A good wireless video solution should be easy and fast to set up and get running. In all honesty this shouldn’t be a difficult task, and if it is, then the product has already failed in my opinion.
I found that the Storm 800 was virtually plug-and-play. I hooked up the transmitter to my camera, connected an SDI cable and then hooked up the receiver to a smallHD monitor and turned everything on. Without having to do anything I instantly got a picture. This is how a wireless system should be, quick and easy to use.
So far so good, but I wanted to see what would happen if I lost connection, so I turned the receiver off and then back on again. It took roughly 50 seconds for the receiver to re-establish a connection which was a bit slow for my liking (but at least I didn’t have to reboot both the receiver and the transmitter).
Next, I turned the transmitter off, which is more commonly what may happen when you change over a camera battery or power the camera off and then on again. This time the connection was re-established in under 5 seconds. This was very impressive. So what about if I pulled out the SDI from the camera? Again the system re-established connection almost instantly.
So what would happen if I suddenly changed the frame rate to 60fps (still in a 23.98p recording mode) on my camera while the system was on? Absolutely nothing changed. I didn’t even lose the picture for a second. When I changed the camera back to 23.98fps I did lose the signal for about 3 seconds before it came back up.
Now the Storm 800 is claimed to support up to 60p in full HD, so I decided to test that claim. Again this was no problem at all, and the Storm 800 receiver re-established a connection within less than 5 seconds.
In the final test, I wanted to change the operating channel and see what would happen. I changed the receiver to a different channel and then changed the transmitter to the same channel. Again in less than 3 seconds, I had a picture back.
I really tried hard to fault the Storm 800 with all these tests, and no matter what I did the system always re-established a connection without me needing to do anything. Not once did I have to re-boot both the transmitter or receiver.
Pulling out connectors, changing settings and turning receivers and transmitters on and off is one thing, but how does it actually perform in the real world? Vaxis recommends that to get the best wireless transmission performance, both the transmitter and receiver need to be at least 1.5m above the ground. Keeping both the receiver and the transmitter at similar heights also helps with performance.
The real transmission distance is also relevant to the current air electromagnetic environment, because the system works in the ISM band, and therefore has exposure to all kind of 5GHz band air interference. Vaxis recommends users should do a manual frequency sweep by adjusting the frequency selection knob with a circle before using the equipment, that way you can select the best frequency channel for stable performance.
With this in mind, I decided to test the systems range and performance. To test the systems range I remained in line of sight of the camera and started walking away with the receiver. I found that I could get around 200m (656ft) before the signal dropped out. This distance was almost identical the operating range I got out of the Bolt 703 when I reviewed it.
Now in saying this, I did find that the receiver needed to be facing towards the transmitter and you have to be careful not to block the top of the receiver where the inbuilt antennas are. If you place your hand or something over the top of this part of the receiver the signal tends to disappear fairly quickly.
When the signal did disappear, I had to wait until I was back in range before it re-connected. The system seems to be very stable as long as you didn’t start pushing the boundaries of its operating range. In most cases when it did lose the connection it was able to re-establish it without the need for re-booting the transmitter and receiver.