If you want, or need to view your PC screen on your television, whether its for sharing photo’s, or watching video, the Honestech nScreen could just help you do it. And with an iPad and Android app too, it’s qualities sound appealing. So let’s see how it performs.
A Quality First Impression
First impressions of the nScreen are good – the box is high quality and well-printed and has a smooth tactile feel that you often get with high-end handheld devices.
The top of the box lifts off to reveal the media sender device, an installation CD, and very brief instructions (a quick start guide was missing from our review version but is normally included). The device itself is a smart looking and compact unit, roughly 140mm x 85mm, and quite lightweight. The rear of the device has an on/off button, a USB port, an Ethernet and HDMI socket.
Because of the lack of instructions in our review version we had to rely on common sense to get it connected – but there is not a great deal you can get wrong initially. Simply connect the device to your television either by the included HDMI cable or Component cable, and plug in the power lead.
Your PC Screen on your TV Screen
We then installed the software on the laptop and followed the simple on-screen instructions. We were up and running quickly and it wasn’t long before we were using the device to project the laptop screen to the television. We had to go through an automatic screen resolution screen change in the process, but apart from this it was pretty smooth. The quality was okay – not as sharp as if we’d plugged the laptop to the television directly, but acceptable nonetheless.
So far, so good then. The PC software allows you to either use you to either project your screen to the television, or send audio, video and photographs to the screen using the built-in players. We had less success with this unfortunately. Sending audio and photos through the device was relatively painless although it was a shame that the album art could not be displayed as the onscreen wallpaper was pretty ugly. Sending video was more tricky mainly due to the limited amount of file types the device supports. The ones we did try looked okay – although some of the quality was lost in the process.
The software is a little clunky though – it looked dated and was not particularly easy to follow but functionally it was okay, which is the main thing really. For the price, and following the good first impressions I expected something slicker though.
An alternative to Apple TV for your iPad?
Next thing to try was the Honestech iPad app and I was interested to see how this stacked up against the Apple TV.
Viewing photos was relatively painless – although the app required you to tick every image you want to display through the device – there is no ‘select all’ option so it’s a tedious task.
Listening to or watching iTunes content was much more difficult though and involves a more complicated set up. You have to connect the iPad device to the computer, sync it if not already done, and then associate iTunes files with the Honestech app in order for them to play.Even then, we had real trouble playing anything and ended up giving up – it was much more difficult than it needed to be.
One of the main problems with the device is that you need to connect to the nScreen Wi-Fi network to use the device. This is okay in theory but it would be easier to not have to switch networks every time. The other downside is that you cannot stream internet content (from YouTube for example) at the same time because you are connected to the nScreen Wi-Fi and not your main broadband Wi-Fi.
There are ways around this, and Honestech provide some guides on their website to help you do it, but in all honestly, we’d given up on the device by then. The more patient among you could have more success but it all seemed like too much effort to achieve something that is easier to do in other ways.
What to consider…
The nScreen does need some patience, especially if you using the iPad app. We weren’t overly impressed with the set up, and the clunky software, and for the money, we can’t help but think it would be better spent elsewhere. If you just after iPad connectivity, the cheaper Apple TV is far superior. If you’re wanting more flexibility than this, the nScreen is worth a look but it will be worthwhile considering other ways to achieve your goals before you shell out for this device.
Why you should buy the Honestech nScreen Delux
Despite our reservations about the nScreen, we do have hope for it. The device had already received a number of software updates which have improved things a little, and if Honestech continue to enhance the PC software and the iPad apps we’re sure a lot of the shortcomings could be ironed out. Until that time, we can’t really recommend the nScreen and it’s better to go with something else. Rating: /5