We don’t think there is one listener/reader out there who has not wanted to connect their computer to their TV. In the traditional sense a computer connected to your TV is commonly referred to as a Home Theater PC or HTPC. This requires you to dedicate a computer connected to the TV or at least use a Media Extender device like an Xbox 360. On today’s show we look at a device that is part Media Extender and part HDMI extension cord. We are talking about the McTiVia ($230 with shipping) and it works with both Windows and Macs.
The McTiVia is a small device measuring 5.1” x 2.6” x .9” (130mm x 65.3mm x 22mm) which will wirelessly mirror content from your computer to your HDTV. It allows you view anything that you would normally view on your PC on your TV and all with full audio support. You have to install a remote desktop app that provides full control of your desktop via an external keyboard and mouse or by using the computer itself. In our tests we used a laptop with remote access to the mirrored computer and we used an iPhone mouse/keyboard app.
The MacTiVia also works as a home wireless access point and the software allows you to control up to 8 computers when a keyboard and mouse are attached.
There are three options for setup describe in the user’s manual. Wired Ethernet, Powerline Ethernet, and all Wifi. As expected the wired Ethernet is the one with the highest performance and that is the option we chose. You simply connect the device to power, your network, and your TV via HDMI and the physical setup is complete. There are no cables included with the device. You can optionally connect a USB keyboard and mouse if you want local control of your computer.
The second portion of setup requires installing an application on the PC that you want to project onto your TV. The installation requires an activation key or you are greeted with a nag message every few minutes. You can use up to 8 PC or Macs so that should be plenty for almost everyone. Once the software is installed you are ready to project to computer’s desktop to the device.
To use the device you launch the application and then select the McTiVia device from a dialog box. You can select the option for desktop size, quality, and responsiveness. Since we were running on a wired network we chose the largest size, highest quality, and most responsive.
There was little lag in using the mouse and the picture quality was just OK. Definitely not as good as a Media Extender like the Xbox 360. The biggest disappointment however, was the audio. Even though the device was using HDMI connected to a AV receiver the best we could get out of it was two channel audio. Not very good for a $230 device.
Overall, the McTiVia left us disappointed for use as a remote Media Extender for quality audio and video. But we did find that for surfing the web, watching Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube it worked quite well. At $230 it is a bit expensive for what it does.
Posted by The HT Guys, February 10, 2011 11:19 PM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.