Vizio XWH200 Wireless HDMI Kit Review: It Just Works
At a Glance
Vizio XWH200 Wireless HDMI Audio/Video Kit
Vizio's XWH200 Wireless HDMI Kit is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to cut down on cabling in your home theater setup, but it has a few quirks.
Wireless HDMI technology has been around for a few years now--but with entry-level kits costing upward of $800, it appealed primarily to dedicated home-theater enthusiasts. Now, however, Wireless HDMI kits like Vizio's XWH200 ($230) are reaching the market at prices that, while still not cheap for a TV accessory, aren't outrageously high, either. And fortunately, the lower price tag doesn't entail a corresponding drop in quality.
Wireless HDMI caters to people with wall-mounted HDTVs. A properly mounted TV can look very elegant and can free up a lot of space in a cramped room, but once you start using it, it can be kind of a pain: Either you mount it with a bracket that lets you put your cable box, game console, Blu-ray player, and whatever else you plug into your TV up against the wall with it (making them harder to access when you're switching discs and so on), or you let them sit on the floor below the TV (leaving your wall an unsightly mess with black cables snaking down from the TV).
With a Wireless HDMI kit, you can plug the receiver (which is small enough to fit inconspicuously) into the TV, and keep the transmitter by your home-theater gear, wherever you keep it. Voilà: Your HDTV looks like a magical screen floating on air, your devices are more readily accessible than they would be if they were next to the television, and the effect is more aesthetically pleasing than if your equipment were sitting under the TV in a tangle of AV cables.
There are other reasons to buy a Wireless HDMI kit, however. My main desktop PC is located in my living room, about 10 feet from my HDTV; and though it isn't wall-mounted, it's far enough from my desktop that I wouldn't want to run an HDMI cord between the two that people might trip on (or that my cats might mess with) and risk hurting themselves or damaging my gear. With a Wireless HDMI kit, I can use my 42-inch HDTV to watch Hulu Plus, Blu-ray movies, live streaming video, and everything else I usually watch on my PC's 24-inch monitor.
Vizio's XWH200 worked perfectly for this purpose. First I plugged the XWH200 into my PC video card's HDMI port, plugged in the power adapter, and connected the XWH200 receiver to an open HDMI port on my HDTV. My PC didn't immediately detect the HDMI kit as a new display; but after I rebooted my PC, Windows recognized it as a second monitor. Then I opened the Sound control panel and set my TV as the default audio device, and I was ready to go. Games, Blu-ray discs, video streaming--everything worked without a hitch. I didn't notice any significant lag from the wireless connection, which surprised me.
I did encounter occasional glitches when the wireless connection got disrupted. Sometimes the wireless kit would spontaneously switch to a different input, and Windows wouldn't recognize my TV as an external display until I rebooted my computer and power-cycled the transmitter and receiver. But I'm not sure whether the culprit was the wireless kit, Windows, my video card (an Nvidia GTX 570), or some combination of the three.
I also tried the XWH200 out with my Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with generally successful results, though I ran into a problem with the Xbox 360 initially. For some reason, the Xbox didn't seem to recognize the XWH200 as a usable display. After I booted the Xbox up with a normal HDMI cable connection and then connected it to the XWH200, however, it worked fine.
How far does the Vizio XWH200 reach? The advertised range is 30 feet. I used it for days at a distance of roughly 6 to 7 feet from my HDTV, and I didn't notice any problems other than an occasional minor hiccup when someone walked in between my PC and my TV. Even that issue wasn't consistent, though: As I type this, I'm standing between the transmitter and the receiver and making a call on my cell phone--and the TV signal is undisrupted. And since you don't need a line-of-sight connection between the transmitter and the receiver, you could conceivably stow the gear in a desk drawer somewhere, and it would continue to work fine. I rearranged my wireless setup to extend across a distance of about 20 feet, with no line-of-sight link, and it still worked.
If you're looking for a wireless HDMI kit that performs well at a reasonable price, the Vizio XWH200 is easy to recommend. It has a few quirks, but at $230, it's a solid bet for your buck.