Netgear Push2TV review
Clever use of technology, but WiDi lacks polish and the price is too high
On-demand internet TV is a fact of life these days, but it's struggled to make the transition from the computer to the living room in a consistent manner. Although BBC iPlayer and YouTube enjoy support across a number of playback devices, you've typically needed a media-centre PC to watch anything else. That's a problem the ingenious Netgear Push2TV aims to solve.
It's part of a new wave of "screen-casting" devices that takes whatever's on your laptop screen and displays it on your TV. Think of it as a way to turn your laptop into a giant remote control and you're almost there.
The device itself is almost disappointingly simple: it's small, black and nondescript, with just a couple of connections on its rear panel - HDMI and composite - for outputting a 720p or standard definition signal to your TV.
The clever stuff happens at the laptop end. Since the system uses the wireless chip in your laptop, coupled with Intel's Wireless Display software, there's no need for a separate adapter. To get it up and running you just launch the application, select the Netgear box from the list and hit connect. Your system then sees the TV as a duplicate monitor and displays screen content to it - just as if you'd plugged it in via the laptop's physical HDMI port.
And it works pretty well, all things considered. Connection, as we've explained, is a doddle - and once you're up and running, you have access to any online video content on your TV. The WiDi connection doesn't completely hijack your internet connection, so whether it's BBC iPlayer HD, SeeSaw or 4oD, you'll be able to watch it full screen wirelessly. We tested from a variety of distances and found the stream to be pretty solid out to about 3.5m, after which the picture began to break up and stall. That's enough to cope with most living rooms with ease.
Using your laptop to browse to and display video on your TV is certainly convenient, but there are drawbacks. The first is quality: don't get the idea that watching video, especially high-quality streams such as BBC HD, via the Push2TV is exactly like connecting an HDMI cable to the back of your laptop; it isn't.
Software and OS support
|Operating system Windows 7 supported?||yes|
Audio format support
|Other audio codec support||any codec supported by source PC|
Video format support
|Other video codec support||any codec supported by source PC|
Ports and communications
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Wired adapter speed||N/A|
|RCA (phono) outputs||2|
|3.5mm audio jacks||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|