Belkin plans to banish many wires and
boxes from your lounge
I came to the conclusion that I could rely
on Belkin to do something different a while back, but the Screencast AV4 is
certain proof, if it were needed.
When I first unpacked the AV4, I assumed
that the big box with all the HDMI inputs was designed to sit under the TV with
all the AV equipment, while the smaller box was deployed elsewhere in the home
to receive whichever device you select. No, actually this is gizmo does exactly
the opposite of that.
Belkin's logic in the ScreenCast AV4 is
that what you'd really like is a wall-mounted TV, with all the other guff
hidden in a cupboard somewhere else in the house. So the 'sender' that accepts
four HDMI devices is located with the PVR; and so on and, it sends images and
audio to the TV over 5GHz WI-FI.
My first concern was that the quality of
video over wi-fi might not be great, but with Belkin controlling both ends of
this equation, the ScreenCast AV4 can deliver full 1080p video and 5.1 audio
seemingly unaffected by the wireless transmission over up to 30 metres,
depending on how thick your walls are.
A simple remote allows you to select the
input, and any infrared signals from your other remotes are relayed by the
system to be retransmitted in the remote location. Belkin provides sensors,
which you can place around the equipment stack to send these IR signals to the
individual receivers, making sure the remote requests get to the appropriate
What's really freaky about all this
technology is that it works, and from my experience surprisingly well.
If there is a caveat, the receiver box
needs a power pack to work, which slightly ruins the potential elegance of the
solution. Belkin should devise a power splitter box that takes the mains line
for the TV and reuses it, I'd suggest.
The only other catch is that switching
source isn't instant; taking often longer than ten seconds before the
transition is complete. And, it wouldn't work as well with devices like the
PS3, which use Bluetooth as the control protocol. However, depending how far
away the AV cupboard is, those remotes might work anyway.
The sticking point as ever with hardware of
this quality is the price, which isn't cheap. It comes down to how much you'd
like to have a simple TV-on-a-wall installation and if Belkin releases extra
receivers so you can make it the heart of a video distribution system.
I'm just impressed with the holistic nature
of Belkin's solution, which appeared unaffected by other WI-FI transmissions,
and the originality of its thinking.
Required spec: AV hardware with HDMI outputs
Connect four HDMI devices - For devices like a Blu-ray player, DVR, gaming console and cable
Keep devices out of sight - Store AV equipment up to 30m away - in a cabinet, even in
High-quality picture - Full-HD 1080p resolution,t and 3D video.
High-quality sound - Up to 5.1 channels of surround sound.
- Total device control. Just point your remote at the TV, and ScreenCast does
Video compatibility - 480p (EDTV), 720p (HDTV 2D & 3D), 1080i (HDTV), 1080p
(FHDTV 2D & 3D) Supports 5.1-channel surround sound
2D video resolution compatibility - Up to 1080p 60Hz: 480p / 720p / 1080i / 1080p VGA, XGA, SXGA
3D video support - All mandatory HDMI 1.4a modes: 720p 50/59.94/60Hz, 1080p