Air HD Offers Affordable Wireless HD

air_hdIf there’s one thing I hate, it’s clutter. That’s why I love the idea of wireless HD products, which allow you to transmit high-definition content without a mess of unsightly wires. And, now I’ve found a wireless HD kit that actually comes at an affordable price: Brite-View’s $350 Air HD. While the Air HD doesn’t live up to all of the manufacturer’s claims about its prowess, this wireless HD kit is worth a look.

The Air HD Wireless HD Transmitter and Receiver kit works much like Gefen’s $999 Wireless HDMI Extender Kit, which I reviewed earlier this year. Both kits include a wireless transmitter, which connects to your video source via HDMI or component A/V, and a receiver, which connects to your display via HDMI. The Air HD includes one HDMI cable, but that’s all — you’ll have to supply your own HDMI or component A/V cord for making the other connection.

Once both parts are connected, you just turn them on and you’re in business. The transmitter can connect to four video sources (two HDMI, two component A/V) and the included remote lets you switch between them easily.

I started my tests with both the transmitter and receiver in the same room, about 10 feet apart, and the performance was flawless. The Air HD supports resolutions up to 1080i at 60Hz and 1080p at 24Hz. My TV maxes out at 720p, and the HD content I streamed using an HDMI connection looked great. The picture was crisp and clear, with absolutely no blockiness.

Brite-View says the Air HD can transmit video at distances up to 65 feet when you have a line-of-sight connection; I was unable to test this claim because I just don’t have one room in my house with that much space. The company also says you can transmit video at a distance of 32 feet when you don’t have a line of sight; in my tests, this did not prove true.

When both the transmitter and receiver were in the same room, performance remained flawless, even without a line-of-sight connection. I had both products about 10 to 15 feet apart, hidden behind chairs and shelves, and saw no disruption. But when I moved the transmitter into another room, I was out of luck. The transmitter remained connected to the receiver, but the video didn’t make the journey: My screen simply went black. The transmitter was only about 20 feet away from the receiver — far short of Brite-View’s 32-foot limit. Still, this performance is only slightly worse than what I got with Gefen’s WirelessHDMI Extender: When placed in that exact same location, that product was able to transmit some video, but much of it was broken up.

The Gefen uses ultra-wideband wireless technology, whereas Brite-View’s Air HD kit uses Amimon’s WHDI chip.  WHDI products are  supposed to be more expensive than those based on the competing WirelessHD standard, but the Air HD kit is bargain priced. The Gefen kit performed a tiny bit better, sure, but not nearly enough to warrant the $650 price jump. I’d opt for the Air HD and put the savings in the bank — or into my next big-screen TV.