WirelessHD is one piece of AV technology that is, and should have been a no-brainer. However, the idea has been counterproductive by packaging and obscene pricing. Despite those realizations I still lauded the original DVDO Air for its near-perfect execution; in fact, it made such an impression that I gave it my Editors’ Choice pick – making sure to point out its niche appeal of course.
Even DVDO knew that something had to be done and now we have the Air3 WirelessHD Adapter (stylized as Air3), an updated transmitter and receiver kit that bridges a stable HDMI connection from your favorite device to any HDTV. It’s smaller, more efficient, and whole lot cheaper.
To make WiHD more affordable the Air3 has been reworked from the ground-up and downsized considerably, with measurements of 4”x3.5”x1” it undercuts the original model by almost two-thirds. Admittedly, some of the style is missing due to its streamlined shape but embedded screw points and included mounts makes it much more discrete for placement behind a TV or permanent ceiling installations.
Both units still require power and HDMI cables (which are also included), the difference this time is that the receiver is now powered through a micro-USB which can either be plugged into the wall with an included power adapter or feed directly off of a display with an available USB port; reducing the monotony of wall outlet usage and energy consumption, unfortunately the transmitter doesn’t get the same micro-USB power treatment too.
You can expect the same amount of ease and near-instantaneous synchronization when plugging everything up, and as usual the receiver is for the display and the sender is for the Blu-ray player/console/computer. Conveniently each is clearly labeled and the status lights help determine when the devices are pairing.
Using an Epson PowerLite 750HD projector as the display and a number of media sources, games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Mario Kart 8, and Tomb Raider (2013) felt seamless, while 3D stereoscopic films such as Jurassic Park and The Protector 2 were also smooth during playback. Issues such as clipping or video noise that’s usually common of other wireless high definition methods were nonexistent. Exclusive to the device but unable to fully test is smartphone and tablet mirroring through MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link), it’s like AirPlay except for Android devices.
And that’s where the advantages of WirelessHD and operating under a 60GHz band is most apparent. You get lossless data transmissions and all the necessary features that HDMI offers at the minor expense of keeping the devices in the same area and at a reasonable line-of-sight position of up to 30ft. This should work impeccably in large living rooms or personal home theaters.
But the Air3 isn’t totally flawless. Probably because of its size, and consequently narrower beam forming range we noticed that dropped signals occurred quite a few times. I thought it was unusual so I brought out the original DVDO Air for back-to-back testing under the same conditions just to see if anything else was amiss. When improperly placed in a high traffic areas or blocked by a wide object (or person) of about 1.5’ (18”) away the Air3 had a tendency to cut to a black screen — the Air on the other hand – exhibited none of these sporadic interruptions even when putting myself within an inch in front of the device. Unsurprisingly, the previous Air model (which was $400 when brand new) handles reception better due to its build quality and slightly larger dimensions and really has to be forced out of sync, while the Air3 requires a bit of creativity and is more suited for higher wall and cabinet setups. Not a deal breaker with expectations in check.
The DVDO Air3 WirelessHD Adapter continues the cord-cutting journey its forerunner began, and will amaze casual AV lovers. It’s neat, compact, and does turn your pricey home theater builds into a refined wireless hub. This is fantastic value for the money as long as it’s inconspicuously free of obstacles and nearby people, which is recommended to get the most out of most WiHD kits anyways. If you can avoid those issues you can’t go wrong with the Air3 or the recently released Air3C, which is even cheaper and retains everything except MHL.