Let’s say you’ve got an impressive audio/video system in your main media room, home theater, living room… whatever. Some of the source components probably cost a decent amount, such as a Kaleidescape Cinema One or an Oppo Blu-ray player. Or maybe you’re like me and only want to pay one monthly DVR rental fee. Now what do you do when you want to watch a movie or TV show in another room where those components aren’t located?
You could call in a professional who could set up a multiroom A/V distribution system, run wires through your walls, install balluns and matrix switchers and end up with an awesome connected system. However, if that’s out of your budget (because you put it all into that Cinema One) IOGEAR has a pretty smart solution, the Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix.
A couple of years ago IOGEAR came out with a wireless HDMI device that could, as you’ve probably guessed, send full HDMI signals (even 3D) wirelessly across your home from one A/V system to another. The system worked well, was reliable and a good solution for people who wanted to connect their components to more than one TV or wanted to hide their gear out of site (in a cabinet for example) and wirelessly send the video to the TV.
The company has one-upped, actually five-upped that system with a wireless 5x2 HD matrix system. The new wireless kit will let you connect five source components and wirelessly send the signal to a remote receiver. The system uses the 5GHz band (WHDI).
There are two main parts to the system. The first is a transmitter/switcher. It looks a lot like a standard HDMI switch, but a little bigger. The port panel includes four HDMI inputs plus one single-pin input that accepts a component adapter (the adapter includes component video and stereo audio). There’s a USB port for connecting a keyboard or a computer, an IR blaster port, and an HDMI out.
A smaller receiver features a single HDMI output plus a port for an IR extender.
Set up for me was as simple as hooking up any piece of AV gear. I plugged in a couple of HDMI cables from a Blu-ray player, Roku and DVR in my living room into the transmitter then attached the IR extenders to each one. The IR extenders are all mounted on a long wire, but you need to have your components pretty close to each other or stacked to make sure the wire reaches everything.
After that I went to the basement theater system where I took the HDMI output from the IOGEAR receiver and connected it to an HDMI input in my home theater receiver. I plugged the IR extender into the IOGEAR transmitter and attached the business end to a wall (double-sided tape is already attached). The wireless receiver is small and light enough to mount to a wall or tuck in behind a mounted TV.
We’re not sure what the VCR is doing here, since they don’t include HDMI ports, but otherwise this is essentially how the system is connected (kudos to reader Larry for spotting the VCR).
Both the transmitter and receiver blinked green for a half minute or so then linked up. Setup complete. The only other thing you might want to do is rename the inputs through the onscreen menu.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.