When I first saw the NETGEAR 3DHD product on the showroom floor of CES, there was the device sitting on the table and a video playing on a screen. I was confused as to the nature of the device; was it a wireless HDMI solution? The product model is 3DHD, with 3D, HD 1080p, video, etc. plastered all over the packaging, and the product name is 3DHD Wireless Home Theatre Networking Kit. As we spoke with a Netgear representative, it became clear that this was not a wireless HDMI implementation but an 802.11 networking solution. To put it in clear terms, despite the 3D buzzwords plastered all over the box, to the technical user; this product is a network bridge device.

NETGEAR isn't wrong to focus some of their 802.11 products directly at multimedia applications, as moving video wirelessly and reliably to high definition TV sets is a feature that many people are looking for. For cost, ease of use, and superior reliability, it is always recommended to simply run a cable. Sometimes however, a wireless solution is the only answer. Maybe you rent and your landlord doesn't want any holes punched in the walls, or maybe there is more complexity and cost in getting the wiring in the wall or across the house than by simply using a wireless solution.

NETGEAR's whitepaper documentation identifies bandwidth and interference as the two major challenges to getting reliable, bandwidth intensive video applications to work properly over wireless. To get the required amount of bandwidth, the 3DHD utilizes 4x4 MIMO antenna technology. MIMO systems offer significant increases in data rates, range, and reliability by exploiting the spatial dimension associated with the multiple antennas. The 4x4 MIMO configuration provides two extra transmit antennas for beamforming, which allows significant focusing of the energy in two directions. This is done to improve reliability as well as to reduce interference with existing wireless systems, steering the energy directly in the required direction. We are eager to see if the technical features built into this product provide any advantage over other 5GHz networking devices.

Unboxing and Setup
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  • Solandri - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    I've asked this before. Aren't we just reinventing the wheel? Why are we trying to come up with wireless HDMI when a wireless format for broadcasting HD-quality video and audio already exists, and nearly every HDTV out there already has a receiver for it?

    All we need is for the FCC to allocate a few DTV channels for private use and regulate the maximum transmit power like they did the 2.4 GHz spectrum. Then the manufacturers can get busy building low-wattage OTA ATSC transmitters. You just plug it into the video out of your camera, Blu-ray player, HTPC, or computer, and it'll transmit the video and audio wirelessly. Tune the HDTV into the appropriate channel and you're done.

    Yeah, it's not going to be perfect like uncompressed HDMI. But it's video. Are you really going to notice the slight imperfections? Especially if your source signal is already a compressed format like a camera, Blu-ray, or DVR?
  • Exelius - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    Problem with that is you run into the same issue you do in apartment buildings: you're suddenly in range of 30 other peoples' wireless access. You need some way to secure that so only you can watch it (otherwise you'd end up with some dude watching hardcore porn over a wireless link while someone elses' kid is flipping through the channels...)

    Also, signal turns to crap the higher density you have... wireless is a bidirectional communication protocol so both sides can correct for it, but that's not possible with broadcast transmission.
  • phuzi0n - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    It's nice to see some 4x4 MIMO equipment finally available but I believe that the throughput cap you hit was due to a slow CPU. From my experience with 3rd party firmwares on wireless routers, I would guess that it has a ~300MHz mips CPU inside that can't keep up with the incredible bandwidth that 4x4 MIMO radios offer. Wireless routers have this same problem getting bandwidth capped because the CPU can't keep up, but their radios are mostly all 2x2 MIMO so the problem isn't nearly as severe.

    Does anyone know the FCC ID or know the CPU inside these?
  • VeauX - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    why not adding one to the test?
  • dartblazer - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    Agreed. I'd like to see a comparison with something like the "NETGEAR Powerline AV 500 Adapter Kit".
  • mados123 - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    Exactly. The XAVB5004 is nice because is has a Gigabit switch on the Home Theater side with 4 ports & QoS packet prioritization.
  • kmmatney - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    Good point - I saw a price of $170 for the XAVB5004, which is quite a bit cheaper that this wireless solution, and looks to offer much better performance. I'm in need of something like this
  • kmmatney - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    This looks like a good solution - lots of good reviews, and only $95.

  • kmmatney - Sunday, February 27, 2011 - link

    Wow - this sold out already. I found a Western Digital unit also for $95:


    Its even better as it has 4 ports on each end.
  • ganeshts - Sunday, February 27, 2011 - link

    The LiveWire has been reviewed by us before. It is a good unit for getting net access where wireless is not very effective, but I wouldn't recommend it for HD video streaming.

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