A video sender transmits video and sound from one room to another, so can be used to re-broadcast the signal from a roof or loft aerial, cable or satellite that feeds your main TV to TVs in other rooms. Bear in mind though that if you have just one digital tuner in your set up, all the TVs have to receive the same channel.
Our tests of three video senders, priced around £40, £50 and £60, showed all worked fine in a small or medium sized house. We recommend the mid-priced AEI DigiSender Plug’n’Go Mkll, £48.89 from Argos, with well tucked away electronics, ready to use SCART connections, and although it used a SCART it provided one too for another connection.
AEI DigiSender Plug'n'Go Mk11
Video senders are worth considering if:
- you cannot get decent reception to your second or third TV from a set top box or other digital product with indoor aerials
- you don’t often watch the secondary TVs so you certainly don’t want to run extension cables up to the back bedrooms
- you already pay a subscription for cable or satellite TV and do not want to pay more for their multi-room extensions.
If members of your household regularly watch different TVs at the same time, you need to have an extra digital tuner in the mix – an iDTV and digital TV recorder, for example, instead of an ordinary main TV and set top box. Then a video sender can be connected to the DTR which can be tuned to one channel, while the iDTV is tuned to a different channel.
It can be a cost effective solution for extra TVs with a satellite or cable set up. The costs are closer with terrestrial TV. Going for the cheapest kit, compare a £40 video sender with a basic set top box at £20 and our best performing indoor aerial at £15. See our set top box recommendations and indoor aerial recommendations for help choosing those.
Using a video sender
It has two main parts – a transmitter and a receiver – that look similar to each other. (You can buy extra receivers for extra TVs for around £30.) Both run on mains electricity but transmit using high frequency radio signals, so you do not have to run extension cables around the house.
All video senders transmit back the digital box remote control signals. This means you can take the set top box remote control with you to the second TV and switch on or off and change channel on the digital box from there. In a simple, one digital tuner set up this would also control the main TV. If you have two or more digital tuners, tuned to different channels – say an iDTV and digital TV recorder – they could each be controlled by their own remote.
You would normally connect the transmitter not to the main TV but to the digital box that converts it – a set top box or digital TV recorder – and the receiver to the TV in another room. If your main TV is an iDTV without any recorder, DVD player or whatever, connecting the transmitter to it means leaving the iDTV on when you want to watch just the second TV.
Connecting a video sender will use up a SCART socket on a digital box. If you don’t have a spare SCART socket, you will need a video sender with a feed through SCART. The medium priced AEI DigiSender we tested had the SCART plug used for the transmitter and a matching SCART socket on its back for another product.
Setting up a video sender is fairly easy but, as with an indoor aerial, you might need to spend some time finding the best locations for the transmitter and receivers. You also need to be pretty able and confident about connecting things up, mostly using SCART connections. If you can, check out the instructions before you buy. Look for good clear diagrams and logical, step by step guidance – less likely to be available with the cheapest products.
We got bad interference to start with when installing both lower priced video senders – maybe from next door’s Wi-Fi network. This is because these and most work at the 2.4 GHz band of frequencies, like many digital devices. But you can usually avoid this problem because video senders offer a choice of three or four channels in the 2.4GHz band. Also newer models use a higher frequency (5.8GHz) than other digital products.
We have found video senders work fine in small and medium sized houses or up to two walls apart. Beyond these you are more likely to get interference and a fading picture as you walk across a room – you will need to position the sender and receivers really carefully. This was true of the £60 video sender we tested. It used 5.8GHz and there was less interference from other Wi-Fi networks or devices, but it needed some adjusting to get a clean picture and was a bit prone to fading if you walked near the transmitter.
The picture and sound on the extra TVs will not be quite as good as on your main TV, but the picture should be OK and the quality drop less noticeable on a smaller screen TV – up to a 26 inch. This is because most video senders transmit lower composite video quality instead of better RGB quality [Read an explaination of "video sender" on the jargon buster]. Sound quality should also be fine, though you might notice some background hiss when it is played back through good quality loudspeakers.