Send HD Video from PC to TV, Projector with StarTech HDMI Extender
StarTech.com's $210 IPUSB2HD2 HDMI-over-IP extender device connects to HDTVs and projectors so they can stream audio and video from nearby computers.
By Paul Mah, CIO
The StarTech.com HDMI-over-IP Extender with Audio (IPUSB2HD2) lets users send audio and HD video from an Internet-connected PC to a remote location. The gadget supports video resolution up to 1080p (1920×1080) when connected via its HDMI port, and the the device also comes with two USB ports that serve as virtual extensions for the host PCs.
The IPUSB2HD2 device can be installed in two ways: 1) By plugging it directly into a PC using a USB cable and then allowing Windows to automatically detect the device and install the drivers; or 2) By using the software drivers included on a CD-ROM disk. I chose the latter route, which prompted me for a restart after installing the necessary software drivers.
The installed client software called “USB Server” automatically launched after the restart, and it detected the IPUSB2HD2 on my local area network (LAN) where it was connected to my 40-inch LED HDTV. I was able to create a new virtual display within Windows, which was mapped directly to my HDTV, by selecting the “Display” option and then clicking on “Connect Device” within the USB Server application. I did the same for audio by choosing the “Media Device” option and “Connect Device,” and I could then stream a multimedia presentation to my TV.
The device driver for the StarTech IPUSB2HD2 essentially installs a virtual soundcard and virtual video card on your PC, and then streams data over your network to the remote hardware. And the IPUSB2HD2 devices utilizes trusted technology from DisplayLink for streaming.
My Experience with StarTech IPUSB2HD2
In my tests, the IPUSB2HD2 displayed my desktop on my HDTV at its maximum resolution of 1920×1080. However, video playback was choppy at that resolution, and I noticed a slight lag when performing major screen refreshes. Setting the resolution to a more modest 1366×768 resulted in a seamless experience even when playing full screen video. This isn’t really a major issue, since 1366×768 is more than adequate for most high-definition projectors out there.
Of particular interest were the two USB ports on the IPUSB2HD2. A virtual USB function in the USB Server application causes USB peripherals connected to the IPUSB2HD2 to be treated as if they were physically connected to the PC. This is far more useful than it sounds; I was able to work with a USB keyboard and mouse on my HDTV in the living room, even though my laptop was in another room.
I do have a couple of minor compliants. For one, the package doesn’t come with any HDMI cable or USB cable, so you need to get those seperately. And though the interface for the client software was functional, I didn’t see any way to easily rename the device, which means deployming multiple devices could be confusing and time consuming.
The StarTech IPUSB2HD2 HDMI over IP Extender is rather pricey at $209.99, and its inability to stream full 1080p video smoothly means that it really isn’t suitable for very high quality video streaming. At lower resolutions, however, the device is great for working with a large screen TV or high-definition projector, and it eliminates the need for wires. The IPUSB2HD2 is probably best suited for boardrooms and meeting rooms.
Display and media device (sound) are separately mapped to the IPUSB2HD2 device. Notice the storage device and Logitech input device.
The back panel of the StarTech IPUSB2HD2. Note the Logitech Unifying receiver and Verbatim USB Flash Memory connected to the two USB port. Power button is on the right, and a USB port for connecting to PCs is in the middle.
The back panel of the StarTech IPUSB2HD2. From left to right: DC input, LAN port, speaker output, microphone input, and HDMI port.