What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 24 Jan 2008, 4:00pm

Pinnacle ShowCenter 250

Tested at £170
80100
4

A great way to get standard-def video and audio from your PC to your TV, but falls down when it comes to HD

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For

  • Easy to use
  • impressive with wireless audio and standard definition video

Against

  • Doesn’t stream high def convincingly
  • ugly remote control

The race is on! Manufacturers are busting a gut to help you get your high-definition video off your computer and onto your flatscreen television.

The ShowCentre 250HD aims to do exactly that, with the added bonus of doing it wirelessly.

This cable-free approach is the key selling point as far as we are concerned, as it allows you to keep your computer in a separate room to your TV, and only have this small silver box beneath the screen.

The ShowCentre connects to the TV via Scart or component (for HD video), and has line level, coaxial and optical digital outs for audio.

Mixed results with wi-fi
However, the results we got were mixed. As part of a fully wired system, streaming high-def was a joy, with highly impressive detail and excellent colour balance. But try and stream it wirelessly, and it all goes wrong. It's not so much HD video you get as a series of, admittedly very pretty, high-res images that jerk from one to the next.

With standard definition, the results didn't suffer from the switch from wired to wireless very much at all, and were consistently good.

The same was true with streaming audio, with MP3 files being delivered with convincing clarity via a hi-fi system, making for a very pleasurable listen indeed.

Keep it cabled for HD happiness
If you're happy with wires, then this system is a great way of bringing your computer's video and audio files to your main system. But if wireless access to high-def video is what you're after, then think again.

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