Media streamers and internet connected TVs have provided consumers with some very capable ways in which to watch digital media and online video on the big screen, but it’s surprising not to have seen a capable, generic solution to simply send audio and video and from a computer to such a device.
Q-waves is the latest to have a stab at this elusive market with the Quicklink HD, a wireless USB device that claims to handle 1080p resolutions and 5.1 audio. It’s comprised of a host dongle to attach to a computer and a USB dock and associated destination dongle that offers HDMI and digital optical connectivity.
Installation and setup involves installing the supplied wireless USB drivers and connecting the various components, after which QuickLink’s proprietary USB manager and Displaylink software appears on the system tray. If all goes well (it did for us during setup) you should be able to simply switch your TV to the appropriate HDMI source connection and see your desktop in its full glory.
Typical display adjustment is available through the QuickLink software, including desktop mirror, extend, screen rotation and the ability to set the TV as the main display and adjust things from there. The process wasn’t without its problems however, and though the issues we encountered won’t apply to everyone, they did cause frustration. Those whose monitors offer a higher resolution than their TV will find the computer’s screen switch to the appropriate lower resolution automatically, so if you have a 720p screen you may have to cope with less real estate on a laptop or desktop. Additionally we had some reconnection issues when removing the USB dock from one TV and trying it on another, which seems to require a restart before it picks up the new device.
None of this would really be relevant if the QuickLink doesn’t perform however, and we have mixed feelings on this front. We should identify here that Q-waves openly admits that wireless USB technology is intended for use with “line of sight” connections, and ideally no further apart than 3 meters, though it does claim up to 6 meters at a push. This is really for porting audio and video between two devices situated in the same room then, and in this optimum environment we had some success. With our test kit less than 3 meters away we noted good streaming of both online and offline video at standard definition resolutions, but it did begin to stutter when we tested 720p content and above. The same goes for games, and though we had some success by dropping resolutions down to 1280 x 720 pixels there was increased stutter here even at these resolutions, so while, for example, strategy based titles were more playable, free-flowing FPS’ don’t offer the smooth performance necessary to enjoy the experience.
On the audio front it performs very well and there was no such lag when it came to maintaining a clean and accurate stream, so those looking to send a music collection stored on a notebook to a TV and surround sound setup will have some success.
We also tested the QuickLink through a plasterboard wall to another room at a distance of about 4 meters, and while the devices did connect properly, performance was further diminished and even standard definition resolution started to suffer. We can confirm then, that to get some joy from the Quicklink HD you really do need line of sight.
Even in an optimum environment we’re still struggling to envision a sufficient market for this device, and if streaming standard definition video across a room is the main aim then a wireless media streamer will do a far better job. It’s still possible to watch online video from sites such as YouTube, and of course there are business applications in terms of controlling a slideshow wirelessly across a room, for example, but compared to the negligible effort of setting up a wired connection in such an environment we’re not sure whether this device justifies the price.
The Quicklink HD is one of the better wireless AV streamers around, but with such meagre efforts from the competition so far, that’s not saying much. We also think its claims of offering 1080p streaming are wide of the mark, and with gaming proving a frustrating experience overall we can’t think of that many applications that will prove useful enough to pay this much for.