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HTF REVIEW: HD FLOW Wireless Multimedia Kit

Hardware Review

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6 replies to this topic

#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 03 2011 - 01:12 AM


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HD FLOW


by Ronald Epstein

March 2011



I have always been fascinated by technology that allowed the transmission of video wirelessly across the home.  Growing up as a teen in a large family, I was the only person that owned a VCR.  I was constantly finding ways of being able to broadcast that VCR to multiple televisions scattered across the home.  I first tried running wire across the attic and through the basement.  Later, I bought one of the first devices that allowed the transmission of an analog signal wirelessly across the home.  The device worked, but picture quality had a lot to be desired as it was prone to all sorts of electrical interference.


You can imagine how intrigued I was when Peerless contacted me about their HD FLOW device.  Here was technology I was very familiar with updated for the digital age.   I asked the company to send me a sample to review.




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The HD FLOW Multimedia Kit promises to provide full 1080p signal transfer wirelessly within or outside the home.


The following information is being provided through their product page:



Features

  • Supports Full Digital HD 1080P(60Hz), 1920x1080
  • Portable Solution - 12-Volt Powered
  • IEEE 802.11n 5GHz WiFi Wireless Connection
  • Up to 130 Feet of Coverage (40 meters)
  • Multiple Digital & Analog Connections Including HDMI, Component, Composite, PC to TV and LAN
  • Lossless Picture Quality
  • No-delay time
  • A Great Solution for Set-Top Box Distribution (IP, Satellite, Cable) to Second TV
  • IR Blaster support
  • 1080p60 Full HD encoding/decoding with H.264 Baseline Profile (Level 4.2)
  • Low Latency of encoding-decoding in 1080p60 HD - Within 30ms
  • Power line communication (PLC) modem
  • Built-in Ethernet LAN port for direct LAN connection
  • Internal Antenna (MIMO, multi-input, multi-output, supported)
  • HDMI-v1.3 (HDCP-v1.1) compliant
  • Supports DTV Standards: 1920x1080i60/p60, 1280x720p60, 720x480i60/p60
  • Supports VESA Standards: WSXGA+(1680x1050), SXGA(1280x1024), WXGA(1280x800), XGA(1024x768), SVGA(800x600), VGA(640x480)




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Inside the box I found both a Transmitter and Receiver device along with accompanying stands.  Also included was a 15-pin D-Sub to RCA female component video cable,  IR blaster emitter cable and 2 x12v Power supplies. Though only one receiver is included, you can add additional units to broadcast up to 4 panels wirelessly.  An included LAN connection allows you to extend the range from 130' to 500' and add an infinite amount of TVs.


The receiver and transmitter are made of plastic.  For the asking price of this package I was expecting somewhat better build quality.


The receiver allows for the input of multiple devices.  For instance, using its two HDMI inputs, you could plug in both a Blu-ray player and xBox device.  You can also use the composite video and stereo RCA jacks to transmit analog signals from and to equipment that does not support HD.


The included remote control allows you to switch inputs on both the Transmitter and Receiver.  For example, sitting at the receiving display you can easily switch between the transmitted components by selecting the corresponding inputs on the remote control.


Using the supplied IR blaster cable which you attach to the remote eye of a component, you can easily control your transmitted device using its own branded remote control.






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The first test I made with this device was to attempt to transmit signal from my Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player from one end of the house to the other.


On the transmitting end, from my home theater component rack, I plugged the HDMI from the output of my Oppo Blu-ray player into the HD FLOW device using one of the two HDMI inputs.  I then attached one of three supplied IR blaster nubs to the remote eye of the Oppo device.  You can see by the above photos there appears a blue radio icon on the top of both the HD FLOW devices.  When the radio icon goes from blinking to solid, it's an indication that a pairing between the two devices has been made.


After an initial bootup that took about a minute, the handshake between the two devices took about 10-15 seconds.  The instructions for the HD FLOW indicate that both transmitter and receiver be upright in their stands to work properly and for best signal results.


The HD FLOW has a broadcast range of 130'.  I would estimate that the distance between the transmitter and receiver was pushing that maximum measurement.  For that reason, it took quite a few attempts to get the two devices to pair.  However, they eventually did, and I was quite pleased to find that the display located on the other side of my home was indeed broadcasting picture and audio from my Blu-ray player.


I found the quality of the broadcast Blu-ray high definition picture to be good, though not perfect.  I could see small artifacts within the picture which was an obvious result of either the compression being used, signal loss, or a combination of both.  Had I been able to move the equipment even closer I might have been able to squelch some of the artifacts.   Audio quality was very good, though I was listening to it through speakers on the Panasonic display rather than a 5.1 receiver.


The next test I made was very similar to the first, this time using my xBox 360.  I was very curious to see if there would be any game lag when broadcasting the signal across the house.   Once again, the broadcast picture looked quite good, and I was very happy to find that I could play my xBox, using the game controller, without any sort of lag whatsoever.   That's quite remarkable.


Finally, I tried transmitting my Series 4 Tivo across the house.  That also worked well, however whenever there was a switch between the 1080p program and 720p menu there were slight handshaking delays.


The only time I experienced picture breakup was when I actually walked in front of the device and pixelation occurred.  It does seem to be rather sensitive to any object that may be blocking it.


I attempted to broadcast an HD signal to an older CRT display that had analog inputs.  This did not not seem to work. Peerless has assured that in tests they were able to successfully go analog in to HDMI out to a 1080p panel.  Of course, you can broadcast from one analog source to an older display with analog or composite connections.








FINAL THOUGHTS



I have very mixed feelings towards the HD FLOW device.  For its intent on broadcasting HD content across the home to a second display, it works beautifully as long as you don't exceed the 130' range.  The biggest concern I have is the $400 pricetag and at that cost, what actual use the average consumer would need it for.   Back in the day when technology was far more expensive and as a result most households only had one VCR, I could see the need for a wireless device like this.  But back then, those devices only cost $50 and everything was analog. I really spent some time thinking of ways this device could prove to be beneficial to the average consumer.  One immediate thought was that I could hold an outdoor theater party and be able to broadcast the entertainment from the equipment rack to projector.  


Today, with everything being digital, I can see the HD FLOW as being a great solution to sharing one device among multiple displays.  You can plug in several devices from your equipment rack and operate them on a television in another room without running any wires. However, some consumers may feet that at the $400 price point it would be just as cost effective to buy a second Blu-ray player or xBox instead.   And, with each additional receiver costing $265, the value in sharing that signal with more than one display becomes less attractive.


 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 7 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted March 03 2011 - 03:33 AM

Thanks for the review Ron.  I suppose another application could be for someone who has a wall mounted TV who ran all the wiring in the wall prior to HDMI who now wants or needs HDMI.  The costs of buying a long, high quality HDMI cable for in-wall use, combined with paying someone to run it and doing drywall repair could be well over $400.


It is able to broadcast more than one source at a time?  Assuming I had an extra receiver, could I be transmitting my DVD player to room 1 and my XBOX to room 2, or does it only send out one source at a time up to 4 receivers?



#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 03 2011 - 04:00 AM

Adam,


You can plug more than one device into the transmitter.
It seems to be a safe guess that when using an additional

receiver, it is picking up the same signal.  Thus, anything

that is plugged into the one transmitter will be available

through each receiver unit.  The remote control allows you

to select HDMI 1, HDMI 2, and component inputs.


 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

 Click Here for the latest/hottest Blu-ray Preorders  Click Here for our complete Blu-ray review archive

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#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Steve Petrosino

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Posted March 24 2011 - 04:13 PM

Ron,

Sorry, life has kept me from spending much time at the forum.
Interesting new piece of gear.  It seems that we are in the era of wireless communication for everything.
Years ago (~1980?) Radio Shack/Tandy marketed an analog Power Line Carrier (PLC) speaker system.  The system suffered from noise problems and did not provide a full 20-20K frequency response and junky speakers, basically, a joke.  The technology just was not available at that time.  A digital signal solves those problems.  Now Digital to analog and analog to digital converters are common.  I am surprised that no one has marketed a HT audio via PLC solution (as well as HDMI).
The source end converts all audio channels to digital which includes a volume component and channel-ID and sends it all through the power cord. A bunch of decoder boxes plug into any AC outlet and supplies the signal for one channel according to a dip switch to supply a single-channel amp.  This would nearly eliminate the old question of who makes the best speaker wire since you would only need a few inches.  I would love to see a Bryston PowerPac 120 with a decoder like this built in and bolted to the back of my M&K S-150s (look ma, no speaker wires at all).  Multiple speakers per channel would just be plug-n-play. This would require a filter to block the signal from exiting from the main breaker box (no sharing with the neighbors) as well as a bridge that would pass the digital signal between both 120v busses so that all outlets could be used. There are so many really inexpensive CD players available which tells me that D/A converters must be mere pennies each.  The same technology should work for an HDMI signal. A PLC kit should be able to go to market for less than the HD Flow.  Except that you would need an electrician to install the bridge and filters in the breaker box (I would do it myself).
Forget that 130' limit.  Do you know a company that might look into a product like this?  If you do, ask them to be nice and send me a 7.2 kit plus four extra decoders.

If a company can distribute movies through a power company's lines, I don't see why this would not work well.  Just a thought.



#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted March 24 2011 - 05:55 PM

Steve-

You can already do that without the wires.  Radiient showed a wireless 7.1 system prototype to HTF a few years ago:

http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


The Radiient Early Adapter Kit featuring THX Roomcaster is the first consumer product based on Radiient’s breakthrough THX Roomcaster wireless surround-sound technology. The system consists of a set of adapters -- an audio source adapter and a set of six speaker “backpack” adapters – that can make any brand of audio or home-theater equipment wireless. Simply attach the source adapter to any source device -- such as an iPod®, DVD/Blu-ray player, laptop or AV receiver – and begin streaming content wirelessly to your powered speakers

It would be easy enough to wire them up to 1 channel amps mounted onto the back of the speaker.  http://www.radiient....ex.php/features




#6 of 7 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted April 01 2011 - 01:45 AM

Interesting gear.


But yeah, doesn't seem all that cost effective for most of us.


Originally Posted by Adam Gregorich 

Steve-

You can already do that without the wires.  Radiient showed a wireless 7.1 system prototype to HTF a few years ago:




It would be easy enough to wire them up to 1 channel amps mounted onto the back of the speaker.  http://www.radiient....ex.php/features



Hmmm...  How is the fidelity on this?  What's the price?  Probably also not very cost effective me thinks...


_Man_



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#7 of 7 OFFLINE   bblenkin

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Posted November 29 2011 - 03:22 AM

Ron, First let me say thank you for spending so much of your time investigating the HD Flow device. I'm looking for a device that will allow me to connect our HD cable box (Time Warner) to our TV - without wires. I've tried contacting Peerless but have been somewhat frustrated by their inability to answer emails and voicemails. Not a good sign. From your research, will the device connect to an HD cable box? I'm very much a novice when it comes to AV technology and would appreciate your thoughts. Regards, Bryan