Review: DVDO Air Wireless HD
DVDO Air from Silicon Image subsidiary employs 60 GHz wireless HD (WiHD) technology for remarkable video at short distances.
Anything wireless can make an integrator pause, but wireless video can give us palpitations. So when I reviewed the DVDO Air wireless HD system, I didn’t expect much. I was pleasantly surprised.
The unit ($399 street price) arrived at the perfect time – one month after I had moved into a new place and had yet to find a way to connect my sources to my TV, without ripping up the walls of my rental.
DVDO Air comes from … wait for it … DVDO, primarily known for its video processing technology. The company was acquired by HDMI developer Silicon Image in 2000, so you know there’s some video smarts packed into the product.
The wireless technology is based on WirelessHD (WiHD), a 60 GHz solution for short-distance wireless HD video (not to be confused with Amimon’s longer-distance WHDI wireless HDMI). Silicon Image acquired the technology in 2011, so it’s no wonder that DVDO Air employs it.
I spied DVDO AIR at CEDIA 2012, but it seemed a little too good to be true: uncompressed 1080p video, 3D support and 7.1 surround. Then throw in CEC support, which I actually use a lot these days, it all sounded a little far-fetched.
Unboxing, Testing DVDO Air
Opening the box was a lot like opening any other box except for one thing: The good people at DVDO didn’t leave out any needed parts—something that is becoming a thing of the past with most manufacturers these days.
Included were both the sending and receiving units, the power supplies for both, HDMI cables for each end, and some mounting brackets for versatility.
Now, here’s the shortest paragraph I’ve ever written about an installation that includes HDMI:
I turned everything off, I plugged everything in, I turned everything back on. Done.
How does it perform? Honestly it works as well as a cable. The picture is on par with high-speed HDMI cables and the quality is definitely better than half of the HDMI-over-Cat5e/6 baluns that are out there.
There were none, and I mean none, of the usual issues with HDMI that most of us are used to. And to think this is all done in the air.
DVDO claims that interference is not an issue due to the fact that the product operates in the 60 GHz spectrum.
On the surface this makes sense since almost all portable devices and cell phones use lower frequencies. Same with Wi-Fi.
Even so, I tried everything I could throw at it—old and new cordless phones, about 15 cell phones, some laptops, ZigBee devices, and a host of other things, none of which blurred the HD video one iota.
And I tried yet another thing: testing the DVDO with an HP laptop that has WiHD built in. It worked flawlessly.
But what about legacy computers? I hooked the transmitter up to my laptop’s HDMI port and it worked right away. Using the display preferences on my laptop I could easily use any multiple monitor config available.
This made me think, however, what about those guys holding onto the past that have neither WiHD nor an HDMI port on their laptop? If you only have a VGA output, simply add a $50 VGA-to-HDMI converter to the already fair price of the DVDO Air and you have an easy-to-use instant conference room solution.
On the down side, I did come up with two shortcomings of DVDO Air, but given how well it works and how many problems it solves, I can certainly live with these limitations.
First, the DVDO Air transmitter and receiver need to be in the same room. The instructions say that distance is 30 feet (10 meters) “line of sight or bounce.” Since the word bounce just doesn’t sit well with me I went for line of site in my personal installation.
Second, the product can run hot. We know this simply by how well the product is vented. So keep that in mind while trying to hide the DVDO Air and make sure it gets some open space.
In the end this has to be one of the best products that I have ever used for wireless HDMI. It outperforms just about everyone out there, and with the ease of use and installation paired with a reasonable price ($399 street), why not?
DVDO Air: Key Features
- Connects any HD source (Blu-ray, cable or satellite box, notebook PC, audio/video receiver, DVR) to a DTV without any wires between them.
- Full HDMI compliance includes HD video and Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), which enables the DTV remote to control the source device (if source and TV are CEC compliant).
- 60 GHz wireless technology provides bandwidth for full 1080p uncompressed video with 7.1 surround sound.
- Easy installation — just connect transmitter to source, and receiver to a DTV.
- No interference with other wireless devices, which use much lower frequencies.
- Exclusive DVDO Air receiver mounting clip attaches to wall or to top of DTV, maximizing range and making installation easy.
- Part of DVDO’s tightly integrated home theater component line, including Duo and EDGE Green.
[Editor’s note: The WiHD technology was acquired when DVDO parent Silicon Image bought technology developer Sibeam in 2011.—Julie Jacobson]
Wireless HD Gains Steam with Panasonic, Samsung Investments (2008)
Best Buy, Cisco Invest in Wireless HD Chipmaker (2010)
Silicon Image Acquires SiBEAM for $25.5M (2011)
Picking a Wireless A/V Technology: 15 Key Considerations
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Most technology products are not that visually appealing. Black boxes and tangled wires do not add to the character of a high-end smart home project. Luckily, our integrator readers have a number of clever solutions so these components don’t have to be visible in your next project.
With over 20 years of experience in home systems installation and design as well as being an award winning product designer, Joe Whitaker currently is principal of the integration firm thethoughtfulhome.com. He is a current member of the CEDIA board of directors first elected in 2013 and is a frequent contributor to CE Pro magazine. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org
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