Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cheap Wireless HDMI Solution

This is a brief review of an awesome wireless HDMI alternative that we use.

My company recently moved into a new facility and at the same time we decided to replace our old projectors with LED tvs in our meeting rooms. However, we did not have a huge budget. We wanted something that looked and functioned well, but did not have thousands and thousands of dollars to spend on it. We settled on 65" Vizio TVs that were on sale for less than $1,000 at BestBuy. But now we had a bigger problem. We had two very large meeting rooms and a constant demand for our consultants to connect their laptops to the presentation screen to show the group what was on their monitor.

In the past, we had a separate laptop dock that they could plug into, and VGA or HDMI cable going to the project that was sitting on the table. Obviously, that was not going to work anymore, as the tv is about 15 feet from the conference room table, AND we didn't want an unsightly cord hanging off of the TV.

 So, I started looking at wireless HDMI solutions. First off, they were pricey, averaging $150 to $200. Secondly, they only allow one person to connect to the tv display at a time. Third, the biggest problem we ran into is that not all laptops have an HDMI port on it. So, how do you go about wirelessly projecting a signal from your laptop to a tv, WITHOUT using Plex, apps or tons of adapters and plugs?

Well, we found the answer to cheap wireless video streaming from a laptop to a tv. Its a simple box, created by a company I never heard of before called IPEVO. The box, called the IPEVO HD WPS which stands for IPEVO High Definition Wireless Presentation System, is a simple device that looks just like a router. In fact, it actually is a router, with a bunch more capabilities.

Basically, this little box, connects up behind your tv via HDMI or VGA (and 1/8" audio) and plugs into the outlet. It then creates a wireless access point that you can connect directly to from any laptop. Then, you install a very lightweight software client on your laptop, and boom, you can instantly project your screen and audio on your display wirelessly. It works very well, in fact, I was able to stream Netflix and youtube with very very little loss of video quality.

 But, let's say you don't want to connect to another router (we didn't), no problem!  The device can alternatively connect to your existing network through wifi, or through the included RJ45 network jack.   So, my staff, who is already on my building's wifi, can simply launch their software on their pc and from anywhere in the building start sharing their screen.  In fact, 4 people at once can share their screens in a four way split screen.

We've now had three of these units running on our network for a couple of months, and they are working out perfectly.  Even visitors can quickly through their presentations up on our tv's wirelessly without worrying about dongles, ports, adapters and cords to trip over.

When I originally discovered the  IPEVO HD WPS,I actually found a product from Blackbox that did all the same things, but did not have an HDMI port.  Worse, it was twice the price.  As of this writing, the IPEVO wireless video system is $199.00, I think its a steal.   What is odd is that the screenshots I've found of the blackbox unit look to be identical to the firmware on my IPEVO, making me think they are manufactured by the same company.

So, if you are looking for a great way to share multiple laptop screens at once on a tv or projector.  Or you want wireless HDMI and wireless VGA but don't want to deal with adapters, the IPEVO HD WPS is the solution for you.

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