It seems that every PC laptop these days offers a convenient HDMI-out port that connects directly to an HDTV, allowing you to transform a big screen into an additional monitor. For those with laptops missing that vital HDMI slot, especially anyone with an Apple laptop, there aren't too many options in accomplishing the same end result.
Last year we looked at the IOGear Wireless Audio/Video Kit, which was a bit expensive and kind of a pain to set up. Regardless, once up and running, it did exactly what it was supposed to. We wish it came with some sort of HDMI support, the absence of which severely hindered our decision to recommend the product.
With the Warpia USB-to-TV system, we've found a similar product with an overall better design and improved functionality. If your laptop isn't equipped with an HDMI port, this system is worth checking out if you want to get audio and video from a laptop to your HDTV.
The Warpia system consists of two main devices, a USB transmitter and a USB AV receiver. The receiver also has a detachable USB dongle that can be positioned in one of two orientations. The unit can also be wall-mounted, though keep in mind it still must be close enough to attach to an HDTV or receiver.
The USB transmitter is a right-angled dongle that can rotate 270 degrees for optimal reception. It's no bigger than a standard-size thumbdrive and has a green LED light that blinks during operation. The receiving base offers a standard VGA port, HDMI-out, and 1/8-inch audio port. The base also requires power from the included AC adapter.
We were surprised at how simple setup was. Though the system comes with an installation CD, the company's Web site has the most updated drivers for the included devices. Both the transmitter and receiver operate on separate firmware, so you'll garner the best performance results with the latest versions of each.
During software and driver installation, the application will ask for the transmitter to be plugged in, followed by the receiver. Once both are updated and confirmed, the installed Wireless USB Manager takes care of everything else.
There's a certain comfort in the plug-and-play convenience the Warpia provides, as each time we plugged the transmitter dongle in, the signal instantly jumped over to our receiver and the HDTV it was tethered to.
We did have a slight issue with our laptop screen automatically adjusting its own resolution, but it was nothing a quick display setting change couldn't fix. When connected, the Warpia system allows you either mirror or extend your current screen to an HDTV. All of these settings are easily accessible via the system tray icon that's installed during the initial one-time setup.