HP Wireless TV Connect (2012) Review

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Pros: Small, compact design; Long range; Streams 3D video

Cons: Runs hot; Occasional flickering when changing screen configuration; Pricey

Verdict: The HP Wireless TV Connect lets you wirelessly stream 1080p and 3D video from your laptop to your TV with no fuss--and no latency.

Sure, it's fun to play games on your notebook's display, but it still pales in comparison to the 55-inch HDTV you've got mounted to your wall. Yes, you could connect an HDMI cable, but who wants a cord stretching across the room? The HP Wireless TV Connect lets you wirelessly stream 1080p content-- including games, Blu-rays and online video--from your laptop with no latency. You can even beam 3D content to your big screen. Still, $179 is a pretty hefty price tag for wireless freedom. Is this gadget worth the splurge?

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Design

Since the first generation, HP shrunk the size of its Wireless TV Connect. Now, the transmitter, which was a bulky 4.5 x 4.1-inch box, measures a much smaller 3.5 x 1.3 x 0.6 inches. About the same size as the transmitter for the Philips Wireless HD Net Connect, it has an HDMI plug on one end, and on the side is a microUSB port. (The transmitter requires USB power to operate). A small blue light on top indicates the device is working, and a button on the opposite side of the HDMI port is used to reset the device.

HP also shrunk the size of the receiver, to a smallish 3.2 x 3.1 x 1.1 inches. It's about a quarter of the size of Philips' receiver (7.7 x 5.75 x 1 inches), making it a better option for those who might like to take it on the road.

The Wireless TV Connect is made of a glossy black plastic, which curves around the sides. On the front are two small LEDs: A white light for power, and a blue LED shows the connectivity status. On the back are ports for HDMI and power, and on the right side are buttons used to configure the device.

In addition to a USB-miniUSB cable for the transmitter, we like that HP includes an HDMI cable to connect the receiver to a TV.

Setup

Like the first generation, the HP Wireless TV Connect uses WHDI (Wireless Home Digital Interface) technology, which lets you beam signals with less than a 1 millisecond delay, and has a data rate of about 3GBps. Also, like before, it was fairly easy to set up. We first plugged the transmitter into our Sony VAIO F's HDMI port, then plugged the USB cable from the transmitter into the notebook. Then, we connected the receiver via HDMI to our Samsung TV, and powered it on.

While the receiver didn't immediately recognize the transmitter, we pressed the reset button on the latter, and the two then synced up in less than a minute, duplicating our notebook's display on the Samsung TV.

Performance

With the HP Wireless TV Connect, we could play anything we liked, just as if there was a wired connection. We popped in a Blu-ray of "Iron Man" and enjoyed the rich visuals and audio through our TV, with no latency whatsoever. The device worked well in every display mode: extended, cloned, and on just the TV. Unlike previous generations of wireless streaming technology, we could watch a Blu-ray both on the laptop and the TV at the same time. The screen would occasionally go black for an instant, though, when we switched screen configurations from cloned to extended.

Gaming was just as satisfying: With an Xbox 360 controller connected to our VAIO, we were able to play "Batman: Arkham City" at 1080p, and saw no lag when the Caped Crusader was squaring of against the Joker's henchmen. Still, we had to dial down the effects somewhat in order to ensure a decent framerate.

New to the second version of the HP Wireless TV Connect is the ability to stream 3D content to a 3D-capable TV. While the device can only stream 1080p content at 24 fps, or 720p video at 60fps, it worked pretty well. On our notebook, we had to first enable stereoscopic 3D using the Nvidia control panel on our Sony VAIO--but afterward, we were able to stream a 3D Blu-ray of "The Green Hornet" from the laptop to the TV with no problems.

In order to stream 3D content, you'll need a discrete GPU, and a decent one at that. Nvidia says it's possible with its GeForce G210M GPU, but not recommended.

Range and Heat

Although HP only rates the device for a range of about 16 feet, we were able to move 50 feet away, and didn't see any stuttering.

Like Philips' device, both the transmitter and receiver on HP's Wireless TV Connect get very hot. After having it plugged in for about half an hour, the transmitter measured 124 degrees. The bottom of the receiver was even worse: 146 degrees.

Verdict

The second generation of the HP Wireless TV Connect improves upon the original in several ways. Not only is it smaller, but it can also stream 3D content, too, all with no latency. While we don't like how hot it gets, at $179, it's nearly $100 less expensive and a quarter the size of Philips' Wireless TV Connect. Still, you need a fairly beefy notebook to make the most out of this kit's potential. Those looking to simply watch videos or PowerPoint presentations would be better off with Intel's WiDi technology, which is built into all notebooks with second-gen Intel Core processors. All you need is a $99 receiver. But for what it does, the HP Wireless TV Connect is the best, least expensive and most portable option.

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Author Bio
Michael A. Prospero
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor
Michael A. Prospero has overseen reviews on Laptopmag.com since 2007, focusing on producing the most thorough and authoritative mobile product reviews. After receiving his Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia in 2003, Mike worked at Fast Company. Prior to that, he worked at The Times of Trenton, George and AlleyCat News.
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor on
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Size Transmitter:3.2 x 1.2 x 0.7 inches Receiver: 3.2 x 3.1 x 1.1 inches
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