This isn’t another article about whether expensive HDMI cables are better than cheap ones. Instead, let’s talk about a product that takes HDMI cables out of the picture altogether. Okay, to be fair, you need to keep one HDMI cable in the mix, but that’s it, and the freedom from the jumble of cords behind your TV feels glorious. Atlona Technologies has a product called LinkCast that could make HDMI cables basically irrelevant except right at the display.
Is this a product you need? For most people, no, you never even thought of it before, but once you do, you’ll wonder why this isn’t everywhere.
Picture this: you have a movie saved on your laptop that you want to play on your TV, but you don’t want to get off the couch. LinkCast lets you play it it wirelessly. Here’s another scenario: I spin my TV around to plug something into the back and the tip of one of the incredibly cheap HDMI cables I’m using actually snaps off in the TV! I had to pull it out with pliers. Or this common one: I go to a friend’s house and they have a HDMI cable lying free halfway across the floor desperately awaiting the rare occasion when it will be plugged into a computer.
These are the most basic situations where LinkCast is the solution, but it goes a lot deeper, coming from Atlona, a company known in the AV industry for its whole home distribution products and HDMI matrices.
The LinkCast starts with two parts: a receiver that plugs into an HDMI slot in your TV, and an HDMI transmitter dongle that plugs into your device. Then with the press of a button on the included remote control, any content on your device is playing through the TV.
It gets even more interesting when you start buying extra transmitters. One receiver can display up to five devices, and the remote allows you to quickly switch between them.
Now instead of having a jumble of HDMI cables running into the back of your TV, you can have just one cable running to the receiver, and a transmitter on the back of each device. You can wirelessly connect any device that has an HDMI and a USB port. That could be your Blu-ray player, Xbox, computer, cable box, or just about anything else these days. If you’re using a tablet with a micro USB port, you can get a converter pretty cheaply. And a nice feature is the included hinge piece, which gives the flexibility to plug into different devices and spaces.
The devices you use LinkCast with can then be placed anywhere in the room, since the transmitter can broadcast up to 40 feet.
To avoid interference, the LinkCast receiver should be at least two feet away from a router. I had mine just on the other side of the TV stand, and had no interference at all.
The LinkCast can send up to 1080p and full 3D HDTV, as well as up to Dolby 5.1 digital audio. It sends the video with no latency, which is important for PC and console games.
When you plug into your computer, you can go into your display settings and choose between extending your screen onto the TV, or mirroring your computer screen on the TV. For me, that was as simple as a right click on the desktop. I plugged my other transmitter into my Xbox and could easily switch between the two. The remote has three buttons for instance source switching. Add any more and you’ll have to cycle through. You can also rename the sources using the remote so you know which one you’re picking.
At $299.99 for the basic kit, and $149.99 for each additional transmitter, it is an investment. But coming from Atlona, it’s a quality build, and I haven’t seen anything else that can do this. I hope one day this technology will be built into every device in my entertainment center. LinkCast is the real cord cutting, and I hope this technology will have a huge impact on the future of the living room.