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DVDO Air3 WirelessHD Adapter

I never have quite understood the fear and loathing that seems to surround wires.

Both transmitter and receiver for the DVDO Air3 literally fit in the palm of your hand, making them easier to install and, more importantly, easier to hide. I never have quite understood the fear and loathing that seems to surround wires. With the exception of my iPhones, iPads, two portable wireless speaker systems (one indoor, one outdoor), and a Roku Stick, all of the network-connected devices in my home have their own hard-wired Ethernet connection. My wireless-capable printer is firmly affixed to my PC with a USB cable. My security cameras? Wired. My wireless-capable security system? Wired. And I mention all of that merely to lay bare all of my biases when it comes to a product like DVDO’s new Air3 WirelessHD Adapter.

If you recall my review of IOGEAR’s AVIOR Wireless HD Kit from a few years back, you may remember that the bulk of the review consisted of me trying to figure out what the heck to do with the thing. That ended up not being as significant a problem with DVDO’s Air3, because unlike other wireless HDMI transmitters and receivers on the market, the Air3 is much more purpose-built. It is intended as a (mostly) line-of-sight device, designed to deliver a full HD signal from point-to-point within the same room. And I can see you scrunching your nose already, but bear with me for a minute, because its in-room, (mostly) line-of-sight design isn’t the only thing that sets this wireless adapter apart.

The reason the Air3 lacks the ability to penetrate walls is that it’s built on 60GHz wireless technology, unlike the 5GHz band that dominates the wireless video market. So yes, that does limit the Air3’s range (DVDO advertises 10 meters, but honestly there isn’t a straight stretch of interior space that long inside my house, so I couldn’t test that claim), but it also cuts the number of wireless devices likely to interfere with the Air3’s performance down to zero. And yes, that’s still the case even if you already have 60GHz devices in the home, because the technology is pretty much point-to-point.

The use of 60GHz wireless technology also allows the Air3 to transmit 4 Gigabits per second of truly uncompressed audio and video from your source (or AV receiver or processor) to your display, with near-zero latency. Granted, that’s not a big enough pipeline to transmit 4K at 60 frames per second, uncompressed, but let’s burn that bridge when we get to it, hmm?

I imagine that the lack of compression hardware (as well as the lack of legacy video and audio connections) is also what allowed DVDO to deliver the device in such a diminutive package. Both transmitter and receiver literally fit in the palm of your hand, making them easier to install and, more importantly, easier to hide. Granted, there’s only so much hiding you can do with devices that have to “see” each other, but the secreting is made a little easier by the fact that the Air3 can basically use your walls and ceiling as mirrors, so to speak. To test that out, I installed the transmitter on the output end of my Anthem D2v 3D processor and the receiver to the input of my Samsung plasma, aimed both at the ceiling, plugged in their respective power supplies–a discreet wall wart for the transmitter; a USB connection (sans its included wall adapter) powered by my TV for the receiver–and that was that. The Air3 just worked.

And it worked with everything I threw at it, from Blu-ray 3D clips of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey–Extended Edition to video from my MHL Roku Stick to, perhaps more critically, an extended play session of Gran Turismo on the PS3, a game that hinges upon frame rates as high as 60 per second and split-second reaction times that leave absolutely no room for latency. Even an ounce of lag would make GT all but unplayable, and while DVD claims “near-zero” latency for the Air3, in my experience that “near” is unnecessary. The video processing built into most receivers and displays add infinitely more delay.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that DVDO includes everything you’d need to get the Air3 connected and installed inside the box, including two HDMI cables, the aforementioned power adapters, and mounting brackets for both transmitter and receiver. The brackets are designed for easy wall or ceiling mounting (via included screws) or positioning on the back of your rack and/or TV using the included double-sided sticky tape. In truth, getting the backing off of the tape turned out to be the most difficult part of the entire installation process.

Thankfully, repositioning the bracket once you’ve got it stuck in place isn’t nearly as tricksy. I initially mounted it in DVDO’s recommended position, with the receiver peeking over the top of the TV, then decided to flip the receiver around and mount it a little lower, out of sight, to test the system’s “bouncing” capabilities. Lowering it out of sight didn’t affect performance in the slightest, because the receiver could “see” the signal from the transmitter bouncing off the ceiling. If the connections between my amp and front three speakers weren’t custom, cut-to-length-and-terminated Straight Wire cables, I would seriously consider moving my rack to the back of the room and let the Air3 serve as the sole connection between my AV processor and display.

Of course, given the installation flexibility, there are any number of other ways you could employ the Air3 within a single room. It would be handy, for example, in getting an HDMI signal from your rack to a ceiling-mounted projector without running cables through the ceiling. You could also use it as a latency-free alternative to Miracast, streaming audio and video from MHL-equipped smartphones and tablets.

However you use it, though, the DVDO Air3 WirelessHD Adapter does what it does very well. Its (mostly) line-of-sight design may be a drag for some, but then again, sometimes you have to pick your battles. Do you want a wireless MHL/HDMI solution this robust, this capable, and this easy to install, or do you want to one that works through walls?


The DVDO Air3 WirelessHD Adapter works wonderfully, delivering latency-free, uncompressed 1080p, 60fps, and 3D video, and it installs in minutes

The in-room, (almost) line-of-sight requirement may be a bummer for some, but that’s just the nature of 60GHz wireless.

Product Specs
• 60GHz WirelessHD Technology
• Low latency ideal for gaming and interactive video streaming
• Free from Wi-Fi Interference
• 1080p60 MHL Connectivity
• CEC to RCP for connected MHL device
• 3D Support
• CEC pass through
• Ease of Installation: 10+ mounting options
• Low power consumption

Micro Review: Westone’s Custom ES5 In-Ear Headphones

by Jeremy J. Glowacki

Westone’s custom in-ear headphones are a great fit for any custom integrator that cares about the best sounding and best looking portable audio experience. The price point (starting at $950 retail) and custom nature of Westone’s in-ear headphones line seem like a great match for retail-centric custom integrators, even if involving an audiologist in the process could provide a new twist on traditional business partnerships. I’ve always felt a bit claustrophobic while wearing “standard-issue” in-ear earbuds, so I was surprised by how comfortable the Westones have been. Using the provided OTO-EASE gel created a proper seal inside the ear and the earphones are relatively lightweight even though they fill the entire outer ear with your choice of color and other optional decorative elements. I now prefer my Westone’s over my acoustically subpar, but user friendly, Apple earbuds, but for the money, I wish they offered an in-line volume control.