The ASUS WiCast

Since it landed, Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology has been something of a mixed bag. There's a lot to mull over: you have to consider latency, the 720p limitation, being stuck with Intel HD graphics, buying the wireless box for your television, and maybe the biggest question of all, whether or not it's really practical. WiDi has resulted in a split decision here; Vivek is a big fan of it, but I have a hard time understanding why someone would deal with all these limitations instead of just plugging in a five dollar HDMI cable and calling it a day.

If we take practicality off the table and focus on the technology itself, we're still left with some frustrating limitations, and mercifully it's those limitations that ASUS seeks to ameliorate with their new WiCast setup. ASUS promises near-invisible latency, full 1080p video, and compatibility with anything that has an HDMI port. We received the WiCast as part of a review kit including two notebooks, but we felt it was worth reviewing on its own.

The setup is probably the biggest hurdle for the WiCast, because when you open the box you're greeted by a remarkable number of little pieces of hardware. There are the two WiCast boxes—the transmitter and the receiver—followed by two HDMI cables (one three inches long, which may be used either at the receiver or transmitter side), two AC adaptors, and a USB cable. At least there are no software discs and a fairly thin instruction manual.

Gallery: ASUS WiCast

The transmitter and receiver boxes are fairly similar; the transmitter's just the smaller one, but both have an AC adaptor, HDMI, and mini-USB ports. On the receiver the mini-USB port is covered, but it can be used to power the receiver if for some odd reason that's more convenient than just plugging it in. I'm going to assume your television is stationary, though, which means there's a reasonably close power outlet. For the receiver, though, the USB is probably going to be your preferred way to power the transmitter. Mercifully that means that the second AC adaptor isn't essential, but is just an alternative power source if your USB ports are all used up on your notebook/desktop/whatever.

That's honestly pretty much it, too. Connecting everything is fairly self-explanatory, and once you have your HDMI cables plugged in you're just about set. It's one of the nice things about WiCast compared to Intel's WiDi: there's no software to install or configure, and no hardware limitations outside of the HDMI port. That makes for a concise review, though: it either works or it doesn't. So let's see if that's the case.

WiCast in Practice
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  • entu - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    only reason to use this, i can imagine, would be a beamer in home-entertainment Reply
  • SoCalBoomer - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    I was thinking this would be sweet to connect my desktop (opposite the TV) to the entertainment center so I could play videos . . . much better than running a cable across the room. . .

    Definitely not a be-all or end-all. . .
    Reply
  • frenzon - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    As a projector owner, I love anything that can reduce my dependence on cables, especially since I'm renting and don't want to rewire the place.

    Currently, if I have my computers at the back of the room, then I have to figure out how to get sound and the PS3 Eye to the front of the room. If I have them at the front, then I have to figure out how to get video to the back of the room. All of this is a much bigger pain in the ass than you'd think (the best no-latency+good-quality wireless audio solution I've found does terrible things to wifi), so any development in wireless video is welcome.
    Reply
  • bah12 - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    Actually it should be a 1 cable solution. Given that you should have a A/V receiver, and most of them today have HDMI switching/scaling. You should end up with only 1 HDMI to the projector. That is the setup I use, and long HDMI cables are not too pricey if you look online. I use this setup with a 25' run, and it works perfectly. It does not matter the source (SVID, Composite, Component, HDMI), it all gets scaled up by my receiver and sent over the HDMI.

    Granted you still have to run one wire, but this should be the least intrusive setup.
    Reply
  • MGSsancho - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    I did the same as this guy. got a good receiver and just hook it all up there. tehre are longer hdmi cables but their massive. you could always run hdmi over dual cat6/5e or fiber. that would get you longer distance, you can control the cable color, more flexible. and you wont have to worry about a 20lb cable than more than 1cm thick Reply
  • Kibbles - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    It would be nice to have something like this for the floating no wire TV look. Somethings that would be good on a future version:
    Multiple inputs on the transmitter side. That way you can have all your hidden boxes hooked up to the TV.
    Power splitter on the receiver. Just about all LCD TVs I've seen have the same power cable as the average PC PSU. It would be nifty if they gave you a T line for the TV power port and the cable, so you can have one less wire showing.
    I don't know how you can do it, but a way to switch the source without having to add another remote would be nice. Merely signal auto sourcing doesn't always work because you might want to leave your DVR on but play a game or something like that.
    Obvious no signal loss every time someone breathes into the signal would be nice too.
    Reply
  • dnd728 - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    Google-> "WiCast utilizes Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) technology to wirelessly transmit high definition video and audio signals..."

    So, as I understand it shares this standard with other TVs, video cards, dongles, etc. from various manufacturers.
    Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    From WHDI's own website:

    "WHDI-enabled products maintain a robust link with *virtually* no loss of visual quality."

    It would seem that even the WHDI consortium realizes that wireless 1080p is not perfect. They list several examples as to how the technology might be implemented and "home theater" is not one of them. :)
    Reply
  • teddyg007 - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    I was just thinking it would have been sweet for ASUS to get with TV/DVD manufacturers and have this technology embeded into devices. Heck they could even embed it into their top of the line laptops to cut down wires and whatnot obviously turning the circuit off when not in use to keep the battery life in check. Reply
  • chui101 - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    Can we get an actual figure of how much lag there is, and in different conditions? You could set the HDMI output to clone the laptop display and use the input lag test at http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/response_time.php.

    "Near-invisible latency" might not cut it for Rockband! :)
    Reply

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