Asus Wavi review
High quality and very reliable right up to 1080p, but Asus’s WHDI screencaster has shortcomings and it’s a tad expensive too
Review Date: 16 Jun 2011
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: £158 (£190 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
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.
Author: Jonathan Bray
Pointless! - or have I missed the point?
So I'm sitting with my laptop in front of the telly, I have to find somewhere to put the transmitter box plus provide usb and hdmi connections plus another power supply. So now I have 2 power cables, usb cable and HDMI cable - that does not fit my definition of wireless! Plus it only works with a PC with HDMI output. I see a very limited potential market for this gadget.
By milliganp on 16 Jun 2011
@milliganp - lots of modern desktop PCs and laptops have HDMI sockets, and even those that don't are increasingly likely to have a DisplayPort socket, with DisplayPort to HDMI adaptors available very cheaply.
I'm thinking the various competing producers of wireless video links are each striving to become the market standard, so that other manufacturers license the tech to build into future products. So your laptop and TV in 2 or 3 years may very well have this built in. For now, I agree the uses are limited (it's certainly a lot easier just to keep a flying lead and plug it into your laptop on an ad hoc basis rather than plug in this box), but given the range is quite decent I can see people getting something like this so they can remotely access a PC in another room from their big screen TV in the lounge. Running HDMI cables isn't always practical.
By flyingbadger on 16 Jun 2011
Yes you have most certainly missed the point.
Why on earth would you want to use such a device with a laptop? It is designed for high end multimedia desktops pcs, with its main use being video playback and gaming.
By adbee on 20 Jun 2011
Homeplug HDMI devies due out later this year will be easier to install, more flexlible and more reliable.
By mickduffy1 on 22 Jun 2011
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