Games consoles, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, media players, media PCs – it's no wonder the cables surrounding our TVs are starting to resemble the back of our PCs. The good news is that we have a unified standard, HDMI, to link them all together. The bad news is the seemingly obvious solution: wireless HDMI has no standard and is dogged by price and performance issues. So could something remarkably simple actually be the answer?
From Q-Waves comes the QuickLink HD, the follow-up for the QuickLink it launched last year and – as the name suggests – adds High Definition capabilities to its wireless streaming. Unlike the various wireless HDMI standards, Q-Waves has taken a much more straightforward route: it has employed Wireless USB. With a peak theoretical transfer rate of 480Kbps both 720p and 1080p are on the menu. Unlike wireless HDMI, its price is also closer to £100 compared to the £400-500 wireless HDMI setups we've seen to date.
In theory it is also very simple to setup. Plug one dongle into your PC, plug the other into a neat dock. The dock has an HDMI port to connect to the TV and a power lead to plug into a wall socket. Install the supplied software and you should be all done. So was the answer staring us in the face all along? Sadly not really.
Open up the box and everything starts very well. The QuickLink HD bundle is generous enough to include a one metre HDMI cable and the wall plug has detachable pins with both UK and European connectors supplied. Given the QuickLink HD is fairly portable it means there would be no reason to stop you taking it on holiday and streaming some movies from a laptop to the hotel TV or using it for presentations. Documentation is also clear and easy to follow and everything suggests you'll be up and running in no time. Problem is, you won't.
Getting set up is – to put it mildly – a faff. This review is being written late at night because of the hours spent wrestling with the installation software. There's no Mac compatibility so you'd think the Windows focus would ensure everything works. It doesn't. A simple Windows 7 64bit install failed three times across two different laptops producing Runtime and DirectX errors and knocking desktops out of Aero mode. The install also stopped Microsoft and Logitech wireless mice working until a reboot and twice each machine refused to boot until they were restored to their state prior to the software install. For something as simple as wireless USB, things should be a lot easier – drivers should really be on the dongles – and the software (despite it being obtained via the official website) is in desperate need of an update.
Thankfully once you are up and running things get better…