Imation Link A/V Extender
Over the next few months the market is going to be flooded with ways to make your TV smarter. Whether it be GoogleTV, AppleTV, Boxee Box or others, companies are going to try to convince you that you NEED internet on your dumb old TV. Different people have different needs. Some people, like Ronen, have dedicated home computer connected to their TV for movies and streaming content. Others crave a smaller and cheaper dedicated box for streaming content, like those by Apple, Google, Boxee and Roku.
The Imation Link is best for those with laptops that want to view their content on the big screen. Instead of having to manually tether a laptop to the TV, the link wirelessly streams whatever is on the desktop to the TV. I took one home to test, read on for the hands on!
Packaging: I don’t usually discuss the packaging but this time I simply can’t ignore it. The Imation Link comes in a sexy black box that has a fancy rubbery texture to it. I made me feel like I was opening something awesome.
Setup: This was one time where the warnings are important. In order for the link to work, the software has to be installed on the computer before plugging in the base receiver. Because most people don’t bother with instruction, there is a big warning on the bag holding the power cable making sure that you don’t forget this one time to follow the rules. For PC users, the software is on the wireless USB that you are going to use to stream your content. So all you have to do is plug it in and let it install. For Mac users, there is an included CD so you can install the drivers separately. On my PC the process was smooth as butter.
Receiver: The receiver has a power input, HDMI, VGA and audio output. Having both the options of using HDMI or VGA means that this will work on almost any TV or projector. The receiver is pretty small and almost disappears in most TV setups.
Wireless USB: The transmitter is the size of a normal USB stick and feels equally unassuming in your hand or attached to your laptop.
After the initial setup I was pleasantly surprised at the options that the Link provides for streaming. You can either: mirror your screen. If you choose this option, the TV will display anything on your screen. This means that you can’t use your computer for anything else while you watch your videos full screen–rendering your laptop useless during viewing; or you can create a second screen. If you choose this option you simply drag any application to the side of the screen and it appears on the TV like a second monitor. If you choose this option–which you should–than you can use your laptop constantly and just drag your media applications to the TV. I used the latter option and was able to surf the net while watching the latest episode of “Chuck” on the TV using Hulu desktop.
Final word: For those who don’t believe that they need a new dedicated device to stream media for the internet, the Imation Link does what it promises and streams anything you want to your TV without any fuss.
- Price: Some might argue that the Link simply isn’t worth the price considering that the standalone companion devices are roughly in the same ballpark. But the Link has benefits that these other devices simply can’t match. You can watch Hulu for FREE without having to use any subscription based Hulu Plus service. Moreover, you are free to show pretty much anything you want–whatever you can see on your computer you can stream to your TV. All in all, if you are a laptop streaming Hulu watcher, this is a pretty awesome device.