GCN LAB REVIEW
Display adapter an inexpensive way to improve presentations
Warpia's wireless USB unit helps classroom computer managers on a tight budget
In a computer course classroom, some teachers may need to show students what their computers are doing. Often this is achieved by using a projector such as the NEC model we reviewed this month. But certain classroom floor plans make the use of projectors impractical. If the room isn’t long enough, for instance, the projected image could be quite small and require students to huddle close to see it. That would lead to shadows of people blocking the projection. Other rooms are simply too bright for projector use. And then the latest LCD projector might also be too expensive for a tight budget.
An alternative to this might be an extra monitor connected to the teacher’s computer. Unfortunately, most classroom budgets don’t allow for this extravagance, and if they did, the extra monitor might not be movable to an optimal viewing position. That usually requires the television that is used to show VHS tapes and DVDs to be wheeled in on a clunky A/V cart. It’s hardly high-tech.
But guess what? With the right technology, this could serve as the means of displaying the demonstration anyway.
The SWP100A Wireless USB A/V Adapter from Warpia is a device for this job. The SWP100A’s base unit is only 3 inches wide by 3 inches long by 1 inch high, not including the USB adapter, which can be plugged into one of two ports. This unit weighs all of 2.5 ounces, so it’s quite easy to move from classroom to classroom. It has ports for HDMI and SVGA video, as well as a 3.5 mm jack and the aforementioned HDMI for stereo audio.
Warpia SWP100A Wireless USB A/V Adapter
Pros: Easy to set up; low cost.
Cons: Limited video connections.
Ease of Use: A
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We were disappointed to find the inflexibility that these port options provided. Only the newer TVs and monitors would have an HDMI port, and older monitors would have an SVGA port. We felt that an S-video or RCA composite video port would have covered the middle ground much better than the options provided.
Setup was easy. We just plugged the base unit into a display, plugged the USB adapter into a notebook computer and ran the installation software. At this point the monitor showed everything that the laptop was doing. We found that the wireless connection worked fine as long as the unit stayed in line-of-sight range within the recommended distance of 30 feet. This still gave quite a lot of room to maneuver around a meeting room or even a lecture hall, and provided many placement options for the monitor and the computer. We could find no noticeable delay between the displays of the notebook PC and the remote monitor.
One might think this to be an ideal accessory for connecting a console game device wirelessly to a television. However, we want to point out that any device to be connected in this way must be able to run the driver for the USB adapter, and most consoles would not be able to do this. However, since this is not what the SWP100A was designed for, this isn’t really a shortcoming. We just felt it necessary to point it out.
Warpia has set the retail price of the SWP100A Wireless USB A/V Adapter at $140. We felt this was a good price for something that could eliminate or at least severely delay the purchase of new display equipment. It should be noted that the cost of even a moderately priced projector is about five times the cost of the SWP100A.
This display adapter would do best in smaller classrooms. However, it should appeal to the network administrator of any school that is on an extremely tight budget for new purchases. And making use of your existing equipment is almost always better than buying new stuff if what you have on hand can still get the job done.