Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter Review

Psywar gotdamojo06 - 2011-02-15 13:08:21 in Gadgets
Category: Gadgets
Reviewed by: Psywar   gotdamojo06   
Reviewed on: March 16, 2011
Price: $109.99

Introduction: 

Do you have a Netbook or a laptop sitting around at home that you have wanted to hook up to your HDTV in your living room so you can play videos off YouTube or Hulu? Maybe you even have an older computer that only has an Analog or DVI output for a display device, but you would like to begin transferring it into an HTPC of sorts, but have no idea where to start? Well there is a simple solution from Diamond Multimedia that is going to turn one of your USB ports on your computer into an HDMI output that is going to give you full 1080p video output, as well as audio transfer. This device is called the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter. Basically what this device is going to do for you is convert the video signal from your computer, use your CPU as a GPU and output the video signal to the adapter via a USB port that will then transfer the signal to your display device via an HDMI cable. I am very curious to see exactly how well this product works as well as what all I am going to be able to do with it.

 

Closer Look: 

Taking a look at the front of the packaging, you are going to see the Diamond Multimedia logo in the top left hand corner of the package. You are also going to see the Plug-and-Play logo in the top right hand corner with a yellow star-shaped blurb letting you know that there is an HDMI cable included. The name of the product, USB PC to TV HDMI Video & Audio Adapter, is at the top of the package as well in white writing with a red banner behind it, making it stand out. There are a few of the features listed on the front of the package, such as letting you know it is going to add HDMI support with audio to your Netbook, Desktop. or Macbook.

The package is made out of plastic, which is going to showcase the actual product on the front instead of an image being printed on the packaging, so you are going to see the exact size of the unit as well as exactly what it looks like before you buy it and open it up. When you look at the back of the package, you are going to see a tag line written in red at the top, "The Hassle-Free Way to Connect Your Laptop to Your Flat Screen TV" which is a pretty good description of what the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter is going to do for you. There is a list of PC Requirements on the back as well as a list of MAC Requirements. Above that, you are going to see a short list of features with the disclaimer under it letting you know that you are only going to be able to attach one display per device and a maximum of six devices per system. When you open up the package, you are going to find an Installation CD, Documentation, the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter itself, a USB cord, as well as the HDMI cable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you get the Diamond PC USB to TV HDMI Adapter out of the packaging, you are going to first notice how nice of a shinny plastic coating is on it. However, it does seem to attract quite a lot of finger prints. On the top left hand corner of the top of the device, you are going to find the Diamond logo printed in white to make it stand out from the black casing color. There is a power button in the lower left hand corner to allow you to turn the device on and off if you wanted to disable it quickly and there is a power indicator light in the lower right hand corner with USB to HDMI Adapter printed above it. When you look at the right side of the device, this is where you are going to find the HDMI Out connection. The left hand side of the adapter is where you are going to find the USB input connection as well as a power adapter connection, it has DC 5V printed next to it, though there is no mention of a power adapter in the documentation and one is not included.

 

 

There are only two cables included and these two are the only ones needed for the Diamond PC USB to TV HDMI Adapter to properly function. They are an HDMI and a USB cable. The HDMI cable is a nice three foot cable, so you have a little bit of play room to hide the cable the way you do with the rest of your cables. The included USB cable is also three feet long, which should give you just enough length to connect the adapter to your computer sitting next to your TV.

 

 

Now that we know what the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter looks like, the next step is to take a look at what the software looks like.

Closer Look: 

DisplayLink

DisplayLink is the application software that is used by Diamond Multimedia's USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter to transfer the video signal though your USB port to the device that then transfers it though an HDMI cable to the display device, be it a monitor or TV. The DisplayLink Software is the only component of the DisplayLink solution that resides on your computer, the software playing a key part in making USB graphics devices possible. It has to work transparently so that your USB monitor appears the same as your DVI monitor to the operating system and all of your applications. It has to manage all of the display rendering which would normally be done by a dedicated GPU, while sharing the CPU with everything else you are doing at that point in time. It has to adapt both to the computer on which it is running as well as to use you are making of it. To do all this, the DisplayLink software has been developed to have the following features:

All Information courtesy of DisplayLink @ http://www.displaylink.com/displaylink_software.php

 

The DisplayLink software is basically what is going to be running your desktop when you use the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter on the software side of things. It is very simple and easy to setup and all you need to do is pop in the CD or download the drivers from the DisplayLink website and restart your computer once you are done. After the computer has been restarted and your desktop is back up, there is a new icon in your notification area that looks like a monitor with a yellow dot at the bottom. This the DisplayLink icon. The shortcut menu when you right click it, lists DisplayLink Manager, Check for updates, Optimize for Video, Fit to TV, and Advanced Configuration.

Clicking on the DisplayLink Manager or the Advanced Configuration links are going to open up the Screen Resolution screen under the Display Options in Windows. Here you are going to be able to adjust the Resolution, Orientation, and how the Multiple Displays are set up (Duplicate these displays, Extend these displays, Show desktop only on 1, and Show desktop only on 2). The maximum resolution that you are going to be able to set on the DisplayLink display is 1920x1080 (1080p). When you click the Check for Updates link, it is going to seem like nothing is happening, however the DisplayLink software is looking to see if your version is the most up to date version, and will display a balloon message letting you know it is if it is. 

 

Now that the DisplayLink software is set up, the next step is to look at the specifications and features then begin the testing.

Specifications: 

Model Number
BVU1000
USB
YES
Monitor
HDMI
1080P Support
Yes
BUS
USB 2.0
Dimension
3.8 x 3.2 x 0.7 Inches
Weight
0.15 LBS
Weight with Content
1.0 LBS
Warranty
1 year
Operating System Support
Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit)
Windows Vista (32 and 64 bit)
WindowsXP
Windows Media Center
Mac OS X

 

Features: 

 

 

 

All information courtesy of Diamond Multimedia @ http://www.diamondmm.com/BVU1000.php

Testing:

To properly test the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter, I am going to simply see if the device is going to give me any sort of video output and compare the picture quality that it is able to deliver to the picture quality that an internal video card is going to deliver. The next step is going to be comparing  the overall CPU usage and memory usage in the Windows Task Manager that is being used with an internal video card compared to the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter, while using a video stress tester, MSI Kombustor. I am also going to test to see if the Diamond adapter is going to be able to still display an output without a video card installed in the system. All of these tests are going to be using a Samsung 24" computer monitor that has HDMI input support. The final test that I am going to perform is connecting my Asus Eee 1000HE to the Diamond adapter and then to my TV in my living room and ensuring that I am going to be able to get surround sound and video display.
 

Testing Setup:

 

Picture Quality:

As I mentioned before, the first part of my testing is going to be comparing the picture quality that the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter gives compared to what the Diamond HD5570 is going to give. This testing showed that the display was identical, there was nothing that I was able to see in either display that was different from the other. I set the resolution to 1280x960 on both displays to see exactly how the desktop looked.  

 

            Diamond HD5570 @ 1280x960                               Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter @ 1280x960

 

System Resources:

The next testing that I performed on the Diamond adapter, was to simply run the MSI Kombustor GPU stress testing utility to put the graphics card to work with both the Diamond adapter being used for the display and also with the Diamond adapter turned off and the only graphics being displayed though the Diamond HD5570. I let the utility work for about 15 minutes during each run with the Windows Task Manager opened to watch the CPU Usage and the Memory Usage to see if there was going to be a noticeable difference between either display setup.  As you can see, there was a three percent difference in the CPU Usage and only a one percent difference in the Memory Usage when comparing the Diamond HD5570 internal graphics card to the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter. This is not very surprising to me as the USB adapter does need to process the graphics data, so it needs to be pushed off to the processor.

 

            Diamond HD5570 @ 1280x960                               Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter @ 1280x960

 

 

 

Stand-Alone Video Adapter:

The next testing up is going to be seeing if the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter is going to be able to display a video signal to my monitor with out an internal video card being installed in the system. To accomplish this, I am going to pull out the Diamond HD5570 video card from my system, while it is off of course, and restart the system with the monitor only being attached to the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter to see if I am going to get any sort of video display and try and make it into Windows. This unfortunately did not come out how I had hoped - when I pulled the video card out and tried to restart using just the Diamond PC USB to TV HDMI Adapter, I was unable to get any display on my monitor.

 

TV Hookup via Netbook:

One of the main features being advertised with the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter is giving your Netbook or Macbook the ability to connect to your Flat Screen TV via an HDMI cable. Well, the Netbook that I had is an ASUS Eee PC 1000HA which only comes with an analog display output for an external monitor. That is all fine and dandy if you are not planning on hooking it up to your TV, however if you wanted a quick and simple way to watch a video that is streaming over the internet, such as YouTube or Hulu, you are not going to be able to do that from the ASUS Eee PC 1000HA. That is where the Diamond adapter comes in. I will install the software on my Netbook and see how well it is able to connect to my setup in my living room. This did work perfectly, as I was able to install the software on the Eee PC and connect it to my Philips 42" Plasma TV in my living room and was able to watch a YouTube video from the Overclockersclub.com YouTube Channel (the video can be found here).

Conclusion:

After everything that I have looked at with the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter, I can say that it does do exactly what it is intended to do; provide a secondary display adapter for your computer via an HDMI cable over your USB 2.0 bus. This can be helpful if you are trying to connect your computer to a TV that only supports an HDMI input and you do not have an HDMI output on your video card, or maybe you are just using on-board graphics with an older setup.

The price of Diamond's adapter does hinder the usability of the device in an HTPC, however, if you are looking to use it on your Netbook or laptop to connect it to your TV as it's suggested usage is; the price is very competitive compared to the similar devices on the market.. When looking at getting this to add HDMI support to your HTPC, it costs just around $100 which can be quite steep when you could jump online and grab yourself a cheap graphics card such as the Diamond 5450 for $49 on Newegg.com. I do like the fact that the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter does give you a quick and simple way of adding a secondary display adapter to your PC that is going to not only giving you 1080p maximum resolution, but it is also going to giving you the ability to transfer an audio signal over the HDMI cable.

During the testing, I did see that the CPU Usage was about 3% higher when using the Diamond adapter when compared to using an internal graphics card and only 1% higher Memory Usage. The DisplayLink software that allows the Diamond adapter to work is very simple to install and get running, and does not have any extra GUI that you need to mess around with to get the display working properly - it will just emulate that there is a secondary graphics card installed and allow you to make your resolution changes though the Display Properties window in Windows.

I would suggest this to someone who does not want to go out and get a new video card to put into their system and have to worry about messing around with installing and uninstalling graphics drivers, or someone who needs to add another display to their computer but does not want to open up their system and void their warranty. The price point that the Diamond USB PC to TV HDMI Adapter comes at does seem a little steep to me, however it would be worth not voiding your warranty if that is the case.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: