brite-View Air SyncHD Review
A few weeks ago on Episode 427 we reviewed a wireless HDMI solution from brite-View called the Air HD (BV-2500). It worked really well, so we were more than happy to play with it’s little brother, the Air SyncHD (BV-2322) when we were given the opportunity. The Air HD costs $279, but the Air SyncHD will only set you back $179.
While the Air HD has 2 HDMI inputs, 2 component video inputs and a composite input, the Air Sync HD offers only 1 HDMI input. That’s where you get the $100 savings and is the only drawback, if you can even call it that, of the lower cost model. Due to the removal of all those inputs, the transmitter box is actually significantly smaller than the “bigger” brother, making it easier to place.
But the AirSync HD has one positive difference not found on the Air HD, the presence of an HDMI passthru output on the transmitter itself. This output allows you to insert the Air SyncHD inline with your existing TV or projector and never even know its there. You can transmit the same video to another screen in a snap. That makes for a great second viewing room, an awesome idea for super bowl parties or fight night.
We got the exact same performance from the AirSync HD that we had with the Air HD. The reduction in cost was not accompanied by a reduction in quality. Both claim the same distance of 65 feet with line of sight and 32 without. Just like before we were able to get amazing quality at around 50 feet with LOS and about 27 without.
We also compared performance on Braden’s projector between hard wired and wireless. By and large they looked exactly the same. If you were very critical, we did see some slight differences with really high quality Blu-ray playback, but they were minimal. The difference might even be attributable to us staring at sample video for way too long.
One thing we neglected to do before Braden sent the unit back was check to see if we could run two of them at the same time. Braden owns an Air HD, so we’re going to try to get an Air SyncHD to see if we can use two of them together in the same house without interference issues.
If you have one HDMI output, like the single HDMI coming from your receiver, that you need to get to a projector or a TV mounted on the wall, or if you simply want to move your equipment to a closet, check out the Air SyncHD. At only $179 it costs quite a bit less than tearing up walls and running cables. If you want to add a second viewing screen without a new cable box, blu-ray player and all that other gear, the Air SyncHD could help out there as well.
The Future of Movies in Your Home
Netflix just launched their service in Canada, but they aren’t planning to ship a single disc. The entire service is what we refer to as “Watch it Now” or their streaming video service. They’re also on record as saying that if they were starting in the US right now, they’d do the same thing: skip discs entirely and go straight to streaming. Microsoft has recently also predicted that Blu-ray will go the way of the HD-DVD very soon (article). So what do these companies know that we don’t?
We talk about streaming movies and TV shows to your home theater quite often. Perhaps not as much as 3D or home automation, but quite a bit nonetheless. But it’s one thing when Ara or Braden predict the death of Blu-ray; it’s another thing entirely when Netflix, one of the largest DVD companies in the world, or Microsoft, one of the largest technology companies in the world, makes that prediction. That’s worth digging into a bit.
So what are the arguments against streaming content supplanting DVD or Blu-ray as the dominant distribution form for movies? The loudest sentiment by far is the quality argument. The argument claims that streaming will never take off until it is as good as Blu-ray. If the MP3 and the iPod taught us anything, it’s that quality isn’t always the biggest factor. Sometimes convenience wins, sometimes novelty wins, quite often affordability wins.
Another argument against streaming technology is the lack of bandwidth to the home. While this may not be an issue for many of us, it is an issue for a large chunk of the population, both in the US and around the world. This is what will slow the transition the most. Until a critical mass has the bandwidth and the desire to move to streamed video, it will always be the sideshow. The studios will need to make DVDs for everyone else anyways, so why put more attention than is needed on the streaming side of things?
The main argument for streaming is obvious: convenience. You don’t have to go out to a store or kiosk to rent a movie, nor do you have to return it. You don’t have to go to the store to buy a movie, or order it online and wait a few days for it to arrive. You click a button and start watching in a matter of seconds. You also don’t have to store it anywhere. You don’t need a bunch of shelves or cabinets to house all your movies. A simple hard drive will do just fine.
In addition to convenience, there are a ton of arguments for streaming. There’s the obvious environmental aspect of not having to produce all those discs that eventually get thrown into a landfill. There’s reduced costs for studios and producers, which hopefully produces lower costs for consumers. There’s also the benefit of backups so you don’t have to worry about a disc getting scratched or cracked.
What will it take
Bandwidth aside, because we know that problem has to be solved first, it will have to be easy. It’ll need to be a box that replaces your Blu-ray player, or better yet built right into your TV or set top box. It will need to be easy to use and easy to find the movies you’re looking for. Apple, Netflix, Hulu and Blockbuster all have that right now. Google should have it very soon, built right into Sony TVs. Easy should be taken care of.
It will have to be portable. Although portable Blu-ray players never quite made it, many people still have portable DVD players and DVD players in their family cars. There are a ton of devices out there that can playback video, and even output it to a secondary screen like a car entertainment unit. The iPod and iPhone can do it, some Android phones can do it, some, like the Evo, even support HD output via HDMI. The problem is getting the content on the portable device – and not requiring a 3G connection. We all know how spotty those are on road trips or airplane flights.
Microsoft and Netflix may absolutely be correct that disc based video distribution is on its way out. We think that the time frame may be a little closer to long term than short term, however. We’re excited to see where Google goes with their forthcoming TV offering. We’re looking forward to what Apple will morph theirs into as well. We’re also really excited about what companies like ivi.tv can do with streamed TV content. But none of those solve the bandwidth issue. We’ll have to revisit when that problem has been put to bed.
Posted by The HT Guys, September 30, 2010 11:04 PM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.