There are few things I like better than discovering simple, easy, and inexpensive ways to get things done. Asking your cable or satellite-TV service provider to set you up with a means of streaming video from your set-top box in one room to a TV in another fits the first two criteria, but they’ll stick you with a monthly service charge and equipment-rental fees. Here’s a solution you’ll need to pay for just once: the Nyrius Aries Home+ Wireless HD Transmitter.
What’s that? You’ve long since cut the cable cord? Congratulations. If you have something like a TiVO Roamio for recording over-the-air broadcasts, and a Roku, WD TV Live, or something like that for watching Netflix, you might also be interested in what Nyrius has to offer. Put simply, this kit enables you to stream up to 1080p video and Dolby Digital surround sound up to 100 feet without any new wires (walls and other obstacles will reduce that range). Thanks to an infrared extender kit, you can even control a playback device from whichever remote location you’re streaming to.
The Aries Home+ bears a strong resemblance to the Iogear Wireless HD 5x2 Matrix that I reviewed about 18 months ago, but it’s not as sophisticated. Both products consist of a transmitter that you place near your video sources, and a receiver that you connect to your remote TV. The street price of the Iogear product has dropped significantly since then, from $400 to $288, but the Aries Home+ is cheaper still at $250. Does that make it the better value? Only if you don’t need the additional features the Iogear offers.
The Aries Home+ transmitter has two HDMI inputs and a loop-through for a local TV; it makes no accommodations for analog signals. The Aries Home+ receiver has one HDMI output and an infrared receiver lens that allows you to remotely control up to two devices connected to the transmitter. Nyrius provides a three-headed emitter cable that you connect to the transmitter for this purpose. IR commands are sent back over the wireless connection and emerge from the emitters, which you tape over the source device’s IR receivers. The Aries Home+ itself comes with only one remote control for both the transmitter and receiver.
As its name suggests, the Iogear has five HDMI inputs on the transmitter side, plus an HDMI loop-through for a local TV. The Iogear transmitter also has an analog AV input that takes a proprietary cable (provided with the unit). Unless you have legacy hardware in your entertainment center, such as a VCR, you won’t care about that. If your remote source is a home-theater PC, on the other hand, you will care that the Iogear’s receiver has a USB port that can accommodate a mouse or keyboard; the Aries Home+ doesn’t have that either. As with the Aries Home+, you can plug an emitter cable into the Iogear transmitter’s infrared output jack and remotely control the devices you’ve connected to it from the other room.
The final difference is that Iogear provides two remote controls—one for the transmitter and one for the receiver—because let’s face it: one remote will never be in the room where you need it.
As I found with the Iogear, the Aries Home+ is truly a plug-and-play affair: Connect the HDMI cables, plug in the power cables, and the transmitter and receiver sync up in fairly short order. I had no problem streaming 1080p video and Dolby Digital surround sound to almost every room in my home, despite the double-thick walls of my home theater, where I located the Aries Home+ transmitter. Video quality, being uncompressed, is excellent. And while I would have preferred to be able to stream a Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack from a Blu-ray player to my remote TV, I have no real complaints about the quality of the audio I did hear.
Is it a good value?
The manufacturer’s suggested price for the Aries Home+ is $250, which is $38 cheaper than the street price of the Iogear Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix. If you don’t need the extra features the Iogear offers—three additional HDMI inputs, the ability to handle analog audio and video, and the dual remote controls—the Aries Home+ is a better value. I’m sure prices will drop once the new device has been on the market for a while, but I would have liked to have seen a bigger pricing delta right out of the gate.