Equipment Review No. 3  -  May 2003

Terk WaveMaster 30 Wireless A/V System
$100

Terk Technologies
63 Mall Drive
Commack, NY 11725
800-942-TERK
http://www.terk.com

Basic Description

Wireless Audio/Video transmitter that sends picture and sound via 2.4GHz frequency to up to 100 feet; 4 adjustable RF channels; Infrared repeater and mini flasher included; Accepts composite video and 2 channel analog audio and outputs or via modulated F-type coaxial connection; 1 year warranty; transmitter and receiver dimensions 4.8” (+cable depth) x 7” (width) x 7” (height with antenna fully extended).


Associated Equipment

Krell DVD Standard, Marantz 55” Television, Toshiba 24” Television, Dish Network 4900 Receiver, included cables.

Setup

The manual diagrams just about every hookup that is possible with the Wavemaster. Having had previous experience with older Wavecom products, I felt I could connect the units without reading through 20 pages. In fact, reading through the manual might be a daunting task for some of the prospective users of the Wavemaster. There are a transmitter and receiver that are clearly labeled as such. The package includes a basic set of audio/video cable for both units and a coaxial cable for the receiving end if necessary. I chose to use the supplied a/v cables. The cables are about as basic as cables go. They are barely three feet, and it might be necessary to get longer lengths to get the Wavemaster up and running.

In both systems that I tested, the supplied cable lengths were fine. Both systems were in completely different locales (i.e., not in the same residence). I tried the supplied IR flasher in order to operate both the DVD and satellite receiver remotely—a nice feature available on this product.


System #1

In the first system, the transmitter and receiver were located approximately 40’ away from each other. Immediately after connection, I was able to get an acceptable image with sound. Twisting the flat antenna seemed to alter reception quality. Physical position of the unit also had a large effect. Moving the receiver by only a few inches often meant the difference between a good picture and one that was unacceptable. Locating the unit higher up didn’t always give a better picture. I found that a floor location actually worked very well and I left the receiver there for this part of the evaluation.

Occasionally, there was interference in the video that included fine scrolling lines and/or fuzziness. People moving around the unit, close to it, or touching it would affect a change in performance. Overall, the picture was not of DVD quality, but most of the time proved to be better than videotape--it was a little soft and fuzzy and grainy at times. When there was interference the picture would break up slightly. There was occasional crackling with the audio, but not really enough to bother me. Further fiddling would most likely have eliminated this problem.

At first, I couldn’t get the IR to work, but then I realized that the flasher had fallen off. Once it was properly affixed to the Krell DVD, I was able to change chapters and fast-forward through Charlie’s Angels.


System #2

Currently my home is under construction. I have a work out area that has been relegated to the garage and there is no way to get off air reception or a satellite signal easily. My interest in this product stemmed from the idea that I could send a signal from my living room (via satellite or videotape) to the garage and control one of these devices while I work out. The Terk website PDF on the Wavemaster indicates that the units will work “up to 150’.” The manual states “up to 100’.” This must be under optimal conditions, because the distance between the two units was probably about 90’, but I was unable to maintain acceptable image and sound. At one point, I got video and sound when I stepped away from the unit, but the sound kept crackling and had an extreme amount of interference. I twisted the antenna and I watched as the video improved and got worse. I then repeated this step at the transmission end and walked into the garage and watched as the reception got better and worse. No matter what I did, I was not able to get it to work to the point of satisfaction. The worst part was the IR would not operate under any circumstances. Even supposing I was okay with the image and sound, I was unable to change channels--a big limitation.


Conclusion

This product is all about convenience and a simple way to get audio and video signals from source components, video cameras, or even a computer to a remote location complete with infrared control. The literature on the Terk Wavemaster 30 promises that the “signal penetrates walls, doors, ceilings and floors for clear, reliable reception up to 100 feet away.” In some systems, this will be the case, but not necessarily. With smaller televisions, the quality of the signal (when it works) will be more than acceptable. The cost is clearly cheap in comparison with alternate solutions like hardwiring audio and video, IR control systems, or purchasing additional components. In the case of the Wavemaster, my recommendation is to purchase one from a store that will give you the option of return/credit in the case that the product doesn’t live up to your expectations. For my system, unfortunately, it did not.

- Brian Bloom big_brian_b@hotmail.com

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