Netgear Push2TV review
The stream looks okay from a distance, but upon closer examination it’s clearly highly compressed, and looks much grainier and noisier than a cabled signal does. It doesn’t always cope well with ultra-high-quality 1080p video. One test WMV HD clip streamed fine at 720p but stuttered at 1080p. Don’t expect to be able to stream Blu-ray films and DVDs (legally) over the connection either; WiDi doesn’t play at all with copy-protected sources.
The second drawback is it’s fiddly to use. Although simple to set up initially, getting the image to fill your TV involves manually tweaking resolutions until you hit the right combination. Annoyingly, there’s no setting in the software to take the pain out of this for you. Neither is there any kind of quick switch to help you control your laptop’s power settings.
If your laptop is set to power off after a set amount of time, you’ll have to change this using Windows’ settings to ensure your viewing isn’t interrupted at a crucial moment. If you want your movie or TV program to continue playing after you’ve closed the lid, you have to set that up in the Windows settings too. None of this is rocket science, but it’s unnecessary hassle that could have been avoided.
There’s also a lot of lag between what happens on your laptop and what happens on the TV screen, presumably due to the need to buffer the video signal. This doesn’t cause any problem with lip sync, as audio is sent wirelessly at the same time as the video signal, but it does mean you need to use your laptop screen to carry out all Windows navigation – you can’t simply turn off the display and use the TV screen as it’s just too fiddle. Another irritation is you can’t use your laptop for anything else while the streaming is taking place, since it only works properly with cloned displays.
The final limitation is it doesn’t work with any old wireless chip. Your laptop has to have one of the new Core i3, i5 or i7 processors drumming away at its heart, it has to have Intel HD graphics, and it needs one of Intel’s recent family of Wi-Fi adapters too (either Wireless-N 1000, Advanced-N 6200 or Ultimate-N 6300).
There’s no doubt the system is clever. The ability to split the wireless stream in two means you can watch whatever online video content you fancy without having awkward cables running all over your lounge, and without the need for an awkward USB dongle attached to the back of the laptop. But the quality of image and the ease of use needs to be higher, or (crucially) the price of the adapter lower for this to be a success.
Software and OS support
|Operating system Windows 7 supported?||yes|
Audio format support
|Other audio codec support||any codec supported by source PC|
Video format support
|Other video codec support||any codec supported by source PC|
Ports and communications
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Wired adapter speed||N/A|
|RCA (phono) outputs||2|
|3.5mm audio jacks||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|