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Sounding more than just a little bit Scottish, McTiVia is a Wi-Fi receiver about the size of the palm of your hand. Wait! Don't walk away yet! It does something else.
You see, with the correct driver installed on your laptop, and the McTiVia hooked up to your TV over HDMI, you can then display the contents of your laptop wirelessly to your TV. Nifty, eh?
Of course, this is bound with limitations, as Wi-Fi is a little bandwidth strapped and subject to interference. As such, you're limited to 720p and stereo sound, and even then what appears on screen can be laggy compared to what's happening on your laptop. Thankfully, we never experienced sound desynchronising with video, so for video playback it should be fine, if a little delayed.
Despite this wireless capability, the McTiVia can also be connected to by cable thanks to its Ethernet jack, providing a much speedier and more stable video stream — but sadly still limited to 720p. We're not sure of the reasoning behind this — perhaps it's the 300MHz ARM processor inside that's limiting the performance.
There's even a USB port on the thing, which allows you to control your PC remotely if you so desire via keyboard or mouse.
Upon installing the McTiVia software (Windows or OS X only, kiddies) and connecting to the device, you can choose between two modes: video and application. Video mode has considerable lag — up to two seconds in our tests — and is presumably buffering and ensuring sound is transferred in sync. However, application mode is near instant on video, and generally should only be used when you're connected to the device via Ethernet. We did notice that audio didn't quite catch up with video in application mode, and when switching between modes the audio streams would occasionally die, requiring us to restart the app — so make sure you've got things set up properly first.
In a nice touch, McTiVia allows you to set the overscan of its output through its software. Sadly, there's no preview, so a lot of trial and error is needed before you get the perfect picture.
There's no need to limit to one PC either — the McTiVia will happily work with up to eight different machines, although obviously not simultaneously.
As an extra bonus, if you're not connecting to the McTiVia wirelessly, you can also use the device as an access point, but it only offers 2.4GHz.
For the hardcore there is a web user interface built into the device, where you can configure networking settings, update your firmware and check the status of the McTiVia.
It is by and large an incredibly easy device to use, even for tech novices. We were up and running in less than five minutes, including downloading and installing software.
The McTiVia is a great little device. We'd imagine the market is niche, and the lack of 1080p support really hurts — but we're sure many people will find it handy if they don't want to constantly plug their laptop into their TV.