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In hindsight, I should have purchased a Windows 7 laptop with WiDi. If you don’t know what WiDi is, it is similar to AirPlay, but even better. Intel provided some marketing around its launch, but many people have forgotten. It is a technology, embedded in the CPU of Intel processors, that allows Windows 7 laptops to display their screen on an HDTV in 1080p quality! It only works with certain Intel based laptops (not desktops) that run Windows 7. You need a receiver box, which hooks up to your HDTV via HDMI. They are inexpensive — about $50 nowadays. In fact, you can get a nice Toshiba laptop, with a 640 GB hard drive, 6 GB of RAM (yes, it runs 64-bit Windows Home Premium), and a WiDi box for $550. That’s about $250 less than my iPad 2 and Apple TV, but has ten times the functionality! Indeed, a Win 7 laptop would allow, not only Hulu (plus or free), Netflix, and iTunes… but also Amazon and pretty much anything else. A Windows 7 laptop can also do things an iPad cannot, such as providing a full web browsing experience.
WiDi can do some pretty amazing things with screen mirroring. With a downloadable widget from Intel, you can pipe your media to your TV, while you continue to use your laptop — a split display. Indispensable if someone else wants to watch a movie while you are working. There are remote controls for Win 7 — beyond the basic circle and two buttons that Apple offers. If you can get audio and video on your flat screen TV, you can do anything with Windows 7. It is even a superior music playing experience. When you play music from an iPad to Apple TV, all you get is the album cover. It cannot run the visualizer. WiDi can.
WiDi was around before AirPlay. WiDi was announced in January of 2010, and AirPlay (expanding on audio-only AirTunes) was announced in September 2010. Let’s get the record straight before Apple fanboys cry “copy cat”. Indeed, many things are copied from Apple, but Apple copies others. WiDi did 1080p from the get-go. AirPlay’s 1080p functionality is only a few weeks old.
I have given up on using my iPad 2 and Apple TV 2 as a media system. It just doesn’t work well. Even the basics, like playing music from the iPad to Apple TV has crashed several times since the last round of updates. See? It just DOESN’T WORK. Their quality has gone downhill. The inventor of the iPod can’t deliver a proper music listening experience with the iPad and Apple TV. I guess if you use headphones, it may work OK. In support groups, Apple fans have blamed my router, but I have a brand new Airport Extreme, with the latest firmware. (continue…)