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Published on September 30th, 2011 | by Greg

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ZyXEL AeroBeam: Impressive Wireless HDMI

We’ve got a chal­leng­ing video set­up. We imag­ine some of you do as well- a big re­ceiv­er up front with your con­soles and an HDTV pro­jec­tor around back. You can run a ca­ble here- we used a re­al­ly lengthy HD­MI ca­ble that took some work to string along the ceil­ing and looks pret­ty bad. Or you can find a wire­less so­lu­tion, one that al­so could fit in a va­ri­ety of oth­er sit­u­a­tions- con­fer­ence rooms where you need to switch sources be­tween lap­tops for in­stance. There are sev­er­al of these out there, us­ing dif­fer­ent stan­dards. To­day’s mod­el of­fers the best video we’ve seen yet, with­out tak­ing up valu­able spec­trum used by your router and in­ter­net or cord­less phones. We’re talk­ing true 1080p and 7.1 chan­nel au­dio, and even sup­port for 3D.

The ZyX­EL Aer­oBeam Wire­less HD Video Kit (WHD6215) had us in­ter­est­ed from the specs alone. And we’ve checked out their gear be­fore- their mo­bile wire­less router was sol­id. But wire­less video is a very dif­fer­ent mar­ket, and even a sol­id com­peti­tor’s prod­uct fo­cused on com­put­ers alone had enough flaws to make us hold off on rec­om­mend­ing ditch­ing ca­bles from the tallest build­ing in town, and it didn’t even of­fer mul­ti­ple in­puts. Open­ing the box we were greet­ed with some­thing pret­ty fu­tur­is­tic look­ing- a geeky dream, or night­mare, de­pend­ing on how much you love or fear curvy black plas­tic. Us­ing the Wire­lessHD 1.0 spec, it trans­mits up to 4Gbps on the 60GHz fre­quen­cy. If none of that made sense, don’t wor­ry.

Ba­si­cal­ly, you plug on box in­to your de­sired source(s) and the oth­er in­to your TV or pro­jec­tor. You’ll need HD­MI sources- this box won’t ac­cept RCA or VGA or any­thing else. The re­ceiv­er is small­er than the trans­mit­ter, and you can con­nect up to four in­de­pen­dent de­vices as in­puts- like your ca­ble box, Xbox 360, PS3, and per­haps a com­put­er. Switch­ing can be done on the fly, and was im­pres­sive- there isn’t a lot of time spent wait­ing for the source to con­fig­ure and the pro­jec­tor to ad­just. You don’t need to fid­dle with much in the way of but­tons for pair­ing; they find one an­oth­er au­to­mat­i­cal­ly. Of course, both box­es will re­quire pow­er- hope­ful­ly you have a spare out­let on each end.

The on­ly is­sue? Range. These can on­ly trans­mit about 30 feet, a num­ber which was seemed about ac­cu­rate… as long as you have line of sight. Our pro­jec­tor was ceil­ing-mount­ed with the HD­MI port in the rear, so we had some re­al trou­ble get­ting it work­ing even at 15 or so feet. And don’t both­er try­ing to send the sig­nal through walls! On the oth­er hand, the au­dio and video are amaz­ing­ly im­pres­sive- we had the chance to switch im­me­di­ate­ly from the ex­ist­ing ca­ble to the wire­less ver­sion and it was ex­treme­ly hard to tell the dif­fer­ence. Frame rate, col­or, and even au­dio qual­i­ty seemed quite com­pa­ra­ble!

Priced at around $200, the Aer­oBeam Wire­less HD kit isn’t for ev­ery­one. And, of course, you still need some ca­bles- you need to con­nect to the trans­mit­ter and re­ceivers, and we would’ve loved a small­er don­gle-like re­ceiv­er unit that re­quired no ca­ble at all. But it’s an ex­cel­lent so­lu­tion to a grow­ing prob­lem, and though it might not of­fer the range we would like, it does of­fer the top-notch au­dio and video qual­i­ty we need. Avail­able wide­ly on­line, rec­om­mend­ed- the best wire­less HD­MI so­lu­tion we’ve tried.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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