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No, it’s not a yogurt that makes your Mac, um, run more smoothly. But McTiVia could dramatically improve how much you enjoy your Mac by wirelessly beaming your Mac’s display to your TV. There’s a catch or two, but just take a moment to think about how awesome it’d be to slap your OS X Desktop on your big screen and watch videos, surf, or even check email while your Mac hums away efficiently in another room.
Impressively, McTiVia can pull that off for up to eight Macs or PCs at a time. You connect this router-like black box to your TV via HDMI, then install its lean display-mirroring software back on your computer. The manual emphatically warns that connecting the McTiVia to your computer via an Ethernet cable will provide the best performance, and while that makes perfect sense, it causes a momentary logical disconnect. After all, if you can run Ethernet from your Mac to a McTiVia that’s wired to your TV, why wouldn’t you instead run video cables directly to the TV and save about $200?
McTiVia looks like a router, but it has much cooler tricks up its sleeve.
Fortunately, the McTiVia runs smoothly over Wi-Fi--if you set it up properly. At first, we used AirPort to connect directly to the McTiVia, and the extreme lag and stuttering made the Mac unusable even when simply moving around the cursor. Next, we used the McTiVia’s AP-Client Mode to connect it to an 802.11n Wi-Fi router that was wired to our Mac via Ethernet, and suddenly, the problems vanished. And we have to say, using our TV as a 58-inch monitor is cool enough to be worth the effort. Add in a wireless keyboard and mouse, and you can comfortably control your Mac from the couch.
A few other caveats apply. The McTiVia only supports HDMI 1.2 output, and the primary downside of that is no Dolby or DTS surround sound. Also, when you activate the McTiVia’s app, which mirrors your display on your TV, the picture back on your regular monitor gets pretty funky. That’ll restore just fine when you stop streaming to McTiVia, though your applications’ windows will be resized and messily rearranged. Lastly, you’ll need to use the McTiVia’s Projection Quality, PC Screen Resolution, and TV Offset Compensation options to make OS X look right on your TV, but those are quick chores.
The bottom line. Physical cables still work better and cost way less than the McTiVia’s $200 price tag. But if your Mac and TV can’t be connected that way -- and if you have a wireless-N router -- the McTiVia’s a wonderful way to put OS X on your big screen.
2.0GHz dual core Intel CPU or better; Mac OS 10.5 or later; Nvidia or ATI graphics card with 64MB VRAM or better; for wireless, 802.11n router
Wirelessly connects up to eight computers to your TV!
Connection via AirPort isn’t usable. Somewhat expensive, yet doesn’t include HDMI cable. A bit fiddly to set up and use.