Getting content, especially media, from the PC to the TV is a problem with many potential solutions, none of them perfect. Media extenders, including wireless models such as the D-Link MediaLounge DSM-520, have their own proprietary menu systems and often are limited in the kinds of media files they'll transmit (try streaming a protected iTunes file, and you'll see what we mean). The more specific subgroup of Media Center Extenders, for use with Windows Media Center, at least offer the familiar MCE interface, but they are even more limited in some ways: wireless Media Center extenders generally won't play videos other than WMV files.
Instead of bothering with that, GrandTec promises to simply take your video and audio output and send it via a 2.4GHz wireless transmission to any TV. On the surface, that sounds like a good idea, especially combined with the box copy, which promises S-Video, composite, and VGA outputs, but once you delve into the actual hardware, the real story is somewhat less impressive.
The GrandTec Ultimate Wireless consists of two parts: a base unit and a receiver. The base unit is actually a capable video transcoder, taking standard VGA signals and outputting them as composite, 9-pin RGB (useful for European SCART connections) or S-Video signals. But to take advantage of those outputs, you'll need to connect your TV directly to the wired base unit. If you want to take advantage of the included wireless receiver, you'll be stuck with a single composite video output (that's the standard old yellow cable that many still use to hook up everything from DVD players to PlayStations). The wireless receiver also supports stereo audio connections.
In today's high-definition world, a composite video connection is not going to give you the video quality users expect. But for throwing a basic signal across a room or a house (the reported range is 150 feet), the quick-and-dirty signal may suffice for watching Web-based videos or surfing the Net. The composite output can also be sent to a VCR or a video camera for easy recording of the PC's video output. GrandTec also offers a full-resolution VGA wireless device, albeit one that retails for $999, according to the company's Web site.
Unfortunately, budget parts keep the GrandTec Ultimate Wireless from living up to even that modest potential. You get your signal into the transmitter by using an included VGA Y-cable. Because the Y-cable is unpowered, you're essentially splitting the signal from your PC's VGA output (or DVI output, if you use a DVI-to-VGA adapter, which is not included), and that degrades the visual quality of both signals. Therefore, your pass-though signal to the computer monitor becomes fuzzy, and the wireless signal is likewise degraded. If your video card has multiple video outputs, you could send one to your monitor and the other to the bas unit, which would solve that particular problem.
Plugging the composite cable from our TV directly into the base unit produced a better picture than the wireless signal. We were able to improve the wireless signal by moving the base unit and the receiver and by switching between the four transmission channels, controlled by tiny dip switches on both units. Video quality was essentially the same when the base unit and the wireless receiver were placed 2 feet apart or 30 feet apart, but when we moved the base unit to a PC several rooms away, the signal was overpowered by static. A menu button on the base unit lets you scroll through brightness, contrast, and other settings, but the actual effect on the image quality was nearly imperceptible. In contrast, audio quality was good throughout, even as the video quality waxed and waned.
Technically, the GrandTec Ultimate Wireless performed largely as advertised, but the signal quality is mediocre at best, and the video output limitations mean that only a very small subset of users with very specific needs will find this product useful.