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Maximum PC Staff Apr 07, 2011

StreamHD Wireless PC-to-TV 1080p Display Adapter Review

At A Glance

UPSTREAM

Surprisingly high-quality video at 720p; decent quality at 1080p.

DOWNSTREAM

Some compression artifacting; advanced 3D games don't work.

Wireless video with surprisingly high quality

Last year, Warpia’s Wireless PC-to-TV AV adapter convinced us that ultra-wideband was a viable means of wirelessly transmitting video, so we were enthused to hear about the company’s StreamHD, which is capable of transmitting 1080p video from a PC to another display. We were even more enthused to find out that it actually works.



Much like last year’s offering, the StreamHD consists of two parts. You plug a USB dongle into your PC, which communicates with a base unit that plugs into any display’s HDMI port. After installation, Windows sees the Warpia-created screen as another display, meaning you can duplicate it, extend it, and rearrange it as you would with any extra screen. The StreamHD also transmits sound, which will automatically play via HDMI, but the base unit also has an optical-out port and a 3.5mm analog-out port so you can connect it to other sound devices.

We found the StreamHD capable of transmitting video at distances of up to 22 feet with very little degradation or stuttering. The greater the distance, the more important line of sight is.

So how does it all work out? Pretty great. We tested the Stream HD across a variety of system and room configurations involving laptops, desktops, projectors, and big-screen TVs. We tested the device in the Maximum PC Lab, a home office, and a fairly typical living room setup. In all cases, we found that the StreamHD not only works, but it works surprisingly well.

When we streamed HD videos from Vimeo’s website in 720p to our Epson 1080p projector, we were surprised to find that the two versions were nearly indistinguishable from each other. There was a tiny bit more compression artifacting visible on the big screen, but you had to look carefully to find it. When we challenged the StreamHD by transmitting a Blu-ray rip of V for Vendetta from our laptop to a 46-inch LED display, we were pleasantly surprised. Yes, there was noticeable banding, particularly in dark scenes, but it wasn’t anything near as bad as we expected. In short, it was watchable.

With fantasies of playing Total War: Shogun 2 on the big screen with no cables, we tested the StreamHD with gaming. This took a bit of Windows wrangling; we had to set our projector as our primary display, and even then we experienced bad enough flickering that the game was pretty much unplayable. Whether it’s a driver issue, bandwidth issue, or simply some weirdness of trying to shunt the Direct3D stream to another device, we don’t know. But we do know it doesn’t work.

So you can’t have it all, but we still consider the StreamHD an invaluable and convenient asset for tethering a PC to a big screen—or any size screen, for that matter.

$160, www.warpia.com

THE VERDICT

StreamHD Wireless PC-to-TV 1080p Display Adapter

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