Hands On: ZeeVee ZvPro 250 HD Video Distribution
ZeeVee’s ZvPro 250 sends HD content to all TVs on a home’s coax network for an all-you-can-view buffet.
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ZeeVee’s ZvPro 250
November 06, 2009 by Tom LeBlanc

I like watching TV. Clearly, the people at ZeeVee do, too, because their ZvPro 250 and ZvBox 150 turn TV viewing into an all-you-can-watch, anywhere-you-can-watch-it-in-HD experience. Suffice it to say, I really liked my time with the ZvPro 250.

I like that the ZvPro 250 turned my condo’s coaxial network into a high-definition video distribution system. ZeeVee says there’s no limit to the number of HDTVs that can receive content from a single ZvPro 250.

Connected to a cable or satellite box, the ZvPro 250 makes the channels that box gets accessible from any TV connected to the venue’s coax network. If the box is also a DVR, the recorded content becomes accessible, too.

I like that ZeeVee’s Zinc Internet Video Browser allows me to select online videos from any TV on the network.
It should be noted that I tested the ZvPro 250 (retail: $2,499), as opposed to the ZvBox 150 (retail: $999).

Some of ZvPro 250’s step-up features include:

  • Outputs up to 1080p using the VGA input and up to 1080i using the component input, whereas the ZvBox 150 maxes out at 720p.
  • Fan-cooled, so it can be installed in racks, while the ZvBox 150 needs more breathing room because it uses its chassis as a heat sink and runs warm.
  • RS-232 serial port, which can be configured as a control port for switching inputs.

The overwhelming benefit of the ZvPro 250 is how it creates a large-scale HD distribution system without the need to run any wires. On a small scale, however, my 650-square-foot condo provides a nice illustration of what the ZvPro 250 does.

We have our main TV, cable box/DVR and surround sound system in the living room. The bedroom, however, is small and oddly shaped. My wife and I had to be pretty economical with space to get everything in there.

We have a wall-mounted LCD TV, but there’s no space for a cable box, so the coax runs directly to the wall. In Boston where our 100-plus-year-old building sits, Comcast only provides very basic cable channels with that setup.

The ZvPro 250 expanded our options dramatically, and the sleek component is barely noticeable in our living room A/V rack. I loved being able to catch the end of Red Sox games in HD while lying in bed—even though Comcast would prefer that I pay another $10 or so per month for that privilege.

My wife likes being able to access her recorded shows in the bedroom. We both particularly enjoyed the Netflix “watch instantly” feature integrated in the ZeeVee Presents homepage. At the time, we were catching up on Lost, painstakingly waiting for the next cliffhanging discs to arrive in the mail. Suddenly, we had instant access to Netflix’s 12,000-plus instant titles, including Lost. We also have a roof deck that has a cable input.

That means we can plug in a TV and watch cable, DVR and online content under the stars. Why look at the view of Boston when you can watch every episode of Cheers, right? Okay, maybe not; but the point is that we could. Cheers, indeed.

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Specifications, Pros and Cons

AT A GLANCE

Specs:
> Creates an HDTV channel and distributes it over coax to every HDTV on premises
> Works with any VGA or HD video source
> 1080, 720 and 480 on component input
> Up to 1680x1050 on VGA
> 1080i and 720p encoding
> $2,499
> Sister product ZvBox 150 (up to 720p) is $999

Pros:
> Allows cable box and online content to be viewed from any on-premises TV connected to coax.
> Not necessary to run wires, which saves a lot of money.
> Great online interface makes watching streaming content super-easy.

Cons:
> Expensive (although, relative to the cost of wiring for an HD distribution system it’s cheap. Also, there’s the 720p $999 alternative.)
> Can’t watch two different cable box channels on two different connected TVs (but you can watch online content while another TV watches cable content). 


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