Asus Wavi review

16 Jun 2011

High quality and very reliable right up to 1080p, but Asus’s WHDI screencaster has shortcomings and it’s a tad expensive too

Price when reviewed: 
190(£160 inc VAT)
4

We've seen a couple of devices offering to stream the content of your laptop or PC's screen directly to your TV. The Netgear Push2TV employed Intel's WiDi to achieve the feat, while the talented Veebeam sported wireless USB.

The Asus Wavi introduces yet another acronym to the mix: WHDI. The letters stand for Wireless Home Digital Interface, and the technology uses the 5GHz wireless spectrum to digitally transmit Full HD video signals – losslessly – from distances of up to 25m, and at bit-rates of up to 3Gbits/sec.

It has the backing of a number of big manufacturers with Sony, Samsung and Sharp among them, which are building the technology into their high-end TVs; the idea being to banish cables, leaving you free to place source components somewhere other than directly below the TV.

The Wavi lets you do the same, but with the output of a PC or laptop instead of a dedicated Blu-ray player. The system comprises two boxes: one is a transmitter to plug into your PC via USB and HDMI; the other is a receiver you connect to your HDTV. Setup is simple: install the driver, plug everything in and switch on the two boxes.

Asus Wavi

We had trouble getting the box to display the 1,600 x 900 native resolution of one test laptop, but at standard HD and SD resolutions it connected perfectly, allowing us to use Windows 7’s settings to either mirror our desktop to the TV, or extend it. There’s also support for 3D playback at 1080p.

To test it we set up a PC at a distance of 5m, with a couple of metal cabinets obstructing the signal, and threw on a selection of video files through the connection. Whatever played on the screen of our test laptop, also played smoothly on the target TV. We tried 1080p MKV files, online 1080p content, AVIs, MP4s and a whole tranche of others without a hint of a dropped frame. The Wavi can also stream copy-protected Blu-ray and DVD discs straight from the optical drive of your computer since WHDI supports HDCP.

There’s another twist too. At the rear of the receiver box next to the HDMI output you’ll also find a pair of USB A sockets. In conjunction with the USB connection on the transmitter and those drivers mentioned earlier, these allow you to connect a keyboard and mouse to control the transmitting PC – as if it were connected directly to your TV.

In practice, this allows you not only to watch TV programs, but also take full advantage of the gaming power of your PC. We tried it out, taking a quick jaunt through the jungles of Crysis, and with no apparent latency it was perfectly playable.

Asus Wavi

There are some niggles: the receiver box lacks any kind of audio output, so if you want to connect external speakers you’ll have to hook them up to your TV’s headphone or line-out connection. There’s only one HDMI input, and you may well find that you have to fiddle and fettle your software settings before you can get Blu-ray playback working.

The PowerDVD software we were using refused to work initially in mirror mode and we had to select the TV output as our primary display before it would display our test movies at all. The main problem, though, is the price, which at £160 feels a touch too high for something that effectively replaces a few cables.

No other screencasting product even comes close to matching the capabilities of these two boxes. Neither the Veebeam nor the Netgear Push2TV can stream Full HD or HDCP sources, and neither can boast of anything like the USB control feature either. But the Wavi’s limited connectivity, and that price tag do dampen our enthusiasm somewhat.