Actiontec MyWirelessTV Review
See the title above? It could just as easily be “How easy is this? — because wireless transmission of video signals has never been simpler. For anyone who’s had to deal with early generations of video transmissions at home, MyWirelessTV will knock their socks off. Because what it does it not only does well,– that being Full HD 1080p video streaming — but does so effortlessly.
This video transmission system is so straightforward to use that this review has to follow suit. You’ve got two smaller than paperback books-sized boxes; one is the transmitter and the other is the receiver. If they weighed any less you’d think that you were imagining holding them in your hand. Both are designed for horizontal placement and each gets its power from an AC brick. The front end of the transmitter has a sync button, a mini-USB socket and a recessed reset button. The receiver’s front end parallels this, with the exception of the USB socket being full sized and there being no reset.
Turn both around and there’s the power socket and an HDMI output to go to the TV/display (in the case of the transmitter, this is a pass-through that usually isn’t needed). The transmitter also has a HDMI input for the video signal that is to be sent as well as an IR reception socket — more on this in a bit. Moving over to the receiver, you have a recessed reset button and an IR socket.
Okay, lets get to that IR. Assuming that the transmitter is in one room and the receiver in another, connected to a TV, how can you control the video source device since you can’t get line-of-sight for its infrared remote? By using IR cables, is how. One cable goes into the transmitter’s IR socket and another into the receivers’. You aim the remote at the receiver’s IR cable so it can beam through to the transmitter’s IR. Of course you know that you have to put the IR bulb coming from the transmitter next to the IR panel of the video source device.
So in theory there’s not much to do — you power up the transmitter and receiver, having first attached HDMI cables to the appropriate places: in my example, the Sony Blu-ray player in the bedroom is sending the video to my front projector in the living room. Total distance straight line: 90 feet. The folks who make MyWirelessTV say that you can transmit up to 150 feet with no sweat — once I’m done with his test we’ll move the player onto the balcony for another 30+ feet and introduce cement into the mix of signal going through plasterboard, wood studs, etc.
Now a press of the Sync button on each unit has the two “handshake” each other. Usually this is unnecessary, but if the green light on each isn’t present, do this to manually sync the two (a power glitch made this necessary so I reinserted both AC plugs into sockets on uninterruptible power supplies at each location). Now how is the video and multichannel audio making its way? No proprietary exoteric wireless tech here — it’s the same 802.11 N most of us have for our home networks. Of course in this case the signal is narrowed to just connect between the two. This is a good way to implement streaming video — whether it will interfere with my existing network or the networks of my neighbors is still to be seen.
So I turn on the projector and while it warms up, I go into the bedroom and turn on the Blu-ray player. In goes the BD disc of Ghostbusters and back to the living room go I.
Okay, I’m seeing GB on the projection screen. I aim the BD player’s remote at the receiver and press “Pause.” Cool – the image onscreen freezes. I spend the next 10 minutes running through scenes and freezing frames so I can look at them up close. A bit of film grain is evident in GB, not unexpected due to its age, but the quality is definitely there. Since there’s no way to eject the disc and put another one in without physically going back to the bedroom, I’m going to count the time spent as the aerobics for the day.
I played a number of other Blu-ray discs and couldn’t see any difference in the image compared to it being physically connected — no interference problems developed during the 10 hours spent. And did I mention that the system handles 3D films just fine? Consider it mentioned.
I repeated the test by moving the player onto the balcony. I also took the opportunity to have the output from the receiver go into my amplifier rather than directly into the projector. This let me access the audio being transmitted along with the video signal. The video was fine and no surprise that the audio was also.
There are other wireless video transmitters on the market that do 2D/3D transmissions and the prices are close enough to each other to make price not much of the issue (MyWirelessTV retails at $229). Why get MyWirelessTV over another? You can’t point to the fact that you can add multiple receivers because other systems do that too. But I’m not aware of other systems that let you access USB control. That means if you have your PC or laptop as the video source, you don’t have to stand next to it to use the keyboard or mouse — because there’s those USB sockets on the transmitter and receiver, remember? Connect the transmitter’s USB to a USB port on the computer and when you plug a keyboard or mouse into the USB socket on the receiver, hoo-ha. Take that Google TV!
But it gets even better as I found out. Actiontec says that the latency of the video is short enough that you can play games without fear of having to play catch-up from controller to screen action. So I swapped the Blu-ray player for my PS3 and plugged the standard USB controller into the USB socket on the receiver (also made adjustment on the transmission — see later on). I could now navigate around the PS3’s home screen and — since I’ve games on the hard drive — there was no need to physically be at the game console. Did I see any lag in game play? No — much as I’d like to blame technology for my continuing to be killed far too soon in Call of Duty. Guess I’ll have to start blaming the fluoride in the water from now on….
But then my nephew came over, saw the setup and said he’d give it a real test. To him, that meant setting up the Xbox 360 instead and popping in the disc of Resident Evil — Operation Raccoon City. Knowing better than to get in the way of him and his gaming, I sat back and watched a master display reflexes I used to have — back when the NES was considered big whoopee. His fingers seemed to fly over the pad, and from his grimacing, I could tell it was from not being able to do what he wanted to, not that there was any latency lag he could blame it on.
You get a full range of accessories in the package: two HDMI cables along with the IR cables and a USB adaptor for use with future firmware updates (Actiontec has an online video to help you with this). There’s also a mini-sized remote control that accesses items such as multiple input choices (should you have multiple transmitters), labeling multiple units , etc. The most useful feature is selecting “Theater mode” in the Latency menu, since otherwise you’re sacrificing video quality for speed in the setting designed for video game use. You can also lock in a wireless channel, should you be concerned about interference issues with other networks that are in range. Me, I just let the units do their thing on automatic. You can also check the signal strength in the Advanced Settings.
Bottom line: Actiontec says that Multi-Unicast will be upcoming to allow for sharing a multi-player game from different rooms and displays — but for that you’ll have to wait and see. That’s pretty cool, but what MyWirelessTV does right now is plenty cool enough. Just as we’ve come to expect high-speed broadband and mobile devices connecting to the “Cloud” as commonplace, so too has wireless video transmission come of age.
- Full HD 1080p resolution
- 3D compatible
- USB pass-back control
- Transmitter/receiver requires open space for sufficient air flow
- Audio incompatibility with some Macintosh computers
- Quick start guide only (full manual online)