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Simple and Easy with IOGEAR: Video Round-Up Part 6

Sometimes simple and easy is the way to go. While we have discussed some fairly sophisticated and comprehensive Internet TV media streamers and adapters in our recent coverage, it is important to note that there are also some fairly simple plug-and-play options available too.

IOGEAR is one of them. Headquartered in Irvine, CA, IOGEAR offers a range of convergence solutions such as KVM (a way to connect your Keyboard, Video, Mouse to multiple PCs), home networking, AV devices, and mobility gadgets. But what really caught my eye was the simple and easy wireless USB kit.

What is wireless USB? Well, we all know how to connect our keyboards and mice to our desktop and computers (replacing those horrible serial ports). We also know we can use those nice little flash drives to store our media or transport digital photos and such via USB. Some of us have also adopted wireless Bluetooth devices for our computers for these same applications. But what if we could use USB to connect our computers to our TVs. Ahhhh, wouldn’t that be great?

Well, now we can. IOGEAR’s wireless USB audio/video kit allows consumers to easily bridge the gap between their computers and home theater systems. Rather than having to clutter your living room with wires, put a connected PC near your HDTV, or configure a new device on your network, wireless USB keeps it simple. IOGEAR’s Wireless USB Audio/Video Kit creates a wire-free entertainment system by streaming audio and video content to an in-room TV up to 30 feet away. The product consists of three adapters: audio for speaker connectivity, VGA for a TV or monitor, and Wireless USB for the hosting PC (sorry Mac users, you are out of luck for now). It provides HD streaming at resolutions up to 720p and supports stereo sound. While simple to understand and install, it will still be priced in the range of some of the more sophisticated media streamers we have covered: $349.95 (expected to ship in March 2009).

See video demo.

I have to say, after scouring the CES show floor for the best Internet TV and PC digital media solutions, I was struck by the elegance of the IOGEAR Wireless USB kit. At Trender Research, we try to focus on cool gadgets and services, but always with an angle to what has a good chance to become mainstream. This does not always mean the fanciest device or the one packed with the most features. Of course the AV enthusiast might balk at a solution limited to 720P. Folks will still need to figure out how to “hide” the host PC since this is limited to an in-room solution up to 30 feet away (as opposed to Belkin’s more expensive long-range FlyWire system that goes through walls). But the thing works, and without any noticeable delay. Plug in a Media Center, Boxee, or Zinc interface, position the PC in an unobtrusive spot, and sit back into the couch to enjoy the best of your local and online digital media. The only major downside I see to this approach, besides only working in-room on one TV, is the need to buy a wireless remote to control the PC rather than having the thing on your lap. Fortunately, there are a range of options for that now, with ZeeVee’s ZvRemote and Logitech’s diNovo Mini being among the best.

So while IOGEAR has a range of sophisticated products, their launch of the Wireless USB AV Kit shows they “get it” when it comes to one of the major tenets to driving a new trend, simplicity and ease of use. I hope to catch up with them to discuss their full range of products in an upcoming podcast.

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