WiCast in Practice

Getting the ASUS WiCast to work really is a breeze. The manual notes the transmitter and receiver may take as much as a minute to sync, but my experience was much better. With the two boxes about five feet apart, syncing was actually very quick once Windows loaded, and within Windows the solution was as transparent as it should be. The WiCast-connected monitor appeared the way any wired monitor would, and I was able to switch audio over to the WiCast easily.

My first test was to see if the WiCast could hit 1080p, and sure enough it could. Latency, at least on the Windows desktop, was invisible. At 1080p (60Hz), the solution was largely seamless. In fact the only artifacting I really saw was in high-contrast areas, where there would be slight flickering on the edges of shapes and letters. The whole image appeared slightly darker than it did on a wired connection.

The next step was to see how well it handled audio, so I fired up WinAMP and put my usual audio testing whipping boy, The Prodigy's "Spitfire", through its paces. Audio quality between wired HDMI and the WiCast was indistinguishable, though it did serve to highlight how poor the speakers in my television are. It's reasonable to assume the WiCast probably handles multichannel audio perfectly fine, but I have a hard time imagining a home theatre enthusiast who would opt to use the WiCast instead of a hard line for reasons that will become clear soon enough.

For me, the big test was latency, something Intel's WiDi has a real problem with. I fired up Quake Wars (yes, some of us still play this), set it to 1080p, and was up and running. Gameplay was nigh-indistinguishable from a wired connection. ASUS advertises a latency at or below 1ms and while I can't confirm that, I can tell you that from a gaming perspective the WiCast is remarkably fluid and responsive. It's worth noting that this is one area where the WiDi simply can't compete: while I was able to use the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4650 in my notebook to push polygons in Quake Wars, WiDi is restricted to Intel HD graphics only. So in this test we've already exposed two things WiCast can do that WiDi can't: game, and game at 1080p.

Finally I wanted to test Blu-ray playback, and it was here that things started to get a little hairy. There weren't any HDCP issues, but when I tried to play Iron Man 2, the WiCast started to have trouble with interference. It wasn't anything game-breaking, but there were five horizontal lines of artifacting on the screen, evenly spaced. Adjusting the transmitter seemed to help a little, and often the lines would go away on their own, but nonetheless the WiCast seemed to have a hard time keeping a clean signal at just five feet away.

With the above in mind, we did some additional testing of the signal quality at five foot intervals. Keeping in mind the WiCast is rated at "up to" 33 feet, we were unimpressed with the amount of blocking and other artifacts even at close range with Blu-ray, and it quickly gets worse as we move away from the receiver. Oddly enough, we had better experience testing the WiCast with a Gateway ID49C than we did with a Dell Studio 17—the former worked at up to 20 feet without any noticeable problems while the latter had periodic issues even when the receiver/transmitter were nearly on top of each other.

The signal ended up being more of a case of all or nothing: it either worked or it didn't, though sometimes other factors seem to come into play (a person moving in between the transmitter and receiver, or interference from other electronic devices). Since the WiCast is also device agnostic, you can use it with a PlayStation 3, Xbox360, or any other HDMI-equipped hardware. Again, the most likely use seems to be laptops, simply because anything else is already hard-wired for AC power. Also worth noting is that we measured power draw on the transmitter of 5.7-5.8W, which means if you're running off a notebook's battery, you'll take a pretty significant hit to battery life.

The ASUS WiCast Conclusion: Lots of Wires for "Wireless"
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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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