A few weeks ago we reviewed three wireless HD kits that promised to send through the aether your 1080p signals. They worked, more or less. Usually less.
What we wanted was pretty simple, to our minds. We wanted a kit that would send 1080p to the other side of the house, or through the walls of a cabinet at least, and switch sources. None fit the bill.
The IOGEAR GW3DHDKIT, with the no less ungainly moniker of “Wireless 3D Digital Kit,” is more expensive than the other products we reviewed, but it offers two HDMI inputs (the Actiontec had 1, Vizio/Rocketfish had 4) and a different technology than the other products. The Actiontec, though it worked over long distance, uses the same frequencies as your home’s wifi, and most cordless phones. There is a potential for interference, which I noted a possible occurrence of in the review. It also didn’t have any switching.
The Vizio and Rocketfish use the WirelessHD standard, which runs at 60 GHz. While this is well above anything else you’ve got going in your home, it is extremely susceptible to physical interference. Even walking in front of it, in some cases, would cause it to lose signal.
The IOGEAR runs at 5Ghz, and has two HDMI inputs. A button on the receiver and transmitter can switch between sources, or you can use the supplied remote. The boxes themselves are a little smaller than the Rocketfish and Actiontec (the Vizio is different shape). The receiver can fit is a little bigger than the palm of my hand, the transmitter about twice that (though I have pretty big hands).
In perhaps the most brilliant piece of smart engineering I’ve seen on a product lately, the receiver can be powered by USB. As many new TVs have USB connections, you can power the receiver off the TV itself. So all you need for that dreamed about “hang on the wall” install is a single power cable for the TV. Cool. There’s even an IR repeater so you can control the sources from the second room.
Keep in mind, though, that if you’re planning on using a receiver and separate audio system and using the IOGEAR in a single room, there is a bit of a delay compared to running an HDMI cable. So make sure your receiver has some sort of lip-sync control.
If you want to run two TVs off the same source, there’s an HDMI pass-through in the transmitter to run a TV in that room.
There are few things in electronics that are more “Your Mileage May Vary” than wireless distance. Everyone’s house is different, but I was consistent in my testing, so there’s at least a relative comparison here to the three other wireless HD kits we’ve reviewed.
To review, I plugged the transmitter into a Blu-ray player outputting 1080p/60. The receiver I placed at the other corner of my house, plugged into an LCD TV. This is about 50 feet. I’ve learned that my house is made of lead or something, as I don’t usually get the distance claimed by most gear. There’s about 3 walls between the transmitter and receiver.
At this distance, on the 37-inch I used for testing, there was no noticeable degradation in picture quality, even with 1080p/60. That’s huge. The Vizio and Rocketfish from the original test couldn’t hope to do anything like this.
However, with the receiver in the same place, I ran a long HDMI cable back to the theater to judge the picture quality on my projector. In this setup, a small, but noticeable, degradation in picture quality was apparent. There was noise, a graininess to the image, most noticeable along edges and in fine detail. On the small LCD screen, this wasn’t apparent, but blown up to 103-inches, it was very noticeable. Subjectively, I’d say it reduced picture quality 20-25%. Moving the transmitter about half the distance to the transmitter, the picture looked perfect. This is interesting, as the normal “fail mode” of digital signals is all or nothing. Losing some slight picture quality at extreme distances is probably a reasonable tradeoff for many people.
So depending on distance and the build of your house, you may get perfect picture at long distance, or OK picture at long distance. IOGEAR claims 100 feet, which I doubt unless you’re outside in a field in Montana. Maybe you can get some sort of picture at that range, but not at my house (not least because 100 feet from the transmitter is my neighbor’s house).
Had the IOGEAR arrived in time to be a part of our initial review, it would have unquestionably won. It works a little better at distance than the Actiontec, and has HDMI switching. Sure it’s more expensive than any of the others, but in this case you’re paying for something that actually works so I don’t think it’s a big deal. More inputs would have been better, as who only has two HDMI sources these days? It also is pretty boring to look at, compared to the Rocketfish and Vizio. These are small complaints for one of the only HDMI transmitters that works at any decent distance.
The IOGEAR GW3DHDKIT Wireless 3D Digital Kit is currently $349.95 atAmazon. HDGuru.com awards the Wireless 3D Digital Kit a ♥♥♥♥.5 out of ♥♥♥♥♥ heart rating.
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