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Hands On

I have what I consider to be a fairly typical HDTV setup. In my living room, the HDTV sits on top of a cabinet that contains my cable box. I planned to connect my cable box, using My Wireless TV, to an HDTV in my upstairs office. Since I don’t have an HD cable box in my office, MyWirelessTV would let me use the downstairs HD cable box, which also has a built-in DVR, to stream HD content to my office. Clearly, that should give me a better viewing experience than just using a Comcast digital transport adapter (digital cable to analog RF channel 3).

Following the quick start guide, I connected the HDMI port on my cable box to the HDMI input of the transmitter. I used a supplied HDMI cable to connect the HDMI output port to my TV so that I could continue to watch the TV in my living room. Since I planned to use MyWirelessTV in separate rooms, I also connected the IR Blaster cable to the IR port on the transmitter. Similarly, I connected the HDMI port on the receiver to an unused HDMI port on my office HDTV and connected the IR extender (green color-coded) to the IR port.

The moment of truth – I plugged in the transmitter, grabbed the Comcast remote control and headed upstairs to my office. (For those inquiring minds out there, receiver and transmitter were 30 - 40 feet apart with a sheetrock/wood frame floor and wall between them.)

I switched the input on my TV to the port connected to the MyWirelessTV receiver and then connected the receiver to power. After about 30 seconds, the green sync light on the front panel of the receiver stopped blinking and shortly thereafter, the 1080i signal from my cable box appeared on my screen. That was exciting – the product worked the way it was supposed to!

The only difficulty I experienced was with the IR blaster. Initially, the Comcast remote control didn’t work at all in my office. After a few trips downstairs to reposition the IR blaster in the correct location near the cable box, the remote control worked. I have noticed some latency using the remote control, however. And, on occasion, I have to press a key more than once to get it to register.

The picture quality on the screen attached to the MyWirelessTV receiver was excellent. It was displaying 1080i – the highest quality signal available from my cable provider. The audio and video seemed perfectly in synch. The Actiontec data sheet indicates that MyWirelessTV uses low-latency H.264 compression and claims < 20ms of latency. Standing on the stairs, halfway between the source TV and the remote TV, I could hear only a slight delay in the audio – almost like an echo in a large room. But watching either TV, the audio was in synch with the video.

MyWirelessTV does have a user interface should you need to do any manual configuration. The user interface is only available on the HDTV connected to the receiver. Included with MyWirelessTV is a small remote control (Figure 6) used to navigate the user interface.

MyWirelessTV remote

Figure 6: MyWirelessTV remote

Pressing the menu button in the upper right corner of the remote brings up the Main Menu shown in Figure 7.

Actiontec MyWirelessTV Main Menu

Figure 7: Actiontec MyWirelessTV Main Menu

Here’s a brief summary of each menu:

Select source – This lets you select the HDMI source

Configure – In this menu, you can add or delete transmitters and label transmitters and receivers in a multi-device configuration.

General Settings – This menu lets you selects a language (currently only English is supported), Latency mode and the wireless operating channel. For latency, you can choose either Theater mode which prioritizes video quality or Game mode that prioritizes speed.

Advanced Settings – The menu shows System information as shown in Figure 8: You can also use this menu to reset to factory defaults.

Advanced Settings

Figure 8: Advanced Settings

Torture Test

Of course, this wouldn’t be a SmallNetBuilder review if we didn’t find some way to torture test a product. MyWirelessTV presented us with a challenge, as it’s a simple device that requires no configuration and has almost no knobs to tweak. However, I did set up a test to see how MyWirelessTV handles contention for bandwidth.

My HDTV has built-in dual-band Wi-Fi and is a smart TV with built-in applications to stream content from the internet. It’s set up to connect to my home network on the 5 GHz band and I regularly stream NetFlix movies wirelessly using bonded (40 MHz bandwidth mode) channels 44 and 48.

By default, MyWirelessTV comes configured for channel 144, so there was no contention. Using the user interface described above, I forced MyWirelessTV onto channel 44 so that it would share bandwidth with content streaming to my TV.

I started to stream a Netflix movie on the TV downstairs and came upstairs to watch content being streamed by My Wireless TV. The Netflix movie and the content coming from my cable box both steamed flawlessly to their respective screens without any interruptions or latency. Audio was also in synch for each program source.

Closing Thoughts

It’s rare that I get to review a product that works exactly like it’s supposed to. Generally, there’s always a glitch along the way. But MyWirelessTV did exactly what it was supposed to do, and “just worked”. To me, that’s almost magical. The wireless connection is encrypted, but since the receiver and transmitter are pre-paired, it doesn’t really matter. The receiver and transmitter will either pair if they are within range of each other, or they won’t if they are out of range.

I like that Actiontec chose to use only the 5GHz Wi-Fi band for streaming video. In crowded areas such as where I live, there are lots of Wi-Fi networks that make streaming video reliably and without interruption virtually impossible on the 2.4GHz band.

MyWirelessTV also supports streaming to additional receivers using multicast. This would be handy if you wanted to stream the same source content to multiple screens. I could envision sports bar owners using multiple transmitters and receivers to connect screens in their establishments without the use of HDMI cables.

For me, the truest test of a product is whether I would spend my own money to purchase it. In the case of My Wireless TV, I would. In fact, I might purchase another receiver for the TV in the kitchen!

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