Wireless digital cable TV
By Elizabeth Kricfalusi, Tech for Luddites
Note: The information below relates to the Nyrius models available in the U.S. Model availability, price and features may differ in other locations.
With wireless being the norm for so many of our electronic devices today, it’s pretty surprising to me that the standard way to connect a cable box to your TV is still with physical cables. And the surprise turns into annoyance when I want to put a TV in a room where I don’t have a cable outlet.
I had this situation when I bought my current house. I wanted to put a TV in my living room but there was no outlet there and neither option for putting one in—running the wires along the ceiling and floorboards inside the house or running them over the roof on the outside—was desirable.
Note: I’m using the term “cable” to mean any provider of TV services, including satellite and telecom companies.
Fortunately, after doing some research, I found the Nyrius 6-Channel Wireless Audio/Video Transmitter & Receiver System, which sends the cable signal wirelessly from the cable box in my bedroom to my living room TV. Since then, I’ve upgraded my system from the GS3200 model, which has a single input and doesn’t carry HD signals, to the Aries Home+ model, which does support HD and has two inputs.
The value of the second input is that you can use these same devices to transmit signals wirelessly from other types of audio and video equipment as well, e.g. DVD/Blu-ray players, streaming media devices, music systems, gaming consoles, etc. I have my transmitter set up with the cable box as one input and a Roku streaming player as the other.
Note: These systems can also be useful even if you have them in the same room as your TV, but connecting devices with a cable isn’t ideal, e.g. if the TV is mounted on the wall.
Nyrius Wireless A/V System Features
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- ARIES Home+ Wireless HDMI 2-Input Transmitter & Receiver for Streaming HD 1080p 3D Video. This is the model I have with the two HDMI inputs. It also has a loop-through feature, which lets you connect it to one TV with an HDMI cable and to another TV wirelessly so you can use the same video devices on both sets. (Note that if you’re using it with a cable box, both TVs will have to play the same channel). And there’s a remote control that lets you switch between the inputs without having to unplug anything.
- ARIES Home Wireless HDMI Digital Transmitter & Receiver for HD 1080p Video Streaming. This is similar to the Home+ model except it only has a single input and it doesn’t have the loop-through feature. So if you wanted to connect your cable box to two TVs, you’d need to connect the box’s HDMI out port to the wireless transmitter to send the signal to the TV in a different room and use one of the other connection cables (HDMI, coaxial, RCA composite, etc.) to connect to the TV near the cable outlet.
- NY-GS3200 5.8GHz 6-Channel Wireless Audio/Video Transmitter & Receiver System. This was the first model I bought. It has a single input and uses composite cables (red/white/yellow plugs) to connect to your A/V device. It has six channels so if you have multiple devices transmitting wireless signals, you can change the channel to avoid interference. You can also get additional receivers to connect to additional TVs.
- NY-GS10 5.8GHz 4-Channel Wireless Audio/Video Transmitter & Receiver System. This model is similar to the GS3200 except it only has four channels instead of six, which may be fine for you if you don’t have a lot of devices in your home that could interfere with the signal.
The IR Extender
One of the questions that comes up a lot with these types of systems is how do you control A/V devices from another room (e.g. change the channel on your cable box)? That’s where the IR extender comes in.
The IR extender is a thin cable that plugs into the Nyrius transmitter and has one or more small blocks on it. You position the block close to and in front of the device’s infrared light (hence “IR”). Then when you point the device’s own remote at the Nyrius receiver unit, which is connected to the IR extender, you can operate the device just as if you were pointing the remote at it directly.
The extender can be rather finicky and if I couldn’t get it to work at a particular time, I used to have to go change the channel in the room where the box was. Now, however, I have an app for my phone that I can use as a remote so I don’t even bother with the extender. My current provider is Comcast Xfinity, but I imagine most of the major cable companies also provide apps to control their boxes now as well.
My Two Cents
When I got my first system, I immediately fell in love with it. I had no problems with the signal, even going through multiple walls and doors and the picture was really clear and stable. At one point, when I switched from Comcast to Verizon FIOS, I moved the box to my basement, which also has an outlet, and sent the signal from there—also without problems. The only time there was any issue was when someone was walking across the line the signal was traveling and the picture would break up a little. But since that person was usually me, it wasn’t really a problem since if I was walking, I wasn’t watching TV… 🙂
But then when I switched back to Comcast (don’t ask!) I originally only set up the bedroom outlet and so I had to bring the Nyrius transmitter back up there as well. Only this time I found it harder to get a clear signal. Likewise, when I got the HD model, I had more difficulty getting the units to pair with each other and I would also lose the signal at some points. I’m not sure what caused these issues as there were several variables involved: different cable provider, different box manufacturer, closeness to my wireless router, things changing between my bedroom and my living room that may have had an impact, etc…
Then I decided to activate my basement outlet again (mainly so I could move my router down there and get those freakin’ flashing lights out of my bedroom!) and I put the HD transmitter down there to see what would happen. Lo and behold, I had no trouble pairing the units. And so far (fingers crossed) the signal seems to be holding steady.
So all that to say that I once again have a system I’m extremely happy with—the picture and sound quality from the HD model is excellent—but there’s really no way to know if it’s going to work with your own setup until you try it out yourself.
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Nyrius ARIES Home+ (HD, 2 inputs)
Nyrius ARIES Home (HD, 1 input)
Nyrius NY-GS3200 (Non-HD, 6 channels)
Nyrius NY-GS10 (Non-HD, 4 channels)
|Nyrius ARIES Home+ (HD, 2 inputs)||Nyrius ARIES Home+ (HD, 2 inputs)|
You can also purchase the units directly from Nyrius, as well as other models, extra receivers, and recommended accessories.
Setting up the Nyrius systems is super easy. You just plug the device you want to watch into the transmitter with the appropriate cables and plug the receiver into your TV with the same.
The non-HDMI models have antennas that you adjust so they’re pointing towards each other and little switches so you can select a different channel if you’re experiencing signal interference.