Plextor Wireless Projector Adapter

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Product: PX-PA15AW Wireless Projector Adapter
Provided By: Plextor America
Price: $329CDN MSRP

Introduction:

The world around us changes so fast when it comes to technology.  There was a day all Plextor made was CD-ROM drives.  Times changed and CD-RW drives came into the mix.  Next there were DVD-ROM and DVD-RW drives.  Then Plextor switched gears and released video capture equipment, network attached storage products and shock proof hard drives.  Plextor has kept evolving as they have now released a wireless projector adapter and added this new product to their line.  Plextor recently offered the wireless projector adapter to us for a review and after about two seconds of thought I agreed.

The Whole Bundle
The Whole Bundle

I really didn't know what to expect with this unit as I'd never seen a wireless projector adapter before.  The bundle is fairly basic as you can see above.  It includes the projector adapter itself, a power cord, software CD and some documentation.  We'll go into detail on setup, usage and more as we continue.

Closer Look:

The projector adapter is quite small and should fit nicely beside your projector without any trouble.  The wireless antenna is pretty standard and should give you up to 100M range under ideal conditions.

PX-PA15AW - Side
 PX-PA15AW - Side

PX-PA15AW - Back
 PX-PA15AW - Back

PX-PA15AW - Front
 PX-PA15AW - Front

The back side of the PX-PA15AW is a little interesting.  It features the VGA output connector the power connector and an Ethernet jack.  At first I was pretty excited to see the Ethernet as I thought you could run this unit wired if you needed additional bandwidth.  After reading the documentation, I found out that the Ethernet port is for configuring the device only - not for streaming video to the projector.  The front side of the adapter is very basic.  Plextor has used this space to attach the antenna and implement the power button.  That being said lets take a look at the specifications of this unit as ripped from Plextor's site.

Specifications

Network Standards :  IEEE 802.11 a/b/g and Ethernet
Bandwidth 802.11a: GHz - 802.11 b/g: 2.4 GHz
Channels 802.11 b/g: US & Canada: 11, Europe:13, Japan:14
Transmission rate 802.11 a/g: up to 54 Mbps - 802.11b: up to 11 Mbps
Transmission Range 802.11a: 20~30M Depends on environment
802.11b/g: 50~100M Depends on environment
Antenna 2.4 ~ 2.4835, 5.15 ~, 5.25, 5.725 ~ 5.825 GHz
Operation temperature 32º~104º F
Operation humidity 10º~85 %, Non-condensing
Power Consumption USA & Taiwan: 5V, 1 A Europe: 5 V, 1.7 A
Connectors D-Sub 15 pin, RJ-45
Status indicators Power on
Dimension(W/H/D) 4.57 in x 3.13 in x 1.03 in.
Weight 0.42 lbs
Management Protocol Web-based utility
Graphics Resolution 800x 600, 1024 x 768
Color Depth 16-bit / 24- bit / 32- bit
Security mechanism 64 / 128 bit WEP
Frame rate Up to 15 FPS

Minimum System Requirements

CPU Pentium® III 800MHz or equivalent (minimum)
RAM 256 MB
Hard Disk Space 500 MB of available
  WLAN 802.11 a/b/g or b/g card with Infrastructure/ Ad-hoc mode support (embedded or card bus)

 

As we head on to the next page we'll take a look at software installation and do some setup of this unit.


Software & Setup:

The software CD that Plextor has thrown into the box really only holds the software required to send video over a TCP/IP connection to the PX-PA15AW.

Bundled Software

As you can see above, there is also documentation included but the biggest and main thing you'll be looking for is the software to go wireless with your projector.  Once you've installed the software you will be prompted to reboot and this will be required to carry on.

You must plug the Wireless Projector Adapter into power and into your projector and you're almost ready to go.  Next, fire up the Presto! WMS 2.5 that controls the device and choose your wireless network, then you can simply press play and start to clone your computer display.

Select Network
Select Network

Press Play
Press Play

To get the wireless projector adapter working is really as simple as that.  However, if you're like me and want to know how this device works and how to tweak it, keep on reading.

 

As we take a look into the settings we gain a greater understanding of how this device works and how to make it work a little better on your system.  When we click the wrench icon to adjust the software settings we are greeting with the following options.

Quality bit
 Quality bit

Resolution
 Resolution

WEP-able
WEP-able

The PX-PA15AW defaults at 1024x768 at 16-bit color depth.  By default there is no WEP enabled on this connection.  If you don't need the screen size you can drop down the resolution to a speedy 800x600 and most older projectors will work fine at this resolution.

So just how does the Plextor Wireless Projector Adapter work with your wireless network?  I thought it may detect the available wireless network, get an IP and be ready to go, but the more I thought about that, the more I realized that this wouldn't work in a situation where there is no existing wireless network.  To see what is going on, we fired up the software and then checked our network properties.

New Network
New Network

Network IP
 Network IP

As you can see by clicking the thumbnails above, when you fire up the software, a new network is created and connected to by your computer.  The default network name is "WMS100-IMAGE".  The IP of this network puzzled me at first.  I thought that perhaps I wasn't connected properly as my computer IP was 169.254.167.146 as you can see in the image above on the right.  Everything worked fine however, and this IP range and network name will help you not interfere with other networks if you are using this device at a conference where there are many other wireless networks and clients.

So far we've only gone through some software setup, but there is also some hardware setup available if you connect an Ethernet cable to your computer and the PX-PA15AW.  On the next page we'll take a look at some hardware setup.


Hardware Setup:

To set up more features and options you can directly connect your computer to the PX-PA15AW using a network cable.  You will have to manually set your network IP to a 192.168.168.x IP and then open a web browser and connect to the device at 192.168.168.30.  You will be greeted by a login page and must enter the username and password to continue.

Once you're "inside" of the device, the first screen that you'll see is a General and LAN Status page.  There is also a WLAN status page as well.  These give you the lowdown on what is going on, and how the adapter is set up.

General Status
 General Status

WLAN Status
 WLAN Status

Once you've taken a look at the status you can head into the Set-Up section and actually change the default network SSID, Network Type, Authentication Mode, Channel, and Transmit Rate and even add or remove support for 802.11a/b/g networks.  If you are still a believer in WEP security, you can choose to enable it and set up your keys as well.

WLAN Setup
 WLAN Setup

Security Setup
 Security Setup

Almost every way you want to customize the setup of the PX-PA15AW is possible either through the software setup on the previous page or by directly setting up the hardware as just mentioned above.  This device will be very functional across many different situations.

Wireless Projecting:

So you've just purchased the Projector Adapter and you take it to a meeting where other people would like to use it as well.  The problem is, you don't have internet directly available and other people don't have the software installed.  The beauty of the PX-PA15AW is that the software can be downloaded directly from the projector adapter itself.  You will have to connect an Ethernet cable to the device itself, but inside the web-based control panel is a download link for the software.  Although you will need a key to get it working fully, you have the software available.

Onboard Software
Onboard Software

 

A wireless network is capable of transmitting large amounts of data, but Plextor states that the PX-PA15AW can only produce "Up To 15FPS".  This is not due to the network speed, but rather the processor that converts the wireless signal to actual video.  For PowerPoint and some animations the wireless projector adapter did a fantastic job.  If you're dreaming of wirelessly broadcasting video, fast animations or Winamp visualizations, you'll be a little disappointed.  The device cannot play back video smoothly even when you choose 800x600 and 16-bit color.

That being said, I cannot fault the product for this.  Plextor claims it can only do 15FPS and it can certainly achieve that.  For video playback to look smooth you need at least 25FPS and better still 30FPS.

Clone Without Wires

Conclusion:

The PX-PA15AW does everything that Plextor claims and does it so easily that virtually anyone can figure it out.  You don't have to be a computer geek or a tech-head to make this work.  Plug in into your projector and fire up the software.  Done.  I applaud Plextor for ensuring that you'll always have the software available by storing in on the Projector Adapter itself.  Although in some ways I'm a little disappointed with the low FPS of this unit as I can't stream video to the projector, I'll admit that my expectations were higher than the products specs.

Pros:

  • Wireless Projector Adapter for Everyone!
  • Very simple to set up and use.
  • Video quality equals direct connect video.
  • Supports 802.11a/b/g network.

Cons:

  • 15FPS is a little slow for some applications.
  • Only 3 Keys are provided for 3 users to connect to the device.

Overall, we were quite impressed in this unit.  I've already had quite a few people interested in this product as I've shown it around a fair bit.  If you are planning on a big presentation and can't run 100' VGA cable to a projector, you can't go wrong with this unit. 

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
7/10
Software Pack:
10/10
Stability:
10/10
Features:
8/10
Value:
8/10
Total Score 8.8

 

I'd like to send a special thanks to Plextor for sending this unit up to us.  I have a meeting that I really needed it for and they were happy to send it up for us to test out and use.

If you have any comments, questions or feedback regarding this article, please feel free to post in at the comments link below.