About the WarpiaTV Wireless Edition - SWP550
The $199 SWP550 comprises two functions: wireless streaming of video from a PC to TV and a Wireless Motion Controller that behaves as a free space mouse.
The Wireless Motion Controller (an OEM version of the hillcrest labs Scoop remote control) consists of a USB receiver for the PC and the handheld motion controller itself. The streaming is accomplished by a base station that connects to the TV via HDMI and has a USB port for the wireless receiver. The wireless transmitter plugs into a USB port on the PC. Warpia also provide a re-branded version of the Kylo internet browser, which is specifically designed for a lean-back experience.
The components appear to be robustly constructed. The wireless transmitter and receiver both feature swiveling USB ports, which come in handy when USB ports are too close together or one contains an extra-wide device.
Setup was a breeze: connect the base station to the TV’s HDMI input and plug in the wireless receiver; install the driver on the PC and plug in the wireless transmitter. The receiver for the wireless motion controller simply plugs in with no driver required.
My laptop automatically changed its resolution from 1920x1200 to HDTV resolution (1920x1080) and it connected to the base station without a hitch. I set the picture mode on my Kuro to dot-by-dot, which resulted in a perfect fit of image and screen. The quality of the picture was fantastic.
The documentation clearly states that the line of sight is required for video. Of course, that’s like a red rag to a bull: I had to see what happened when I lost line of sight. As expected, I lost the connection and the picture. The same wasn’t true of the wireless motion detector. Left my laptop in the dining room, cut through the corner of the kitchen to the living room, and sat on the sofa some 15 feet away and two stud walls away from my laptop. The motion sensor worked great. As long as the product is used as recommended (with line of sight communications), the video signal is maintained.
Carrying out normal day-today tasks such reading e-mails, writing documents and surfing the web all went well. Picture quality was excellent and I’d never have guessed it was a wireless solution. When I decided to test some of the advertised HD streaming videos, things weren’t so great. First thing that needs to be done for Flash content is to disable hardware acceleration. I followed the instructions here and went in search of H.264 1080p clips. I stumbled across a clip from transformers. At first pass, it looked pretty good, but after noticing some compression artifacts in other content, I went back to it and noticed the same issue around the 17 sec point (above the lamp on the right in the interior shot). The effect can be seen somewhat in the photo below.
I then tried Netflix streaming, Windows Media center and my own HD mkv files. The results were the same: anywhere there was a smooth tonal transition, there was banding in the video. The same banding didn’t show on my 17” laptop or 27” desktop display. Strangely, even the blue background in Windows Media Center contained banding, but my very similar Windows 7 desktop background did not.
Wireless Motion Controller Results
I’m a convert. I was skeptical of waving the mouse about to control the mouse pointer. I’ve played Wii disc golf a few times at a friend’s house and was repeatedly frustrated about how difficult it was to pick up the disc. The motion sensor was accurate and a joy to use. The most frustrating part was the Kylo browser.
The home screen works great in a lean-back scenario. The problem is, virtually every web site you visit takes you to a normal size web pages, so it’s impossible to read. This means you have to use the wheel to zoom in. You then have to use the wheel to scroll up and down in the content. Ordinarily, this isn’t a problem; however, the zoom level goes back to normal whenever you back to the home page. This means you then have to zoom in again. When browsing web pages rapidly this becomes a problem as you are frequently using the wheel for zoom and then scroll and then scroll. You quickly end up using it in the wrong mode (at least I did). This is no fault of the hardware: simply a limitation of the Kylo browser.
With nine buttons and a scroll wheel, and full 6-axis control, it has nearly everything need…except one thing: a back button.
For desktop sharing and slide presentations the video results were great. If you’re someone who notices compression aritifacts and is annoyed by them (like me), you’re probably going to be frustrated with the video results. As for the wireless motion controller: it’s a gem. I just wish it had a back button.