The relationship between TV and PC is a complicated one. Over the years, we've used desktops, laptops, and small form factor machines to act as media centers, networked entertainment hubs, and more recently, as Hulu and streaming-Netflix players.
Our love/hate relationship with getting a PC signal on a large TV screen has recently moved toward ambivalence, as living room game consoles have taken over many streaming media tasks, adding Netflix streaming as well as their own libraries of movies and TV shows to buy or rent.
To that end, one of the CES announcements we were most excited about, at least in theory, was Intel's Wireless Display technology. This combination of hardware and software would allow you to wirelessly stream whatever was on your laptop display to a nearby plasma or LCD TV.
Having seen a few demos of varying effectiveness (which didn't stop the technology from winning CNET's People's Voice award at CES 2010), we were excited to be able to hook up a Wireless Display (or WiDi, as it is also known) setup in the CNET Labs to test it out.
While the underlying technology is part of Intel's 2010 Core series platform, to start it'll be available only in three specific laptops, one each from Dell, Sony, and Toshiba. All three are Best Buy exclusives, but they also, fortunately, come bundled with all the hardware you'll need to hook the WiDi up.
That means these three laptops are WiDi-certified, and each comes bundled with an adapter from Netgear somewhat awkwardly named Push2TV. When and if the WiDi technology gets rolled out on more laptops, the Netgear box will be available separately for $99.
Though there are other ways to wirelessly stream audio and video to your big-screen TV, the possibility of effortlessly mirroring whatever is on your desktops to another display, with near-zero setup, makes this a much better candidate for mainstream adoption.
With a new Toshiba E205 laptop (one of the three initial WiDi models) in hand, and the included Netgear adapter, we set out to test Intel's Wireless Display. In practice, the actual results were not completely effortless, but they came pretty close. … Read more