Conclusion: Lots of Wires for "Wireless"

If we take practicality out of the equation, we're left with a solution that is more or less directly superior to Intel's WiDi. That's not too outlandish to consider; WiDi uses a notebook's internal wireless connection, which means it has a peak throughput of 300Mbps. Compare that to the ASUS WiCast's advertised 3Gbps connection and it's obvious why the WiCast is capable of handling 1080p video, multichannel audio, and doing all of that with near-invisible latency. Even better, WiCast works with anything with an HDMI port, while WiDi is limited to Intel HD graphics and Intel wireless hardware.

The problem is we can't take practicality out of the equation, not really. WiDi's big advantage is that it doesn't require an extra box on the notebook side, but the trade-offs are horrendous. In the meantime, WiCast requires you to connect three cables (two USB and an HDMI) to your notebook (or an AC adapter in place of the USB) and a receiver box to your television. The receiver isn't the issue, but the box and cables on the notebook can turn into a mess in a hurry. You're making an awful lot of sacrifices just to transmit 1080p video wirelessly to your television, and given the number of connections that need to be made, that "wireless" part almost feels like a bit of a misnomer.

Range and interference are a concern as well. Five feet isn't an unreasonable request to make for a wireless home theatre or presentation technology, but the WiCast sometimes had problems with interference even at that distance. There weren't any signal drops, but the lines of artifacting that appeared in the picture during Iron Man 2 weren't exactly easy to ignore.

This all circles back to the essential problem with wireless display technologies, at least at the present time: it's a hell of a lot of work just to get rid of one cable connection. For WiDi, I have to hunt down a notebook with the specific configuration needed to use it, and then drop $99 on the receiver box for the television. For the ASUS WiCast, I have to pay $199, but at least it'll work with whatever I need it to work with. Or I can just order a fifteen foot HDMI cable off of NewEgg for under ten bucks and not have to worry about latency or interference.

So that in mind, I will say this: as far as wireless display goes, the WiCast is in my opinion a superior solution to Intel's WiDi. If this is something you have a need or a use for, then it's an easy sell. But for everyone else, this technology is a tough sell from any vendor. It's just too cumbersome and asks too many trade-offs just to replace one of the cheapest wired connections in a home theater. Yes, you can use it with desktops and even PS3/Xbox 360 if you'd like, but as long as you're still running an AC adapter and range is realistically less than 10 feet, we can't really see this as anything but a niche product. Some will love it, and it's much cheaper than previous 1080p wireless solutions, but $200 is still a fair amount to spend unless this fills a specific need.

WiCast in Practice
POST A COMMENT

37 Comments

View All Comments

  • cactusdog - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    Haha, thats funny. Wireless that introduces more cables than a wired connection? Sounds like a big hassle. Reply
  • Sihastru - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    I agree, 2 power bricks (with power cables), 2 new boxes, and 3-4 wires for them, just to replace 1 simple cable... It's just that wireless should reduce clutter, not add to it. Reply
  • Solandri - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    I can't help but think that all this is trying to reinvent the wheel.

    Most HDTVs already have over the air digital receivers built in. All we need is for the FCC to open up one or two of the digital TV channels for public broadcast at low wattage like they did the 2.4 GHz spectrum. Then you can just make a doohickey which plugs into your laptop which converts the screen image to a DTV signal and broadcasts it in one of those OTA channels.
    Reply
  • jonup - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    That's actually a good idea. I like it! We do not even need an FCC approval. We can just order it from China. Reply
  • RangerDave - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    in my line of work (custom home theaters, home automation etc....) there are quite a few installs where we are laying down 50 ft HDMI cables that cost a fortune (aspecially if where trying to stick to hdmi 1.4 standard for 3D) and other installs where we use hdmi to cat5e to hdmi. anyways that being said, i can see this being a viable solution to some setups that i have done but in a typical home theater setup, is completely useless. Reply
  • Homerboy - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    Cost a fortune?
    Hell I just bought a 35ft HDMI cable for $23.
    Reply
  • enderwiggin21 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    For in-wall or in-attic runs you're not going to use the $10 cable from monoprice. That's better suited for runs within your rack. You're going to want CL2 or CM rated cable.

    When you have customers and the responsibility to pander to the lowest common denominator, using cable that's tested out to the required length leaves less room for error. The longer the run, the more difficulty at passing the speed tests, ergo the more expensive the cable. Even though the cheaper cable could get the job done just fine, this is an installer's livelihood. Better to use tested, durable cable for such runs than not.

    Bluejeanscable sells CM cable tested and rated cable for $135 for 50ft. To me that's not ultra-expensive; not for 50ft. But even then, it's only tested for Category 2 speeds to 25feet, and Category 1 speeds to 45feet. So imagine how expensive it would be to test out to Category 2 to 50feet. And they're considered a great bang-for-your-buck vendor.
    Reply
  • enderwiggin21 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    For clarifcation, CL2 and CM ratings are "to code" for in wall cable runs.

    Someone who makes their living installing has to be "up to code." If they weren't they'd be at risk if something went wrong (a fire, water leakage, etc) and the cable was a catalyst. Or if the owner of the house decided to sell it at some point and it was determined the wiring wasn't up to code, that could jeopardize the home owner's sale as well as open the installer to liability claims.

    If you're DIY'ing it, then you could do whatever you want. Caveat emptor.
    Reply
  • mikeyD95125 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    You actually can get CL2 rated cables at monoprice.Here's 50ft for $56. <a href=http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id... Reply
  • enderwiggin21 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    That's a great bargain and I would be tempted to try that in my own installation so I could easily undo it if there were problems. However, it's only rated for "Standard Speed," which is Category 1.

    I know some of the price premiums are snake oil like Monster Cable, but if I run a business I'm using something tested for the product running through the cable and its distance, not leaving something up to chance, *if at all possible.*

    Forgive the length, but...

    Per HDMI.org,

    * Standard (or “category 1”) HDMI cables have been tested to perform at speeds of 75Mhz or up to 2.25Gbps, which is the equivalent of a 720p/1080i signal.
    * High Speed (or “category 2”) HDMI cables have been tested to perform at speeds of 340Mhz or up to 10.2Gbps, which is the highest bandwidth currently available over an HDMI cable and can successfully handle 1080p signals.

    Q. Will my Standard cable work in High Speed applications?

    Although a Standard HDMI cable may not have been tested to support the higher bandwidth requirements of cables rated to support high speeds, existing cables, especially ones of shorter lengths (i.e., less than 2 meters), will generally perform adequately in higher speed situations. The quality of the HDMI receiver chip (in the TV, for example) has a large effect on the ability to cleanly recover and display the HDMI signal. A significant majority, perhaps all, of the HDMI TVs and projectors that support 1080p on the HDMI inputs are designed with quality receiver chips that may cleanly recover the 1080p HDMI signal using a Standard-rated HDMI cable. These receiver chips use technology called “cable equalization” in order to counter the signal reduction (attenuation) caused by a cable. We have seen successful demonstrations of 1080p signal runs on a >50 ft. cable, and a 720p signal run on a >75 ft. cable. However, the only way to guarantee that your cable will perform at higher speeds is to purchase a cable that has been tested at the higher speeds and labeled as “High-Speed.”

    1. Standard cables (referred to as Category 1 cables in the HDMI specification) are those tested to perform at speeds of 75Mhz, which is the equivalent of an uncompressed 1080i signal.
    2. High Speed cables (referred to as Category 2 cables in the HDMI specification), are those tested to perform at speeds of 340Mhz, which is the highest bandwidth currently available over an HDMI cable and can successfully handle 1080p signals including those at increased color depths (e.g. greater than eight bits per color) and/or increased refresh rates (e.g. 120Hz).
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now