Netgear Push 2 TV review
The advent of catch-up TV, means we watch a big proportion of our TV via a web browser. Although it's just about acceptable to stick a laptop on your coffee table and watch programmes on iPlayer and other on-demand services, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of sound quality - and the size of the image.
The alternative is to hook your laptop up to your TV. This is easy if your laptop and TV have HDMI ports, but you’ll need a long and messy cable if you want to keep your laptop in arms reach, handy if you want to press pause. Intel's new WiDi technology aims to change all this by letting you beam your laptop's audio and video wirelessly to your TV.
Standing for Wireless Display, WiDi cleverly uses existing 2.4GHz WiFi technology to send the sound and video. Unfortunately, there are two immediate problems. First, your TV can't receive this signal without an additional gadget, and second, you need a laptop with a Core i3/5/7 processor, Intel HD graphics and a Wireless-N 1000, Advanced-N 6200 or Ultimate-N 6300 WiFi adaptor. So, this means you'll probably need to invest in a new laptop such as Dell's Inspiron 15R, plus a box such as Netgear's Push 2 TV.
Fortunately, once you have these devices it's very simple to get them working together. The Push 2 TV has HDMI plus composite/phono audio outputs; the only other wire needed is for the power supply. From the laptop, all that's required is to launch the WiDi software and search for a compatible adaptor, similar to searching for WiFi networks. You then enter the code displayed on your TV and the connection is established.
Your laptop's display is mirrored on the TV - there's no way to create an extended desktop as you can with an external monitor. This means, for example, that you can't send a video to your TV and continue web browsing on your laptop's screen. It's fiddly to get the picture to completely fill your TV screen as you have to use the WiDi software to enlarge or decrease the size. You'll also have to alter the laptop's power settings to avoid the screensaver interrupting your viewing; while if you want to close the lid, you'll need to set this action to 'do nothing' in the Control Panel. It's a shame the software has no quick link to power settings or better still, a way of temporarily overriding them while it’s running.
We were surprised by the amount of lag between the laptop and TV - between one and two seconds. The mouse cursor isn't shown by default for this reason. We were also shocked by the high compression used to transmit the video. Degradation was clear compared to the image on the laptop's screen. You can pretty much forget about watching programmes or videos in HD. 720p clips did stream ok, but the resulting poor quality made this slightly pointless.
We also experienced several disconnections, despite the laptop being less than 3m from the receiver. Given its flaws and the disappointing quality, there's little reason to pay this much money for the Push 2 TV PTV1000. For now, you're better off sticking with an inexpensive HDMI cable.
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