One of Sony's latest strategies with HDTVs is to market a range of add-ons, such as the Bravia Internet Video Link, designed to work with its Bravia televisions. The most expensive such device so far is the DMX-WL1, otherwise known as the Bravia Wireless Link Module. But unlike the BIVL, the Wireless Link works not only with late-model Bravias, but also with any HDTV that has an HDMI input. In fact, along with the Gefen EXT-WHDMI, it's one of the first such wireless HDMI devices available to consumers.
The main target of wireless HDMI is people with custom installations, like wall-mounted flat-panel HDTVs and ceiling-mounted projectors, who want to get video from the components (Blu-ray player snd cable box, for instance) to the display device without having to run lengths of cable through the walls. Both the Sony and the Gefen succeed to a large extent on this front, although a few important distinctions exist between the two similarly priced--and extremely expensive--systems. We found the Gefen's transmissions more robust in general and appreciated its ability to transmit 1080p/24 video, and while the Sony had slightly better overall video quality, both delivered nearly as good a picture as a standard HDMI cable. For well-heeled buyers with lots of equipment and an installation that won't tax the Sony's transmissions, its robust feature set and IR blaster control make it a compelling option.
One important note: With these kinds of systems more than usual, we recommend buying from a vendor that offers a solid return policy in case it doesn't work in your installation.
Sony's system is comprised of a transmitter and a receiver, along with a remote and host of brackets, IR blasters, and other accessories. The larger of the two units, the transmitter, measures a medium-size 4.8 inches wide by 9.1 inches high by 9 inches deep when set horizontally. You can choose a vertical orientation thanks to the included stand. The transmitter includes a series of indicators on the front panel along with a blue accent light that illuminates the glossy front panel when the box is active. One design-oriented touch is the lack of an external antenna, which streamlines the unit but may contribute to its less-than-perfect transmission performance (see below).
The other major component, the receiver, is a low-profile, rounded, black box with just a small power switch on the front side. It measures just 7.5 inches wide by 1.4 inches high by 5.5 inches deep and can stand on its own horizontally. If you happen to own a late-model Sony Bravia TV with screw holes in the right places, you can hang it from the back of the TV set.
Sony gets big points for the included remote control. It not only operates the wireless link itself, it makes switching among input sources--a big weakness of the competing Gefen unit--relatively painless. You can also program the remote to control various gear in your system, and have those remote codes transmitted wirelessly. This system allows you to point the clicker at the TV and change the channel on a cable box stashed across the room inside a cabinet, for example.
In concert with the remote, the DMX-WL1 features a rudimentary onscreen display that appears on your TV. It offers a setup menu for remote-control and language support, and can provide alerts, which usually pertain to inadequate signal strength. In tough transmission conditions, it's always better to have a graphical, onscreen confirmation than to have to interpret a series of indicator lights.
Sony uses a 5GHz wireless-transmission system developed by a company called Amimon, as opposed to the UWB (ultra-wideband) technology found in the Gefen unit. Sony claims a longer range than the Gefen (65 feet as opposed to 30), but in our testing the Sony was less stable and seemed more subject to interference.
In a high-def world with numerous 1080p sources, including Blu-ray and video game consoles, it's a shame that the Sony DMX-WL1 supports a maximum resolution of just 1080i. You'll need to set your output device to 1080i mode to use with the system. It also handles lower resolutions of 480i, 480p and 720p.
The Gefen, for its part, does handle 1080p in the 24-frame variety, but otherwise the Sony's feature set is much more comprehensive. It begins with excellent connectivity on the transmitter, including four HDMI inputs and one component-video input, along with an analog input and an optical digital-audio output. The analog-audio input allows you to connect DVI devices (via an HDMI to DVI adapter) that lack digital audio. Unlike the Gefen, which requires a separate analog-audio connection from the receiver, the Sony sends all audio and video signals via the single HDMI output on the receiver.