DVDO AIR 4K Wireless HDMI

One of the biggest challenges when installing a projector or new flat panel TV is running the HDMI cable from the video display back to the A/V rack. Running a cable through a wall which could involve cutting holes and patching drywall can take much longer the mounting the unit itself. In addition, routing the cable to hide it from view usually requires a much longer HDMI which could be very expensive.

The DVDO AIR 4K is a wireless HDMI system that eliminates the hassle of running a new or replacing an old HDMI cable. It is rated to support wireless transmission of 4K@30p content at distances up to 10 meters/33 feet. On top of 4K resolution, DVDO Air 4K is also HDCP 2.2 compliant and supports 3D, CEC and 7.1-channel lossless digital audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Since it is a HDMI 1.4b device, the DVDO Air 4K supports bandwidth transmission of up to 10.2 Gbps which is more than enough to view most 4K SDR content.

Hardware Overview

The system consists of a transmitter and receiver along with two power supplies. There are also two stands included if you want to mount the units upright. Compare other 4K compatible wireless HDMI system, the AIR 4K is very compact so there should be a no problem hiding the two units behind a display or in a rack. On both receiver and transmitter units there are power and status lights, an HDMI connection and a single function button. The transmitter should be connected to source device while the receiver should be connected to a TV, projector.

Since the requirement is only 5V/1A DC, you can power the receiver unit through the USB port found on the back of many flat panel TVs and projectors via USB to Micro-USB cable. As a test, I used the USB port on my laptop to power the transmitter and the USB input on the back of a projector to power the receiver.

There is also a DVDO Air Configuration Utility available for download which can be used to update the system firmware, check system signal strength, and make setting adjustments.

Highlights

  • Transmit 4K@30Hz, 1080P@60Hz wirelessly more than 30 feet
  • HDMI 1.4b, HDCP 2.2 compliant
  • Up to 7.1 channels HD audio
  • CEC support
  • Uncompressed 4K Video & Audio
  • 60GHz frequency signal for reduced wireless interference
  • Nearly zero latency for lag free gaming

Performance

Since the AIR 4K is a HDMI 1.4b device it has a maximum bandwidth limit of 10.2Gbps but most 4K SDR content is well below the 10Gbps threshold. The main exception being 4K@60p, so when gaming you will have to choose between higher frame rates and 4K resolution. The AIR is not compatible with 4K High Dynamic Range.

While higher frame rates and resolution is important so is higher color depth. Many 4K sources like UHD Blu-ray and streaming players can deliver not only higher resolution but also substantially more color information. While 8-bit color can deliver 16.7 million colors, 12-bit color depth can reproduce 68 billion colors. The DVDO AIR 4K supports 1080P@60P with up to 12-bit color depth but since it is a HDMI 1.4 device at 4K resolution its color depth is limited to 8-bit. Note that 8-bit color is more than enough for viewing 4K SDR content, but higher color depth is desirable when watching 4K HDR material because it dramatically reduces visible color banding.

DVDO Air 4K is rated to work in direct line-of-sight or single bounce environments at distances of up to 10 meters (about 33 feet). The Air 4K operates at a radio frequency of 60GHz which does not go through concrete, metal, or thick wood so the device works best within one room. Longer distances are possible, but it depends on the transmitter and receiver placement and the room design. If there is direct line-of-sight and no obstructions, AIR 4K is effective at well over 20 meters (66 feet). This is particularly useful in auditoriums, meeting rooms, home cinemas, and other open installations.

To verify the DVDO AIR 4K claimed bandwidth capability, I used my Murideo test pattern generator to feed the transmitter and my signal analyzer to measure the receiver’s output. As advertised, the system transmitter had no problem broadcasting a 4K@30P SDR test signal to the receiver 30 feet way. When I attempted to transmit a 4K@60P signal across the room, all I got was a blank screen. I tested the AIR 4K in my demo room and the system had no problem transmitting 4K movie content to the projector from my A/V rack located 14 feet away.

While the DVDO AIR 4K could transmit the 4K HDR@24P test signal from the Murideo generator to the Murideo analyzer across the room, the signal didn’t include the HDR Metadata required to switch an HDR display into its HDR mode. While I could manually switch an HDR display into HDR mode, the limited 8-bit color depth probably result in visible color banding.

DVDO Air 4K does not support ARC (Audio Return Channel) which means you can’t send multi-channel audio from a TV’s internal app like Netflix back to an AV receiver located in a rack. If you desire ARC at long distances, you will need to upgrade to a more expensive active HDMI cable or high-end HDbaseT HDMI extender. The lack of ARC support usually isn’t an issue in a projector installation because most projectors don’t feature built-in streaming apps.

Conclusion

The DVDO AIR 4K which retails for $399 is a great solution for auditoriums and meeting rooms where you need to connect a source to a video display across the room. Its effective operating distance should be more than enough for most single room applications. It is a great way to eliminate a distracting HDMI cable in a conference room hanging down from a ceiling mounted projector.

In home cinema applications, to take advantage of 4K HDR or 4K SDR@60P, you might require a higher bandwidth than the DVDO AIR 4K can deliver There are very few wireless HDMI solutions available on the market that support 4K@60P. The IOGear GWLR4K60KIT which retails for $599, will support 4K@60P but it is bulker, more expensive, and doesn’t support HDR. I haven’t discovered a wireless HDMI system yet that supports 4K HDR.

If you are looking for a wireless 4K HDMI solution for a home theater, it might be better to utilize the lower priced DVDO AIR 2K (retail $229) until a full featured HDMI 2.0b wireless solution becomes available. Art used the AIR 2K during his Superbowl party to transmit video to a UST projector in his living room. After he adjusted position of the receiver to maximize signal strength, the system had no problems passing a 1080 signal through one wall and one door, and about 30 feet.

Most business applications do not utilize HDR, so the lack of the capability is not a deal breaker. The resolution and frame rate capabilities of the DVDO Air 4K are more than enough to display graphics, images, presentations, and videos at their maximum quality. If you are looking for a compact, reliable wireless HDMI system for a meeting or classroom, the DVDO AIR 4K should be on your short list.

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