If you're on the hunt for a wireless HDMI solution, options abound these days. The trick is finding the right type of product for your needs. Different wireless HDMI technologies have different capabilities, so it's easy to get confused.
The three main wireless HDMI platforms are WirelessHD, WHDI, and WiFi. WirelessHD can deliver 1080p/60 video and uncompressed multichannel audio, but it's really an in-room solution, for those who want to transmit the HDMI signal across one room. It has limited range and generally requires minimal obstruction between the transmitter and receiver.
WHDI and WiFi, on the other hand, can provide a whole-house solution, with a much higher range and the ability to transmit through walls and other boundaries, although signal quality can suffer minor losses at farther distances. This is the kind of wireless HDMI solution I was recently seeking when I came across Actiontec's MyWirelessTV kit, which carries a $229 MSRP but sells for under $150.
MyWirelessTV uses Actiontec's own 802.11n WiFi protocol that operates in the 5GHz band. It supports the transmission of a 1080p/60 signal (2D and 3D) and multichannel audio at a distance up to 150 feet. (WHDI also operates in the 5GHz band, with products generally listing a range of 100 feet.) The package includes two relatively small boxes that measure 4.75 by 4.125 by 1.25 inches. The transmitter unit (MTWTV-8400C0) has one HDMI 1.4 input to accept the signal from a source or AV receiver, as well as one HDMI 1.4 output to pass that signal through to a local display via an HDMI cable while you wirelessly transmit the signal to a remote location. That means you can send the same source(s) to two displays.
The wireless receiver unit (MWTV-8400C1) sports a single HDMI 1.4 output to connect to the display device in the remote location. The MyWirelessTV system allows you to use multiple receivers with a single transmitter (up to four total) and vice versa. Additional units cost $129.99 each. A single MyWirelessTV transmitter/receiver combo is not a matrix system, so you have to watch the same source on the "connected" TV. However, you can set up a matrix system by combining multiple transmitters and receivers, if desired.
The system supports IR pass-through, with supplied IR blaster/extender cables to connect on each end. That allows you to control the source device with its own remote control from the secondary location. A small remote comes in the package that is only for use during initial setup and to add multiple transmitters and/or receivers.
The reason I was interested in a multiroom wireless HDMI solution was because I had a houseguest coming for an extended stay and I wanted to get my Dish Network satellite signal to a TV in the spare bedroom without having to add another set-top box or run cable to that room. (Yes, Dish now offers a wireless Joey that would work with my Hopper, but that's a review for another day...and it would still require paying a monthly fee for another set-top box.)
I set up the MyWirelessTV transmitter in my living room, feeding it an HDMI signal directly from a Dish Network Joey and passing the signal through to the living-room TV. I placed the receiver unit in the remote bedroom, which is located across my house and on a different level. I connected the IR cables so that my guest could use the Dish remote to control that TV in her room. The setup was very easy, thanks to the clearly written Quick Setup Guide and color-coded IR cables.
It takes a few moments for the transmitter and receiver to power up and make a solid connection; but, once the connection was made, it proved to be very reliable in my home. My guest used the system for over month and reported no issues with signal dropouts and no problems controlling the Dish Network set-top box through the IR system. I had no concerns with picture detail, although the remote TV was only a 26-inch LCD.
It's worth noting that the unit is set by default for PCM audio output but can be changed to S/PDIF through the onscreen menu if you want to pass multichannel soundtracks. It's also set for Theater mode, which values video quality over speed, but you can change it to Game mode for lower latency (Actiontec claims latency of under 20 milliseconds).
Next, I moved the MyWirelessTV system down to my theater room to run through some official tests and experiment with other AV gear. Passing the signal from my Oppo BDP-103 player through the MyWirelessTV transmitter to a Samsung TV, I saw no meaningful loss in detail in resolution patterns from the Spears & Munsil Benchmark disc, and video sources looked clean and nicely detailed. One time, after shuffling different components in and out of the system, I noticed a bit of color smearing in the signal; a restart of the MyWirelessTV gear fixed the issue, and it did not return. I was able to pass a 3D signal to an upstairs TV, and switching between different resolutions was quicker than I've experienced with many WirelessHD systems I've tried.
On the downside, I experienced more connectivity issues when I moved down to my theater room. The MyWirelessTV system generally worked well with four different HDTVs I tried (from Samsung and Panasonic), but it was much more temperamental with the projectors I had on hand. The receiver unit worked fine with the Epson Home Cinema 2030 and LG PF85U projectors, but it never successfully established an HDMI handshake with the Sony VPL-HW30ES and Epson Home Cinema 5020UB (even though the system includes HDCP 2.0). Admittedly, both of these projectors can be finicky with the handshake sometimes, so the fault may rest with them. Still, it's still worth mentioning that, if you own display devices that are in any way temperamental in the HDMI authentication process, this product may struggle. (Actiontec told me that some compatibility issues are due to the way the HDCP is set up on a product. Sometimes the product in question needs a firmware upgrade because the unit assigns two signatures to one output, which prevents the MyWirelessTV from using it.)
Click over to Page Two for High Points, Low Points, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion ...
• The MyWirelessTV allows for wireless multioom HDMI transmission up to 150 feet, through walls.
• The system supports 1080p/60 video (2D and 3D) and multichannel audio.
• IR support lets you control the source component in another room.
• The transmitter includes an HDMI output to pass through the signal to a local display, so you can feed two displays through one system.
• The picture quality was very good.
• A USB back channel lets you use a wireless keyboard/mouse to control a computer remotely.
• You can add up to three additional receivers to one transmitter and use multiple transmitters with one receiver.
• The receiver unit can't be powered via USB, which is a convenient perk found on some competing products.
• The MyWirelessTV system could not establish the HDMI handshake with some of the projectors I had in-house, and it was at times temperamental when I added an AV receiver to the chain. I got the best reliability when transmitting directly from an HD source to an HDTV.
Comparison and Competition
Other whole-house wireless HDMI solutions include IOGear's $399 GWHDMS52 matrix system and $200 GW3DHDKIT non-matrix system, as well as Belkin's $250 Screencast AV 4 and Gefen's $400 Wireless for HDMI Extender. Actiontec is finalizing specs on a new MyWirelessTV 2 system that will have a smaller form factor and lower price point.
Actiontec's MyWirelessTV proved to be a great fit for my wireless HDMI needs, delivering a good-quality, highly reliable signal from a satellite box to an HDTV in another room. Is it the right fit for your needs? That depends on exactly what those needs are. If you want the absolute best video and audio quality sent wirelessly between a source and projector in the same room, then WirelessHD products are generally the better way to go. If, on the other hand, you need a flexible whole-house solution that supports the addition of multiple receivers and transmitters yet is easy to set up, the MyWirelessTV definitely deserves a look.