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Air HD: Brite View Wireless HD Video Kit

AirHD Do you want to get HD cable channels on a second TV but don't want to pay monthly rental charges for a second HD box? Or, do you want to put an HDTV in a spot where you don't have a cable connection? Up until now, you didn't have many choices. You could spend $1000 for a device to send the HD signal wirelessly to the TV, or you would have to run wires to a place that was not easily accessible, and rent a second box.

Now there is a cheaper, hassle-free alternative: the Air HD from Brite View. [Consumer World was provided with a review unit by the company.] Picture it as an invisible wire between your primary cable TV box and the TV you want to send an HD picture to. Once connected, it will magically send the picture from the station your cable box is tuned to over the air to a distant TV. The system has two pieces: an HD signal transmitter and an HD signal receiver. You connect the transmitter to your cable box so you can send the cable signal over the air to an HDTV in a remote location. Then, you attach the receiver to the television in that remote location via the provided HDMI cable.

For example, let's say you have a TV mounted over the fireplace, but there is no cable connection there. Use the Air HD, and your problem is solved. The TV signal is sent over the air from the transmitter connected to the cable box to the receiver connected to the TV over the fireplace. In fact, you can connect up to four devices to the transmitter via either HDMI or component cables. So in addition to your cable box, you might also connect your DVD player to the transmitter so movies could be viewed on the TV over the fireplace. A provided remote control lets you switch what you are seeing on the TV, from the cable signal to the DVD signal, for example.

set up

Setting up the device is simple, as noted above. It just works without a lot of tinkering. Just make sure the transmitter and the receiver are set to the same number (if you plugged the cable box into HDMI input "1" on the transmitter, select "1" on the receiver to watch TV).

The provided remote will only operate the input selector (to choose what signal is sent to the TV -- the cable signal or the DVD signal, for example), but it will not operate the cable box or the DVD player itself. So imagine you have set up a second HDTV in the kitchen where there was no cable outlet. If you want to change the channel, that can only be done via the cable box, but that is in the other room. So how in the world do you change the channel being fed to the kitchen TV? You attach a small infrared "eye" (sensor) near the kitchen TV that will transmit a signal from a second cable box remote control (that you will have to obtain) that you use in the kitchen. That signal is transmitted to the cable box in the living room via another provided wire you connect in the living room. (It sounds more complicated than it is.)

The picture you receive at the remote TV is virtually as good as if it were connected directly to the cable box. And, there is no delay or lag in transmission. The picture will be up to 1080i, not 1080p, however. The living room TV and the kitchen TV both will show the same picture at the same time. (And that too is a downside: you can't watch one program in the living room and a different one in the kitchen.) The sound is better if you attach the transmitter to the cable box with an HDMI cable, but is quite acceptable if you use component cables.

All is not rosy with the Air HD, however. The remote TV cannot be too far away from the transmitter. You may be able to place the remote TV in an adjacent room, but depending on the configuration of your house or apartment, maybe not much beyond that. For example, in my tests, the receiver could not pick up the HD signal from the living room transmitter when the receiver was two rooms away (and had to pass-through kitchen walls). This is a significant limitation of this unit. In another case, however, it was able to send the signal to the floor below in the family room.

When changing channels, on occasion, the receiver loses the TV signal. It will self-correct in a few seconds, but having the picture go out is annoying.

Another nuisance is that the transmitter does not have a pass through for the HDMI cable. In other words, if you are connecting the transmitter near your main TV, you cannot run the HDMI cable from the cable box into the transmitter and then out to that TV.

If your placement of the TV or second TV is relatively close to your cable box, the Air HD may be the solution you have been hoping for. It is only sold at Amazon or from the company directly for about $279.99.

June 7, 2010

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Consumer World®, launched in 1995, is a public service, non-commercial consumer resource guide with over 2000 links to everything "consumer" on the Internet. Edgar Dworsky, an avid bargain hunter, is the founder of Consumer World, editor of MousePrint.org – an educational site devoted to exposing the fine print loopholes in advertising, and a former Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.



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