The VStream WPCTV1080H fulfills its promise of piping 1080p HDMI video wirelessly via a simple USB 2.0 connection. That's a valuable function, since store shelves aren't exactly creaking under the weight of alternative wireless display solutions. Diamond's pricing isn't unreasonable, either, though this device can't quite be called cheap.
Unfortunately, squeezing a 1080p stream through a USB 2.0 port involves compromises: dropped frames, color banding, garbled text, and aliasing. We encountered these artifacts even under ideal conditions, with a fast quad-core system and the dongle and base station a couple of feet from each other. You can't break the laws of physics, and USB 2.0 simply doesn't have enough bandwidth.
While we won't fault the VStream for failing to do the impossible, we will caution that the unit's limitations make it suitable for a limited set of tasks. For instance, playing back standard-definition video while surfing the web on your laptop's built-in display should work fine, provided the occasional dropped frame won't bother you. Still images look decent enough on our 32" LCD TV from across a small living room, so the VStream should also be good enough to torment guests with a slideshow of pictures from your last vacation. We wouldn't recommend using the VStream for more complex tasks like 3D gaming or desktop productivity, though. Diamond mentions PowerPoint presentations in the product literature, but based on the text garbling we witnessed, we'd be hesitant to whip out the VStream in a crowded meeting room.
In the end, we're left hoping for a similar product with more bandwidth and higher-quality video. That might come sooner rather than later, believe it or not. VESA and WiGig announced last November that they were developing a wireless DisplayPort implementation, and we were told to expect products in late 2011 or early 2012. Wireless DisplayPort should have 7Gbps of peak bandwidth at its disposal—more than a USB 3.0 connection, and certainly enough to maintain an unspoiled 1080p signal. Here's hoping Diamond brings us a second-generation VStream based on that technology.
40 comments — Last by Krogoth at 2:27 AM on 07/17/11
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