AirLive is a brand from OvisLink Corporation, a Taiwan based corporation with a broad variety of networking products. We decided to take a look at their AirVideo-2000. This product will take on the cable mess you usually find in conference or presentation rooms.
The interesting idea behind AirVideo 2000 is to make your VGA cable go wireless. According to manufacturer, this product should be fast enough to make Video Streaming [with audio] possible. So now you can mount your beamer on the ceiling, mount the AirVideo-2000 next to it, power them up and don't have to worry about cables ruining the clean and tidy look of your conference room. This is something we've been waiting for, but let's take a close look at the product and its features:
The Packaging is well done. Not too much plastic, but a cardboard box and cardboard cushion material.
Only the AirVideo-2000 itself is sealed inside an extra plastic foil. We welcome the abandonment of Styrofoam and other environmentally-polluting materials. Our "Drop & Kick" Test went well, no damage other than a little bump on the cardboard box. Thus we have no worries that the presenter is in good shape even if someone in the supply chain to the sales point of your trust has dropped it.
In case you don't know, how our "Drop & Kick" Test works, here's the info. We simply drop it from about waist level and give it a little kick that could happen when it falls on the floor and you step forward to pick it up, but accidentally hit it and kick it a bit. It is a mandatory test for all hardware reviewed in Bright Labs, as disclosed in our methodology.
Now let's have a look at the setup.
In the picture above, you can see the piece of metal that will allow you to mount your Video Presenter to either the ceiling or maybe under your table, but at first sight, you'll wonder where you should put the screws. The four rubber feet at the bottom can be removed and you'll find the holes for your perfectly matching wall mount set right there. In this reviewer's opinion, I think that this is a great trick - if you don't need a wall-mount, you'll never see it. If you need it, you just remove the rubber feet and there you go.
Even though AirLive delivers a CD with the presenter, you don't really need it. The Presenter itself has embedded flash memory that holds the driver and necessary software in order to make this device work. All you need is a beamer or remote display that you can use.
Well, that’s the theory. Actually, what you need to know that AirVideo-2000 has "airlive" as a default password - not the empty password mentioned in the manual. It required us to get in touch with AirLive to get the device working at all. There’s quite a discrepancy between the Manual (printed or PDF available online) and the real deal. Screens look different and although it had been translated well, the product differs from what is described in the manual.
The Website does have support for the product available on the official pages and you can find a firmware update as well. Interestingly though, the driver download is a .zip file while the firmware is packed using RAR. We find it odd that a manufacturer would use two different formats, without linking to RAR supporting utility since ZIP is supported inside Windows OS by default. In any case, you can rely on our Top 30 Free Windows Applications guide to get a free RAR app. Forgetting the password SNAFU, the documentation is great. Pictures on the box tell you what you can expect, the printed manual comes in nine languages.
If you're a tech savvy person, the installation might even pass without reading the manual at all. In case you can't get connected properly right away, the website will also provide you with the executable installer for your system. We recommend updating to the latest Firmware – before our test, we upgraded the device to version 188.8.131.52.
You can check FAQ and contact the support team which responds fairly quick through the e-mail address provided on the official site. The AirVideo-2000 unfortunately only supports Windows operating systems - we hope that in the future, the company would work on supporting Mac OSX and Google Android.
Configuring the projector could not be easier...
Once you have the driver installed, it's very easy to use the AirVideo-2000. Simply connect to it via WLAN. The AirVideo does provide DHCP so you'll get your IP and the beamer will show you a random generated four pin code that you need to connect to the display. You can even set secure wireless connection via the webinterface found at the presenters IP (in our case 192.168.1.1).
If you have a DSL or Cable Router already running, you need to configure the AirVideo-2000 and disable its DHCP so your network doesn’t get mixed up. And while you configure it, disconnect from your standard router because that one is very likely to use the 192.168.1.x subnet as well. Our suggestion to AirLive is: Please make the default subnet: 192.168.100.x. That should reduce problems of double DHCPs significantly.
Performance is ok. The AirVideo-2000 has video streaming as one of its big features. Well, it does work, but only if you play a DVD. For some reason, CPU intensive codecs [x264 or others] will not work smoothly. If you want to make presentations with the AirVideo, you’ll be doing just fine unless you have too many embedded videos, but that’ll crack Microsoft PowerPoint in many cases anyway. Also, your presentations are limited to a maximum resolution of 1280x1024. This is ok for business presentations but it's nothing for home entertainment.
Checking the web for prices, we saw prices ranging around 180 Euro mark, e.g. 220 USD. We feel that it doesn't cost a lot for the professional use, but some of the issues we experienced should be fixed in the next version if AirLive wants to get a passing grade. If you have a choice between spending this money or at least 20m or so of VGA cable to have a neat conference room, AirLive's product definitely provides good value for buck.
If you're going to handle the equipment of a conference room where you want to get rid of all those cables running here and there, you will like this product. But if you plan to get it for home purpose, to have videos streamed to your beamer and don’t always watch native MPEG-2 videos, you won’t find it very valuable because it's likely it will not be a smooth presentation.
Overall, our suggestion to AirLive is to correct the issues with the product and release a second generation part with improved video performance. With the arrival of Office 2010 next year, multimedia usage is going to be increased in every presentation.