Ever wished that you could stop tangling with HDMI cables but still connect your devices wirelessly to your plasma screen? With the Netgear Push2TV PTV3000, now you can!
Hardware and design
The third generation of Netgear’s Push2TV offerings, the PTV3000 is Netgear’s latest Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) 3.5 receiver and also the first Push2TV device to pack Miracast capabilities. Externally, the PTV3000 looks much sleeker and smaller than its previous generation, sporting a design similar to an elongated Apple TV. It appears that Netgear has decided that “less is more” with this new design, with only a single white LED on the front of the device indicating the device’s power status while having the Push2TV’s only button hidden on the side of the device.
On the back, a HDMI and USB mini port (for power, adapter included) takes up each side of the device while a tiny pinhole hidden near the edge of the device allows for a quick hard reset of the PTV3000 without pulling the power.
Miracast and WiDi
For those of you who are wondering what is Miracast and WiDi, here’s a short explanation: Miracast is an open standard created by the Wi-Fi Alliance as an wireless screencast standard allowing for secure wireless delivery of HDMI signals from a source device to a Miracast enabled receiver or display. Similar to Miracast, Intel’s WiDi is also a wireless screencast standard with the exception that it is proprietary to Intel and its source devices are Intel-based devices with specific hardware configurations.
Display and audio quality
Sadly, HDMI cables are still leading the way on transmitting audio and visual output on to any other display – no matter which devices we tried, there was a noticeable 1-2 seconds of lag between the device’s screens and the PTV3000’s output. As for audio and display quality, we have split up the tests into two separate components, with mobile devices (Using Miracast) in the first test and Intel laptops and desktops (Using Intel WiDi) in the latter. The PTV 3000 also has a significant lack in range and thus relies on the source device’s Wi-Fi range capabilities, a fatal flaw which you will be reading about throughout the next few tests we conduct.
Our test with mobile devices wasn’t anything spectacular due to the fact that mobile device’s Wi-Fi chips tend to be limited in bandwidth and range. During our tests, there was a noticeable loss of audio and display quality in rapid-changing visuals when connected to any mobile device (E.g videos, games, etc) at close range (Within 20cm of the PTV3000). As for those who were wondering if they could use their smartphones comfortably on their couch while streaming it to their TV, my answer is no – as I moved the source device further away from the PTV3000, audio and display quality continued to deteriorate and by the time I was on the couch (Approximately 2.3m from the PTV3000), the connection had been deteriorated to such an extent the PTV3000’s output was experiencing the occasional stutter. Don’t bother to stream your Youtube videos to the PTV3000 either – as the device relies on Wi-Fi to stream the display, sharing the mobile device’s Wi-Fi bandwidth with Youtube or any other video service turns the PTV3000’s output into a “stutterfest”, with the output stuttering and skipping continuously, rendering the TV completely unwatchable.
Moving on to a more powerful source device, the desktop and laptops definitely fared better, with much better display and audio quality, perhaps with Intel’s more mature WiDi technology and certainly with the much more powerful Wi-Fi chips of a full-fledged computer. Sadly though, there was still a noticeable drop in audio and display quality when streaming from the other end of the room while online streaming still cannot escape the horrors of the unavoidable stutter every now and then. There was one major flaw though – WiDi requires rather specialized hardware setups, of which most computers out there do not meet the requirements (More on that after the jump).
The PTV3000’s own user interface is rather easy to understand, with instructions on how to connect to the PTV3000 was displayed while it booted up and a simple “ready to connect” screen being shown once the devices completes booting and is waiting for a connection. Personally, I would have preferred that the instructions to connect could stay on the screen with an additional “ready to connect” line perhaps at the bottom of the instructions.
One thing to take note of however, would be the user interface of the source devices – almost every device has their own user interfaces, some of which “bury” the options to connect deep inside the submenus of an almost unrelated option, possibly confusing users.
The PTV3000 is still mostly incompatible with almost all devices out there, with Miracast and WiDi mainly still unavailable in most devices out there.
In order to use Miracast, one needs to either use a mobile device with Android 4.3 and above (Android 4.3 is only available to updated Google Nexus device and selected versions of the Samsung Galaxy S IV or HTC One) or Windows 8.1 (Windows 8.1 is still currently unavailable worldwide).
As for Intel’s WiDi, one needs to use the IGP in Intel Sandy Bridge Core i3/i5/i7 processor (Sorry, AMD users) or later in conjunction with selected Intel or Broadcom wireless adapters, hence a large majority of computers don’t support Intel WiDi.
The PTV3000 is certainly a decent performing product, if the conditions are right. For now, being packed with immature technologies and a dodgy WiFi antenna, the NetGear Push2TV PTV3000 is still a proof-of-concept at best and should only be used in situations where snaking HDMI cables is an absolute no-no. As for those who can still make do with the HDMI cables or prioritize quality over cable clutter, it’s best to wait for the wireless technologies to mature further and gain widespread adoption before putting their cash down on a wireless HDMI receiver.
The NetGear Push2TV PTV3000 is now available for US$57 on Amazon or SGD$129 at Harvey Norman.