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Video Sender wireless communication solution

Note: TechnoFILE's Test unit was provided by K&W Audio.

Here’s a nifty way to get your satellite signal to a second TV in your home without buying a second receiver.

It’s the Video Sender Wireless Communication Solution, a $120 or so unit that takes any audio and/or video signal and sends it up to 300 feet to a remote location.

Available from a variety of brands, it does this using basically the same 2.4 gigahertz technology of today’s higher end cordless phones, and in a quick weekend test at our place it worked beautifully.

The last time we tried such a gadget aimed at getting TV signals from point A to point B it was a horrible experience, with a unit that forced you to string a little wire through the house and that put so much snow and other distortion onto the destination screen that it wasn’t worthwhile.

That was then, clearly, and this is now. Other than some interference when someone walked in front of the receiver unit, its performance was first rate.

We used it to send the signal from our satellite receiver, which is downstairs in the home theater, to the little 13 inch TV in our bedroom. Since the Video Sender only outputs composite video and stereo audio via RCA jacks, and the bedroom TV only has a cable input, this meant a little bit of messing around, but nothing major. All we did was hook a VCR up to the TV and then plug the Video Sender’s receiving unit into the VCR’s audio/video input jacks and then run the signal via cable from the VCR to the TV – and then just left the TV on channel 3. In short, it was just like hooking up a VCR to a TV under normal circumstances.

At the source end, all it took was to run patch cords from the satellite receiver to the sending unit, which perched happily right next to it on our equipment stand.

The units are small (about five inches square and about an inch thick) so it’s easy to find space for them; you just perch it near the component you want it to interface with, patch it in, plug in the included AC adapter, and repeat the process at the other end. Then flip both units on and Presto!

The receiving unit even comes with a little Infrared remote control transmitter that lets you use your “downstairs” remote upstairs. Our satellite receiver uses radio instead of IR, so we couldn’t try that part but we have no reason to think it won’t work (we’ve tried this type of trick before with good success). As far as the radio remote we use is concerned, it wasn’t an issue because it basically uses the same technology as the remote sender itself to send commands through the floors to the satellite receiver.

Audio and video quality in our test was just fine, though our low end “mainstream” receiving TV wasn’t the best of tests (but our reference unit would have been worse, since it would have been about three feet from the transmitter and that would have defeated the purpose).

And since the Video Sender uses RCA jacks, which other than on our bedroom TV are pretty well universal, you can transmit signals other than satellite TV. You can send the picture and sound from a VCR, digital or analog cable box, CD player (without picture, of course), or even a DVD player. You could even use it for a kind of Mickey Mouse video conferencing if you hook up a camcorder and use it to shoot you live. That way, you could handle an overflow crowd at your lecture, by transmitting the action to another TV fairly close by.

The sender lets you choose from four channels to not only help reduce interference, but to let you use more than one system simultaneously.

The only real drawback to the unit comes when watching TV: whoever’s watching on the remote television has to watch the same program that’s playing “downstairs” on the source unit. This didn’t cause a problem for us, since we only had the unit for a bit more than a weekend, but over time I think it would be a minor annoyance, since not everyone goes to bed at the same time every night and this lack of channel flexibility prevents two people from watching two different programs.

This isn’t a criticism of the video sender; it’s the nature of the beast. The same problem would happen if you were to put a splitter on the output of a satellite receiver and run it to multiple TV’s. The only way to get channel changing capability on both TV’s is to have a separate satellite tuner for each one.

Still, for the price it’s a problem with which we could live. Sure, you could almost buy a second satellite receiver for the price of this sender, but then you have to head to the roof (at our home, anyway) to string a second cable (you have to buy the second cable, too, of course) and then bring it into the house to hook into the second receiver.

Besides, it would cost us substantially more: if we’re to get a second receiver, we’re determined that it be an HDTV one, to best exploit the capabilities of our reference big screen, and you won’t find one of them for the price of this video sender.

Still, we bought my father a satellite system a couple of years ago, one that uses the radio frequency type of remote control, and had this unit been available back then it would have saved us a lot of hassle. You see, he lives alone and so there wouldn’t be the same problem with having to watch the same channel on both TV’s: there’s only him and, remarkable as my dad is, he can’t be in two places at once.

So you never know; this type of Video Sender may just be the best compromise around, depending on your needs.


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January 31, 2006