Veebeam review: Veebeam

Performance
When we first began testing the Veebeam, we were surprised to learn that screencast mode, the device's main function, totally monopolizes your laptop. In other words, there's no way to project onscreen content to the TV that's different from your laptop screen. With Intel's WiDi system, on the other hand, you can use the TV as a second, separate monitor, in an extended desktop configuration for example.

Speaking of desktops, the screencast function doesn't capture everything; we noticed pop-up notifications, for example, didn't appear on the TV. Neither did our cursor, which, along with the 2- to 3-second delay between laptop and screen, makes Veebeam a relatively poor presentation device if you want to do more than just stream video or a PowerPoint, for example. And given that delay, don't even think about using it for gaming.

It's also worth noting that the wireless transmission range isn't terribly robust. When we tried broadcasting from a desktop PC one room away (about 20 feet or so, through a walled closet), the dongle wouldn't connect with the Veebeam base station. Stick to transmitting from the same room--from the sofa or a nearby desk--and you'll probably be fine.

In screencast mode the Veebeam otherwise works as advertised, and can deliver watchable and in-sync sound without having to connect a wire from your laptop to your TV. With high-quality feeds like Hulu.com's HD version of "No Ordinary Family" or "The Event," for example, the image on our laptop's screen was projected faithfully enough, with OK detail--roughly DVD quality at best--and no obvious signs of compression or other trickery that weren't present in the source. Of course video quality is highly dependent on the source Web site and Internet connection.

During normal use, we never experienced major breakup or dropouts of the video or audio on the TV in our hours of testing both at home and in a more crowded wireless environment at work. We were able to get up and walk around the room without interrupting the stream. The company says 10 meters is the range limit, which should be plenty for most living room setups, although in both home and office environments we found 20 feet was a closer limit, and that closing a door disrupted the signal. When that happened, the screen went black and stayed that way even when we moved back into range. To reconnect we had to manually hit "find" in the software.

A wired HDMI connection will still deliver superior picture quality overall than Veebeam's screencast. Images from Hulu and Netflix looked noticeably softer, despite setting the Veebeam to output 1080p/60Hz video. Worse in our opinion were the artifacts, which included some excessive judder (stuttering in moving video that seemed like dropped frames) as well as brief bursts of thin vertical lines and breakup that appeared intermittently. The judder and lines occurred often and intensely enough to be noticeable, but not enough to render the videos unwatchable. We experienced these issues both at home and at the office, and reducing the resolution as suggested by Veebeam's troubleshooting section didn't help.

We also tested the Veebeam side by side against a Samsung QX410-J01 equipped with WiDi. With identical material playing side by side on the similarly powered laptops, the WiDi streaming was definitely sharper, and didn't show the kinds of artifacts we saw on the Veebeam. On the other hand, the Hulu and network logos on the WiDi unit flashed and strobed in full-screen mode.

Aside from video quality, we also encountered a couple of usability gaffes while screencasting. Twice while watching a Hulu video the Chrome browser on our Lenovo laptop crashed and had to be restarted, something that we hadn't experienced without Veebeam connected (luckily, restarting the browser fixed the video, and Hulu allowed resume...after serving an ad, or course). Also, on a couple of occasions after unplugging and replugging in the USB adapter, its yellow indicator light would flash rapidly ("The USB antenna is switching on" per the manual) but nothing would happen. Restarting our PC was the only way to get the system to function normally. This was rare, however, and most times this kind of hot-swap of the adapter didn't cause any issues.

Aside from screencasting, the Veebeam software can also play video files directly and project them onscreen, which allows you to use your laptop for other tasks at the same time. You'll need to install the correct codecs on your laptop, provided you haven't already, and conveniently the Veebeam online manual links to prominent codec packs for major video file types used by both Mac and PC.

Once we had installed one of the packs, ffwdshow for PC, we were able to play most of our test videos file using the Veebeam player. It wouldn't play one QuickTime (.mov) file nor one MPEG-2 camcorder video (.ts), but other files of the same type played OK, as did a selection of MPEG-4, VC-1, and DivX/xvid videos. The exception applies to copyrighted videos, including DVD or Blu-ray discs, which wouldn't play via either screencast or otherwise.

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Veebeam HD

Part Number: VB002-US Released: Nov. 1, 2010
MSRP: $139.99 Low Price: $129.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov. 1, 2010