Life as a photographer or videographer means cords — lots and lots of cords. Personally, I hate them, mostly because I'm a klutz and will invariably wrap myself in them and take down the entire set in one fell swoop. I've done my best to minimize wires in my life, but one area that's remained stubbornly dependent on physical connections is broadcasting anything on my television. The Nyrius Aries Pro seeks to change that with its 1080p wireless HDMI system, and the results are quite good.
I've had an Apple TV for a few years, and while it's great for streaming movies, one area that's always been a bit frustrating is display mirroring. I'll often want to throw a photo slideshow on my TV for friends or put on my favorite baseball highlights playlist on YouTube, and unfortunately, the lag and stuttering picture make it more trouble than it's worth. At the same time, I don't particularly care to run a 40-foot HDMI cable across my apartment.
This is where the Nyrius Aries Pro comes into play. Designed specifically for wireless audio/video transmission, it's an intriguing device with a multitude of possible uses: besides simply playing video on a TV, imagine editing together a quick slide show on a wedding day before the reception and having it broadcasting to TVs in the venue's lobby as guests come in. If you're on a video shoot, you can easily transmit output to a remote monitor or TV for the client. The slickness of the wireless broadcast alone gives it a very professional feel.
- Supported resolution: 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 480p
- 3D compatible: Yes
- Audio formats: Uncompressed 7.1 PCM, DTS, Dolby Digital Surround Sound
- Wireless range: 100 feet (line of sight)
- Frequency range: 4.9-5.9 GHz with Dynamic Frequency Selecting
- Bandwidth: 40 MHz on 1 RX and 1 TX channel
- Latency: 1 ms or less
- Connection: HDMI (powered via USB and power adapter)
- Wall mountable: Yes
- Transmitter dimensions: 3.4 x 1.3 inches
- Receiver dimensions: 3.7 x 3.8 x 1.1 inches
- Warranty: One year
As you can see, the key points are being able to send a full 1080p signal with near-zero latency at a range that should be sufficient for most indoor applications. To do this, it has a fairly wide bandwidth (the same as an 802.11n signal). The downside is that this opens the system to an increased probability of interference, but this is why it comes with dynamic frequency selection. In practice, this wasn't really an issue.
Setup is about as straightforward as can be: you connect the receiver box to the power adapter and HDMI cable, then plug them in. Then, you insert the transmitter into the HDMI port of your desktop or laptop and connect the USB cable to an available port. The USB cable is necessary to power the transmitter. If you decide to connect the cable to a hub, be sure the hub puts out proper power to whatever port the transmitter USB cable is connected to, as it requires 5 V at 1.0 A. Because the transmitter is a bit bulky (though not heavy), Nyrius includes a right-angle adapter that can help prevent it from blocking adjacent ports. Once you've got both devices connected and powered on, they start looking for each other with no additional input. After that, all you need to do is select the correct input on your television and ensure that your computer is set to mirror its display (unless you want to use your TV as an extended display). It's simple and quick, and in practice, I had no issues. I definitely recommend using the right-angle adapter when using a laptop. The transmitter is thick enough that it'll likely push the laptop up off whatever surface it's on, putting major stress on the port.
Video and Audio Quality and Reliability
I live in a century-old brick apartment building with thick walls, the sort that eat cellular and Wi-Fi signals for breakfast. My first test was transmitting from my office to my television, which is about 20 feet through a single wall. Transmission was flawless, with no visible artifacts. Equally importantly, there was no perceptible latency; I hate it when mouse movements are delayed, as it makes it hard for me to work and throws my brain into a fit. Using the Aries Pro felt like I was using a normal monitor in this scenario. Audio quality was also very good, with no dropouts or audible artifacts. When my computer went to sleep, the system had no problem jumping back into action as soon as I turned it back on.
For the next test, I took my laptop into the storage area and about 60 feet down the hallway. This meant the signal now had to cover that distance, plus travel through two walls and a brick fireplace. Again, the signal was strong and clear. Minor artifacts were occasionally visible (of the level that only discerning pros would even notice), likely due to the fact that it was also competing for bandwidth with the numerous Wi-Fi signals from neighbors and nearby buildings as well as dealing with the increased distance. What's important is that the system kept a reliable signal and worked consistently without user intervention. This is the sort of performance you would want on a shoot when you're sending video to a client monitor in another room and don't want to look unprofessional by constantly having to adjust fickle equipment. The kit is also portable enough that you can toss it in your laptop bag and take it on location easily, whether that's a shoot or simply watching movies at a friend's house.
One to note is that if you're using this on set, you'll need some sort of USB power supply for the transmitter. This isn't a fault of the device; HDMI doesn't carry anywhere near enough power to supply such wireless transmission. So, be prepared to use a little gaffer tape to put a battery on your tripod or the like. It's not a big deal in practice.
What I Liked
- As straightforward a setup as possible
- No perceptible latency
- Excellent video and audio quality
- Great range
What I Didn't Like
- Transmitter can be a smidgen bulky and block ports if they're tightly clustered on your machine, though the right angle adapter helps with this
At $249, I think it's well worth the price, as its convenience (both at home and on location), quality, and reliability all add up to an excellent user experience. You can purchase the Nyrius Aries Pro here.