Published on September 30th, 2011 | by Greg0
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.