It’s amazing how some ideas can take eons to catch on, especially in the home theater market. Since its debut nearly half a decade ago WirelessHD (affectionately known as WiHD for short) literally came and just as quickly vanished from the mainstream consumer radar. This type of reception was of little surprise since the technology was so bleeding-edge that very few manufacturers were willing to take the plunge, and those that did produce WiHD-equipped HDTVs (in 2009 dollars) had a cost well over $4K as base price.
The desire of showing off clean and beautiful home installations haven’t brought up many options, except for dedicated videophiles with disposable incomes. Despite those caveats though, the DVDO Air WirelessHD Connection Kit finally makes the tech attainable for serious connectivity.
What we have is a fairly basic receiver/transmitter kit that could be mistaken for unassuming living room décor or trendy laptop speakers if it weren’t for the HDMI inputs and a scan/sync button around back. This is probably the intention since they’re meant to be discrete and easily blend in any environment. To complete the package you also get two short HDMI cables (to bridge the AV gear), two AC power supplies (for both the transmitter and receiver), and a plastic holder for optional wall mounting.
Painless is a good word to describe the DVDO Air’s installation setup. Simply plug the devices into an available power supply, run the HDMI cables to the receiver for the display (television/monitor/projector) and the air transmitter for the device (which handles the source such as an AV receiver/Blu-ray player/gaming console), and when everything is connected and turned on the devices automatically find and pair with each other and start transmitting signals. That’s it, you’re done.
Yes, it’s really easy to have your favorite HDMI setup break (mostly) free of the clutter and work without excessive tethering. During our tests we alternated between an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (for Blu-ray movies), a laptop, and a custom-built desktop – all of which were placed at varying distances of 8 to 24 feet (2.4-7.31 meters) away from the TV. The results were generally flawless in execution and produced an uncompromised picture and digital audio quality just as if they had been connected through standard HDMI cables. There was absolutely no evidence of noise or pixel artifacts even with resolutions of 1080p/60 being displayed. To top off the enhancements, surround sound is accounted for including current DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD, and generic 7.1 PCM audio.
The most impressive feat was how well the DVDO Air still managed a crystal-clear picture despite people casually walking through the stream. To see how well it handled interference we intentionally tried to cut the signal by putting our bodies directly in front of the devices or hide them behind random objects. We eventually did force the devices out of synchronization but even this required us to cover the entire unit or hide it deep underneath couch cushions to produce that black screen typical of HDCP crosstalk/handshake issues. Generally speaking, the DVDO Air worked just as advertised.
The reason for the DVDO Air’s capabilities is that WirelessHD utilizes an relatively unoccupied 60 GHz channel for extremely high frequencies and uncompressed data. The drawback is that the range is limited and line-of-sight setups are generally recommended, In addition, everything must be in the same room and not directly impaired by walls or cabinets to properly work. Under ideal conditions the maximum distance of 30-40ft should be more than enough for the biggest living rooms and grandiose DIY home theaters, however your personal results may vary.
WirelessHD has gradually transformed from ‘proof of concept’ into consumer reality, and the DVDO Air Connection Kit is one of the best WiHD devices available. However there are issues, like minor connection hiccups in some congested environments – and appeal, which still borders on the unconventionally niche or enthusiast-grade (ZyXEL’s WiHD Kit is cheaper and more robust in connectivity). These are reasonable compromises given just how seamless everything works. For videophiles who are heavily invested in their home theater setups or others obsessed with cluttered or dangling HDMI wires, here’s a solution that’s easy on the eyes and your living space if you’re looking for a sophisticated upgrade.