Media Streamers and Hubs Guide
The End of the Line
The End of the Line
Undeniably, wireless connectivity has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Thus, it came as no surprise when ZyXEL sent us their first wireless projector adaptor, the WPA-1000. Though ZyXEL can't lay claims to being the first to provide wireless projection solutions, the WPA-1000 differs from existing offerings by offering quick and seamless changeover from one presenter to the next.
Send Invisibly, Receive Visibly
The advantage of wireless connectivity is an immediate elimination of cables, and the WPA-1000 delivers this via the common 802.11b/g specification. It differs from say, Epson's range of wireless projectors by being an external peripheral that grants wireless connectivity when connected to a projector that didn't come with wireless connectivity originally. To that purpose, the WPA-1000 uses a common 15-pin VGA connector to interface with projectors, which means installation is easy.
Obviously, transmission quality is the main concern now that video data is transmitted wirelessly. For PowerPoint presentations, the data streaming bandwidth of the WPA-1000 was found to be just sufficient for text slides. Playback of animation and embedded videos on the other hand, was too choppy, clear indication that the WPA-1000 is still not quite up to the task of full-fledge multimedia presentations. This shortcoming is all the more glaring given the fact that presentations these days have long past the old days of plain text and still images.
Lossless and Secure Transmission
The upshot is that the WPA-1000 is very easy to setup. Getting it to connect to Wi-Fi enabled PCs or notebooks is a very simple process of making a few clicks on the bundled utility. It's a good thing ZyXEL made the utility directly downloadable from the adaptor when it's connected to your PC; installation time is greatly reduced. Alternatively, it can also be installed from the software CD.
WLAN configuration however, is a bit more challenging, requiring us to perform a quick software update before a connection can be established.
However, even after the update, the WLAN connection we had was not entirely stable; evident by occasional drops whereby our test notebooks, Windows XP and Vista respectively, would simply be disconnected automatically. What's encouraging though is that the WPA-1000 has not one but two security layers to prevent unauthorized broadcast. The first is your commonplace WEP that provides up to 128-bit protection (26 characters) and the other is a 4-digit randomized login code that is shown each time the WPA-1000 is fired up for use.
Useful its wireless transmission may be, the convenience the WPA-1000 brings is, unfortunately, its weakness as well. Unlike conventional wired connection to a projector whereby Internet can still be accessed via wireless connection simultaneously, anyone using the WPA-1000 will have no such benefit. It's an either-or situation: wireless projection or wireless Internet connection. Despite this, it is still arguably the lesser of two evils when compared to a cluttered environment of wires and cumbersome switchover between multiple presenters.
In all reality, the wireless projector market is a small one, with big league players such as NEC, Newsoft and Mitsubishi taking up much of the market share. At the end of the day, the ZyXEL WPA-1000 at S$375 does have several qualities to warrant a consideration from you. From Vista support to ease of installation from its well designed utility, it can be seen that ZyXEL had given much thought to the WPA-1000. The wireless convenience it brings is unquestionable, but you might want to consider your options if your presentations often include embedded audio and video clips.