Gefen GTV-WirelessHD Lossless, Wireless HDMI Projector Accessory Review
Long runs of HDMI cable can be problematic. For that reason, there are a number of different solutions for moving HDMI over distances. Here we look at a brand new wireless HDMI solution from Gefen - their GTV-WirelessHD. It's lossless, pricey, and is limited in range (30 feet), but, it is definitely a competent problem solver. Read on:
12/31/2009 - Art Feierman
The world needs a good wireless solution for running HDMI. One benefit would be reducing installation costs. That would also include retrofitting legacy installations with HDMI, when wiring was done before HDMI arrived and became viable (and assuming that you don't have the ability (conduit), or want the expense and hassle of opening up walls again, and also more drywalling and painting.
I've been on the hunt for a wireless HD solution for more than two years now. Seven years ago, when our family moved into this house, we ran a lot of wire in our great room, which functions as home theater room #1. Do to the lack of attic and crawl space, in conjunction with a 21 foot ceiling, my cable runs were just over 100 feet. It took 22 cuts in walls and ceilings to do the wiring.
At the time, HDMI was pretty much brand new. The cables (and specifications) resulted in very short range initially (6 meters). Obviously though, longer length cables were coming, and other solutions, to extend the range of the new digital standard.
Back in '03, I ran component video, and other cabling, but also dual shielded CAT-5 cables, as it was obvious that there were extenders coming that would convert HDMI to CAT-5 and back.
Turns out, that worked just fine. With a pair of CAT-5 extenders, life was pretty good. No problem with 720p and 1080i. The problem didn't occur until 1080p projectors showed up, and then, also necessary, 1080p source material. Well that changed when I got my Sony PS3 not long after they hit the market. All of a sudden - I've got 1080p material, and my extenders can't deal with it. (They should have, and I now question the quality of CAT-5 put in our wall, a part of the problem.)
So, for the last 2.5 years I've been looking for a workable solution, waiting not so patiently for Gefen, Belkin or someone else to finally ship a wireless HD solution.
So, here we go. Almost two years behind original schedule, Gefen has delivered the first commercial, lossless 1080p wireless solution. (Belkin, still doesn't have a ship date, and they were supposed to ship, originally, in Sept. '08, so they may be even further behind, as there's no new firm ship date yet.
The key questions are: Does it work, how well, and with what limitations?
I've had it in-house for two weeks now, and have much to report. Let's get started.
I spent the first week with it in my main theater, the sender unit up front with my gear. It was connected via a 1 meter HDMI cable coming from my 4x2 switcher. My PS3 and my satellite box are plugged into the switcher, and on occasion, my Mac laptop.
The receiver was placed on my table where I put projectors when I'm watching them. It's got clear line of site to my equipment and the sender. Distance is about 16 feet.
I had no problem at all during normal usage. Blu-ray disc, HDTV, TV, everything worked fine. I found no differences in lip sync, from my previous settings, as I separate out the audio with my switcher, routing it by optical digital to my receiver.
The one thing I did notice, is that if anyone stood between the sender and receiver, there is some signal loss and noise appears, mostly around the borders. Quite noticeable. So, the bottom line is that even at 16 feet, you can't put anything overly solid between sender and receiver.
For the last week, the receiver is sitting next to my JVC RS-20 on a shelf just over 10 feet off the floor, on the back wall. I estimate the line of site between 25 and 26 feet.
I've no issues with signal at all. Everything has been almost perfect. I'll take Gefen's word that it is lossless. Blu-Ray discs look great, and I can still see the compression artifacts on the satellite signal.
Rarely does anything work perfectly, 100% of the time, and a couple of times my JVC RS20 (who's HDMI does tend to be a bit more sensitive than many other projectors), has not locked onto the HDMI signal from the receiver.
Both times when that happened, powering down the Sender unit for a few seconds, and powering it back up again, solved the problem. That's like twice, out of perhaps 100+ times switching between sources. Likely, cycling the JVC's power or inputs would have accomplished the same, but powering the sender, off and on, is faster/easier. In each case, in less than 30 seconds, I was back up and running.
I never lost the connection once established, on any viewing, be it Blu-ray 1080p 60, or 1080i 60 from my DirecTV satellite box.
It seems to take my JVC longer to lock on to a signal. It's slow with my Sony PS3, which kicks in and out of different modes a lot, when starting up a disc. None the less it gets the job done. Before, I'd see the modes changing, the delays. With the WirelessHD it seems like those change to quickly for it to grab them, so the screen stays pretty quiet until it's all done and the movie is up. Sorta nice, actually.
One thing of note, this is an HDMI 1.3 device. HDMI 1.4 is coming. So is 3D, etc. That's just a reminder than nothing lasts forever. This device may serve very well for a couple or more years, but sooner or later, new standards and more bandwidth may well outdate it. At this time Gefen doesn't have anything formal regarding future compatibilities.
So far, the GTV-WirelessHD is a single receiver system, which is too bad in terms of multi-room, but then it really doesn't have the range. Perhaps future models will have more range and multi-receiver options.
The GTV-WirelessHD works as advertised. It provides a reliable, lossless HDMI signal to at least 26 feet (as far as we measured) of it's 30 foot claimed range.
GTV-Wireless HD Highlights
- Support for full HDTV, including 720p, 1080i 60, 1080P 30, 60
- Supports advanced audio over HDMI including Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio
- Lossless transmission
- Supports CEC for control compatibility (room control units, PC's etc.)
- Pricey, but may be a cost saver in many installations
- Easy to install
- It works very nicely - at least as far as my testing goes (only 25 feet, Gefen claims 30 feet, but sometimes claims in their lit, 10 meters, which is about 3 feet longer)
- Assorted blue and yellow indicator lights are bright enough that you might want to do something about itwhen working with a projector in fully darkened room. I put a little electrical tape over most of the lighting, leaving just enough so I can spot power on/off, and if the lights are blinking (when a good connection between sender and receiver have not been established). Problem solved
- Supports computer over HDMI up to WUXGA (1920x1080). Maximum resolution: 2048x1080
Technology: WHDI 1.0 (using AMIMON Inc. lossless/wireless technology)
Warranty: Two years parts and labor
225 MHz Video Bandwidth
Lip-Sync Pass Through
Dolby TrueHD & DTS Master Audio
HDMI and HDCP Compliant
The sender unit has an hdmi input, and the receiver has an hdmi output. How's that for simple. OK, there's also an RS232 on each unit. With RS-232 for command and control, you could use RS-232 to power up and down both the sender and receiver units.
Alternately, the pair of units come with a remote control to power them up and down. Guess what, whether by room controller, or remote control, it's worth the trouble to shut them down when not in use. Each unit is rated an 18 watt draw. That 36 watts total, which adds up to a fair amount of kilowatts if you let them run 24/7. Out here in LA LA land, I figure that's about $60 a year and change. One more item to add to a programmable remote, room controller, PC, or, use the provided remote.
I'm pleased, from a practical standpoint, the Gefen hdmi wireless solution performs as advertised. I'll be adding this to my equipment in my main theater, as it solves a long standing, real problem, and does so, without any real issues.
Gefen also offers two other HDMI wireless extenders - however neither are lossless, and therefore were not of particular interest to me. One, though, of note, claims a range of 100 feet, and has a multi-room option. That one is the somewhat similarlynamed: GTV-WHDMI, not to be confused with this one, the GTV-WirelessHD.