If you’re considering mounting your television on a wall, but are put off by the prospect of unsightly cabling, or your need for order makes your current tangle of A/V electronic spaghetti induce anxiety, Belkin’s ScreenCast AV 4 may provide the solution.
Essentially a wireless transmitter-and-receiver combination, Belkin’s ScreenCast AV 4 allows you to connect up to four HDMI devices to the transmitter — which can be placed out of sight — while your TV, and if necessary an antenna cable, are connected to the receiver.
Belkin claims there’s a range of 30m between transmitter and receiver, meaning it’s also possible to keep your gaming consoles, Blu-ray players and other accessories in a cupboard, or even in another room — though that may not be practical when it comes to consoles.
The transmitter and receiver communicate using the 5GHz radio frequency band and a proprietary wireless specification designed to handle HD signals so that the quality matches that of a wired connection. The device also supports 3D content, whether video or gaming.
In addition to the four HDMI ports on the transmitter, there’s also a USB port in order to allow for future firmware updates. The transmitter and receiver are paired when they leave the factory, so there’s no need to synchronise them during installation.
On the whole, the setup process is painless. The only potential nuisance comes in the form of the miniature, street lamp-like infrared emitters that are needed if you want to use remote controls with devices that are out of sight. In keeping with the theme of connecting four devices, Belkin supplies four of these IR emitters that connect to the transmitter.
The emitters make it possible to control devices by pointing their corresponding remote controls at the receiver unit. In order to achieve this, the emitters need to be lined up with the IR receiver on the respective devices. Getting this right can take a bit of experimentation, and keeping the IR emitters in place is best done with a sliver of electrical tape or similar.
Otherwise, setup really is a matter of plugging everything in and turning on the transmitter and receiver. The receiver connects to the TV using a single HDMI cable, and it’s this source that needs to be selected in order to control the devices connected to the ScreenCast AV 4.
The supplied remote — which is about the size of a credit card and only has three buttons, namely “up”, “down” and “ok” — is then used to move between the various sources to which the ScreenCast AV 4 is tethered. The remote is also used during setup to name each source should you choose to.
We didn’t notice any discernible degradation in image quality or lag when compared to using wired connections, and even taking a call on a mobile phone while right next to the receiver didn’t introduce any interference.
The overarching problem with the Belkin ScreenCast AV 4 is that when all is said and done, it doesn’t actually reduce the amount of cabling needed — in fact, it increases it. All it really does is allow you to relocate the chaos. Moreover, it means another remote control for the coffee table, one that if lost renders the system extremely difficult to adjust.
So, is Belkin’s ScreenCast AV 4 worth R2 999? That depends on your needs. If you want to be able to control HD devices in other rooms or you’re pedantic about neatness, perhaps. Here at TechCentral, though, we’ll probably stick to cable ties. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media