of a “clean installation” and adds further expense to an already pricey piece of new technology.

Conclusion

It’s great to see that true high definition wireless technology is finally available and we applaud IOGEAR for bringing it to us into a consumer friendly piece. We feel that the IOGEAR Wireless HD Kit will appeal most to early adopters who are starting a new installation and encourage the use of a home theater receiver for larger systems to simplify installation. We can’t help but wonder, though, how far away this technology is from being incorporated directly into HDTV sets. When it is, it will be significantly more convenient and cost effective.

Highs:

  • Best Wireless HD image we’ve seen to date
  • Excellent wireless range (up to 100 feet)- no line of sight required
  • Built-in IR blaster

Lows:

  • Doubles cable requirements
  • Slight degradation of HD video quality
  • Digital audio limited to HDMI

1 Comment

  1. alterseekers says:

    That’s one awesome device for streaming from computers to an HDTV. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative though, I got just the device for you. Check out the Netgear Push2TV product. This device makes use of the HDMI port on the HDTV and acts as a wireless adapter, displaying what you see on your computer on to your HDTV. So instead of connecting the computer via an HDMI cable, the Netgear Push2TV takes its place, and wirelessly streams the contents of your computer even if they’re in separate rooms in the house. To know more about Netgear’s Push2TV product, just check it out here, http://bit.ly/bByST7. I’m sure you’ll love it too.

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