Veebeam HD review
Modern media streamers are flexible things, but they’ll never quite be able to match the flexibility of a laptop or PC when it comes to streaming media. The Veebeam HD (there’s also a cheaper, standard definition version) is designed to bridge that gap, by simply sending the contents of your laptop screen, via wireless USB (WUSB), directly to your HDTV. It’s a great idea, letting you take advantage of the richness of internet video services, from YouTube and SeeSaw to 4oD and iPlayer.
As well as streaming the contents of your screen, the Veebeam software can also operate in Play To mode, allowing you to stream files directly without having to display them on the laptop’s screen. You just download and install the Veebeam software, remove the USB dongle from the cradle and plug it into a free socket on your laptop.
It’s simple to use and the specifications are good too. Connections comprise HDMI for output resolutions of up to 1080p and composite video for standard definition. There’s a pair of stereo RCA jacks and an optical S/PDIF for audio output, and a pair of USB sockets too, although these are used only for pairing new dongles and updating the firmware.
Performance, though, is a mixed bag. It starts well: the USB dongle has a range of about 10m and requires line of sight, but since it operates in a different frequency band to 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless devices, interference shouldn’t be a problem. Everything we played on our test Core i5 laptop streamed smoothly, and the picture quality was crisp, colourful and free from compression artifacts.
It doesn’t work quite as well on all laptops and PCs, however. If your machine runs at or near-full CPU load when decoding a particular video file or stream, it may not stream smoothly to the Veebeam. This is because on top of decoding the video, your PC must also re-encode it on-the-fly for sending back out.
On a slower Core 2 Duo machine (with a 2.53GHz T9400 processor), we found the Veebeam software added 20% to the CPU load and dropped frames regularly. Veebeam recommends a minimum of a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. It’s also worth noting that Veebeam recommends a maximum input resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 when you’re screencasting.
But to compensate for this, the Play To mode is far more forgiving. Right click the Veebeam icon and choose the Play file option, and you’ll be able to stream video files all the way up to 1080p, even on a low-power laptop. File support runs to whatever codec you have on your system, and we found a 1080p MKV clip streamed perfectly with a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo CULV laptop.
That makes the Veebeam HD a flexible piece of kit enabling not only good quality HD screencasting but also smooth, fuss-free video file streaming. It isn’t perfect, and owners of older laptops or netbooks may want to take pause, but as a slick way of getting video from a laptop to your TV, it’s hard to beat.
|Dimensions||120 x 120 x 80mm (WDH)|
Audio format support
|Other audio codec support||DTS|
Video format support
|Other video codec support||MKV|
Ports and communications
|UPnP media server?||yes|
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