Online catch-up TV services, YouTube, LoveFilm streaming, etc, all mean more and more TV content being viewed on laptops rather than on TV. The small laptop screen and tinny laptop sound is a less than enticing viewing experience compared to TV so the Veebeam – a newly released consumer device – aims to put laptop content back on TV.
The makers of Veebeam sent Televisual one of its £139 Veebeam HD devices to see what we thought. Out of the box, the first impressions are favourable – it’s a fairly small, agreeably designed piece of hardware that sits relatively unobtrusively next to the TV.
The first task to get it up and running is to connect the Veebeam to your TV, which, with the HD version, is via an HDMI cable. An SD version is also available (for £99) that uses a composite a/v cable rather than HDMI.
Next up is installing the Veebeam software. It works on a Mac or PC, and you can install it on as many laptops as you have in your home.
Slotted into the Veebeam is a removable USB antenna that you take out and plug into your laptop. Then you have to sit your laptop in line of sight of the Veebeam, and no more than 10 metres away, and wait a few moments for the two to make a connection.
Once connected, your laptop screen is mirrored on the TV, so you can start full-screen streaming from iPlayer, YouTube or whatever and it’s all shown on your TV. The audio also comes out of your TV speakers, so it’s a very TV-like viewing experience.
The Veebeam software also installs a Veebeam player that, rather than mirroring your laptop screen on TV, ‘sends’ movie files stored on your hard drive to the Veebeam, making it possible to watch them on TV while still being able to use your laptop.
The Veebeam HD player enables high-quality 1080p HD files to be displayed in full-res on your TV, but currently Mac users can only use the player for .mov and .mp4 files. Other commonly used file formats, such as .avi files, aren’t presently supported. Veebeam says this will come in a future version of the Mac software, while the PC player already works with a much broader range of file formats.
Having used the Veebeam fairly extensively for the last few days, overall I’d say it’s a useful device. It’s very straightforward to get up and running and is much less cumbersome than connecting a display port to HDMI adapter and HDMI cable to a MacBook (along with a set of speakers as the display port adapter doesn’t carry sound for some reason) every time you want to watch laptop-hosted content on TV.
As long as you keep the laptop in line of sight, the Veebeam link seems to work fine. There’s a delay of a few seconds in whatever you do on your laptop being shown on TV – it’s not instant as it is when using cables – so this takes a bit of getting used to. And you’ll want to point your laptop screen away from you as it’s pretty distracting seeing the content a few seconds ahead out the corner of your eye on the laptop screen.
Not having a good range of movie files supported for the Mac Veebeam player is frustrating as using ‘screencasting’ (ie. displaying the laptop screen on the TV) ties up your laptop so you can’t use it for anything else.
The Veebeam’s image quality – even when streaming from online catch-up services (assuming you’ve a reasonable broadband speed) – is consistently good, and downloaded 1080p HD files look suitably impressive on the TV screen, not dissimilar to watching a Blu-ray.
The main issue for Veebeam will be how long it will be relevant. Once the likes of YouView are available, Veebeam may well struggle to get much of a look in.
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