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Our first experience with Ultra Wide Band technology left us decidedly unimpressed. Gefen’s UWB-based Wireless USB Hub was both overpriced and uninspiring (who wants to pay $400 for a limited-range USB hub?).
Fortunately, we’re feeling more encouraged about UWB’s prospects after spending time with Warpia’s poorly named but pleasant-to-use Wireless USB PC-to-TV Audio/Video Display Adapter. The, umm, Wireless USB AV adapter is simple to install. Just plug one end into a USB port on your PC, and the other end into your TV via HDMI. (The unit has VGA and 3.5mm analog ports, as well.)
The adapter will then beam both the video and audio streams (a version without audio support costs $40 less) to a distance of up to 30 feet. The device is capable of streaming up to 1440x1050 resolution, although Warpia recommends that you stream video at 1280x720. The TV is treated as a second monitor hooked up to your PC, but you can also clone or just turn off your primary monitor if you want to. The device works in the 3.1GHz to 4.7GHz range and is intended for in-room use with mostly unobstructed line of sight, so don’t expect to watch video in your lead-lined safe room.
There is some compression applied to the stream, which you’ll notice on more pristine source material. For those who just want to view already piss-poor viral videos, this won’t be a problem. But you will definitely notice it on any of the HD streamed content from Vimeo, YouTube, or Netflix. So, temper your expectations or just build that HTPC instead.
Overall, the Warpia AV adapter is surprisingly satisfying. It’s a cheap way to stream video, albeit of marginal quality, but hell, if you wanted to do this with a notebook, you’d either have to buy a $1,000 Gefen 1080p streamer or invest in Intel’s Wireless Display technology. WiDi, as it’s called, requires a current-generation laptop and another $100 for the TV Adapter. That makes the Warpia AV adapter a fairly compelling piece of hardware if you can swallow its limitations.
Very affordable and simple to operate.
Limited to 30 feet in range; displays noticeable compression artifacts.