In an age of online and on-demand TV viewing it seems strange that we haven't seen more devices like the Veebeam. We reviewed the Veebeam HD model, priced competitively against the Apple TV, and the benefits soon became obvious.

While plenty of people have begun enjoying content online, it's not so easy to view the same content on a TV. The current options are to hook your laptop up to the TV and relinquish its other uses, or buy a product such as Apple TV. The latter methods tie you to specific content and, in some cases, you may even need to pay to watch content again via iTunes. Or you can use the Veebeam HD.

The Veebeam HD aims to return control to you, in HD and wirelessly too, bringing everything and anything you can watch on your PC (or Mac) to your TV.

Coming in two parts, an HDMI-connected receiver and a USB dongle, the Veebeam HD streams video from PC to TV in two ways. The first is, as you'd expect, a simple stream from your desktop to the television called Screencasting mode. The second method plays media files stored locally on your PC.

Unfortunately for those who enjoy streaming content from the web, Screencasting mode has to take over your PC's screen in order to play on the TV. However, if you play files stored on your system, you can continue to use the computer for other tasks while they play on your television.

We had a little trouble connecting the Veebeam HD at first, but found that after tweaking the Snow Leopard Firewall on our test Mac everything ran smoothly.

The Veebeam HD relies on a line-of-sight connection but in our tests it worked behind the TV at a good 10ft or more from the laptop without any hiccups. That said, the couple of seconds lag between what's shown on your desktop and on the TV makes control a little tricky if you're looking at the screen and using the laptop's trackpad, but for playback the video and audio look just fine. And look even better if it's in 1080p HD, especially in comparison to the Apple TV's 720p.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

Second-generation Apple TV review

Digital Home Advisor

Veebeam HD: Specs

  • Outputs: Composite A/V, HDMI, Digital Audio/TOSLink, 2 x USB
  • screen/input resolution 1280x1024
  • max output resolution 480i (NTSC/PAL), 1080p (HDMI)
  • DLNA, UPnP and Wireless USB Compatible
  • supports H.264/AVC/MPEG4 (part 2)/Xvid/WMV (VC-1)/MPEG-2/VP6/7/8/Theora video
  • supports MP3 (MPEG1 Layer 3)/AAC/AAC+/Dolby Digital/AC-3 (downmix)/LPCM (AIFF, WAV)/WMA/DTS (downmix)/FLAC audio
  • 120x120x80mm
  • compatible with Mac OS X (10.5, 10.6), Windows 7, Vista and XP
  • Outputs: Composite A/V, HDMI, Digital Audio/TOSLink, 2 x USB
  • screen/input resolution 1280x1024
  • max output resolution 480i (NTSC/PAL), 1080p (HDMI)
  • DLNA, UPnP and Wireless USB Compatible
  • supports H.264/AVC/MPEG4 (part 2)/Xvid/WMV (VC-1)/MPEG-2/VP6/7/8/Theora video
  • supports MP3 (MPEG1 Layer 3)/AAC/AAC+/Dolby Digital/AC-3 (downmix)/LPCM (AIFF, WAV)/WMA/DTS (downmix)/FLAC audio
  • 120x120x80mm
  • compatible with Mac OS X (10.5, 10.6), Windows 7, Vista and XP

OUR VERDICT

Those who’ve already bought an HD TV and don’t want to start looking at Internet-Ready options or Google TV boxes will be hard pushed to find a better device for getting their content from their computer to a TV. Sadly it’s not possible to use your Mac while streaming from the web.

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