WMS 200 Video Wi-Fi Projector Adapter
Wednesday, June 11, 2008; 12:19 AM
If you want to transmit your PowerPoint presentations wirelessly but your projector isn'tWi-Fi-capable, you don't have to invest in a new model. NewSoft's WMS 200 Video adds Wi-Fi connectivity to any projector. This adapter, about the size of a person's hand, effectively transmits single images and full-motion videos from a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop or tablet PC to any standard projector or display device.
The $349 WMS (Wireless Multimedia System) 200 package contains a wireless receiver, a software CD, a quick guide, and a power adapter. The receiver, which barely weighs a pound, transmits images at SVGA (800 by 600) and XGA (1024 by 768) resolutions using 802.11a/b/g and ethernet network standards. The receiver has D-Sub (VGA), RJ-45, HDMI, and USB connectors, as well as an audio-out jack for connecting to external speakers. Although lower-priced wireless adapters, such as the $249InFocus LiteShow II, are available, most don't include as many connectivity options as the WMS 200 does.
I tested a shipping version. I connected the WMS 200 to anNEC NP100 projectorvia the latter's included VGA cable, and then used a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop (a Dell Inspiron 1520) to wirelessly transmit a variety of PowerPoint presentations, digital photos, and video clips (MPEG-1/2/4 and Microsoft WMV9 files are the only video formats supported). All in all, I found that the WMS 200 transmitted fine-quality images with sharp text and colorful graphics, its results matching up well against the display quality of projectors with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities (typically, such models cost a thousand dollars or more). But I also encountered some stumbling blocks that detracted from the WMS 200's overall ease of use.
For the WMS 200 receiver to work with your laptop, you must first install the bundled software, Presto WMS 3 FE (Full Edition). The software is relatively easy to configure and use, but it supports only Windows XP. Though NewSoft includes a less full-featured software utility called Presto WMS 3 SE for Windows Vista users, that app handles transmission of screen images only, not motion video. Another limitation, under both XP and Vista, is that the WMS 200 receiver sends sound when transmitting videos but not when sending single images. If you have multimedia slide shows, you won't be able to wirelessly broadcast music or sound effects with your presentation.
One feature that distinguishes the WMS 200 from most lower-priced wireless projector adapters is its built-in USB 2.0 port, which you can use for transmitting presentations directly from the receiver to the projector. Unfortunately, figuring out exactly how to apply this feature proved frustrating, since it isn't well explained in the included guide or the online help. Only after contacting NewSoft technical support did I learn that the software CD has another utility for converting PowerPoint slide shows and videos into a format that the receiver can read off a USB flash drive. Insert an appropriately formatted flash drive into the USB port, and the receiver automatically displays a presentation or video clip without needing a PC.
I also tried NewSoft's $45 Presto WMS S/W USB, a 512MB USB 2.0 flash drive that contains mobile versions of the Presto WMS 3 FE and Presto WMS 3 SE applications. The advantage in using this flash drive: You don't have to install the software CD prior to using the WMS 200 system. Instead, you can run the WMS application you want directly from the USB drive attached to your laptop, and immediately begin to transmit your show. You also can easily share the USB drive with other people who might want to display images from their own Wi-Fi-enabled notebooks wirelessly during a meeting.
If you don't already own a projector, investing in one with wireless capabilities would be worth the extra cost. But if your existing model doesn't support wireless, the WMS 200 Video is a good way to add such capabilities to a projector--although improved Windows Vista support and more-thorough documentation would make it a better deal.