Summary

Our Score

6/10

Review Price free/subscription

Q-Waves Quicklink HD - Performance & Competition

Much like physically plugging in another display, a successful setup will see a second monitor turn up in your display properties with the option to duplicate or extend your Windows desktop to it. Normally I'd advise extending the desktop so you can keep doing what you want on the main screen, but dragging active video playback causes the QuickLink HD to get confused and often results in playback locking up completely. The solution is either duplicate your screen or don't start a media player's video playback before the player is dragged to the second screen.

Overcome these niggles and you'll be annoyed they were there in the first place because the QuickLink HD actually works rather well. The instructions emphasise that a line of sight be maintained between dongle and receiver and keep that distance within 6m and both 720p and 1080p video plays back without any problems. Furthermore because the codec support is being done on your PC there's no fear of incompatible files. Enjoy sites like YouTube, BBC iPlayer or Lovefilm? Again because of the direct connection you don't need to worry about widgets, just load up the website and click play. If your PC can handle it then so can your second QuickLink HD display.

With HDMI all sound is also sent to the TV (a prompt pops up a shortcut to swap over your audio playback from PC speakers to wireless USB) and everything is rosy. Meanwhile for legacy users the dock has a VGA port and optical out for audio. That said, for a supposedly wireless solution that's one more wire added to your setup.

In fact here lies a fundamental problem with not just the QuickLink HD, but wireless USB in general. If the aim is to cut down on wiring then it doesn't work because a long HDMI cable may have to pass under the carpet or around the skirting boards, but it is super fast and just one wire. Wireless USB still requires an HDMI cable (just a shorter one) and it requires a power socket. Yes it brings freedom, but this is limited because - unlike WiFi - line of sight is essential. Playback can be made to stop just by putting your hand in front of the dongle and it can stutter even when someone briefly walks between the dongle and receiver. Anything other than a model setup and you can kiss smooth 1080p streaming goodbye.

The other problem all wireless HDMI products face is Intel's WiDi 2.0 which is included in all Sandy Bridge chipsets. WiDi again needs a receiver to be attached to the TV (Intel estimates prices will be circa $99), but it requires no line of sight, eliminates the need for a dongle to be attached to the laptop and is part of any new Sandy Bridge laptop or PC. Intel also claims WiDi will be fitted as standard into many new TVs meaning the receiver won't be needed for long either. Yes you have to purchase a new computer to enjoy this, but it looks as if it may gain major industry momentum.

Verdict
Ultimately while it promises much in theory the Q-Waves QuickLink HD has too many caveats to recommend it in reality. The installation software needs overhauling, optimum line of sight restricts wireless freedom and you'll actually be using more wires in this setup than by keeping a single HDMI cable spare around the back of your TV. The price isn't unreasonable and for some it will prove a worthwhile solution, but cinephiles will require a wired connection and the rest of us should probably wait for Intel's Sandy Bridge and WiDi 2.0…

Scores In Detail

Performance
6/10
Value
7/10

Our Score

6/10
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