Although a few receivers are endowed with a degree of online functionality, it tends to be restricted. Freesat HD boxes may offer BBC iPlayer, but ITV Player and 4oD are currently not catered for. Even the best enthusiast boxes (and TVs) have added bonuses like YouTube but ultimately limit your choice with 'walled-gardens'.
And though media players are available, the support for codecs and formats usually leaves much to be desired. Basically, there's no substitute for an up-to-date Mac or PC – the keyboards of which are far friendlier when it comes to entering text into search engines and so on.
You can connect a computer to a TV via HDMI or VGA. However, a more convenient wireless solution can be found in the unusual Veebeam HD.
Here, a wireless USB dongle transmits whatever is on your PC (or Mac) desktop to a distinctive black box.
This is the receiver and it's connected to your TV via HDMI or composite. Audio connections are stereo phonos and optical S/PDIF with Dolby/DTS support.
Easy to use
Veebeam is easy to use; download the software – only Windows 7/Vista or MacOS 10.5/6 are catered for – make the connections and you're away.
Two modes of operation are available. The default 'screencast' mode duplicates on the TV whatever you see on your desktop. Support for resolutions of up to 1080p will accommodate HD video and photos as well as ensuring that desktops retain their legibility. Sound and picture quality here is good, although resizing artefacts can impair the legibility of text.
The composite output is grossly inferior, and should never be used to screencast hi-res desktops (a composite only SD version is available for £99).
A second mode ('play-to') allows video to be streamed to the TV via Veebeam while your computer is being used for other tasks, but some formats such as PAL MPEG are incompatible with it.
Play-to mode demonstrates Veebeam's need for a fast computer (2.2GHz Intel Core Duo or i3/5/7). It accounted for 60 per cent of the CPU usage of a two-year-old Samsung Intel Core Duo notebook PC – in other respects an ideal Veebeam partner – and video playback was rather choppy.
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