The Intel Wireless Display does indeed make viewing multimedia content from your computer and network on your home theater or conference room display. The Netgear Push2TV (PTV1000) cannot be easier to set up. Just plug in the power and the HDMI cable, turn it on, and you’re are off!
The real question: Is it worth it? Remember this Wireless Display or WiDi capability comes only with a handful of laptops on the market today. The $899 Toshiba E205 that we had is a great laptop that already has an Intel Core i5 processor with an HDMI output that can easily plug into your HDTV. Having the ability to do Intel Wireless Display is nice, but keep in mind you need to have a box like the $99.99 Netgear Push2TV (P2TV1000) every place you go where you want to use this technology. If you want to go to work, school, a friends house or the local pub you can’t just walk in and push a button and have your digital content on the screen. It would be nice to do that, but we aren’t there yet. If you have to buy several Push2TV boxes you can see how your expenses can quickly add up. The question of is it worth it is really one that you have to answer for yourself as it really depends on your specific usage scenario.
We did notice the picture quality wasn’t as crisp or clear using the Intel WiDi Push2Talk setup as it is when you use the PlayStation 3 or any of the set top boxes we have reviewed in the past like the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ or Western Digital TV Live!.
The sound is automatically pushed through to the Push2TV adapter as well and we saw no effects of sound syncing issues. Very nice.
We made a quick little video showing how we put the Wireless Display to the test using our Toshiba E205:
One thing I didn’t like though was that I couldn’t get more than 2.1 digital surround out of my MKVs. Even when hooked up directly to my Denon receiver, the Netgear Push2TV adapter didn’t send more than stereo surround. As an audiophile, this really annoyed me.
Another issue that cropped up from time to time was when I was trying to watch 1080p files over my gigabit network. Files that resided on my NAS or other shared drive were more prone to stuttering audio or choppy video. Every 720p file that I played over the network worked flawlessly so if your library consists of mainly 720p rips, you will not have any problems using the Intel WiDi solution. However, if you use 1080 rips over a network, you might not have enough bandwidth to enjoy these files at full resolution.
One other thing that bothered me is how the Netgear PTV1000 adapter doesn’t utilize Dual Band Wireless Routers. My Netgear WNDR3700 Router is able to operate simultaneously in 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz to offer up twice the bandwidth when used with “Dual-Band” adapters. It would seem logical that Netgear would offer this up for their Push2TV adapter. But the reality is that the Netgear adapter only works in one band – 2.4GHz. Opening the Push2TV adapter to dual band would make our 1080p stuttering go away. For now, we’ll leave that on our list of future “upgrades”.
Overall, we really like the Intel Wireless Display functionality but we have to temper our enthusiasm as we compare it to solutions that are already on the market. The Intel WiDi is certainly very convenient – especially if you watch or present multimedia content that is on your laptop. The problem is that there are only a handful of laptops on the market right now that can work with the Netgear Push2TV adapter. The alternative is to get a simple ‘set-top’ box like the Western Digital WDTV Live! or the Seagate FreeAgent+ and stream your multimedia content through your network or from a local hard drive. Of course this solution is not as tricked-out as the push-button one on your laptop, but for those not looking to upgrade their entire computer it can save quite a bit of money.
With that said, however, we can’t wait to see the Wireless Display function as a standard feature in future Intel-based laptops!
Legit Bottom Line: For those looking to purchase a new laptop in the near future I would certainly recommend any one of the “Blue Label Laptops” because of their performance, functionality, and looks. But if you have a good machine already, but want the functionality that Intel’s Wireless Display’s give you, then you should probably just look for a set-top box and save some money.