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Review: IDX CW-3 "Cam-Wave" wireless HD

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#1 William Demeritt

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Posted 23 March 2015 - 01:27 PM

Note: I'm writing this review having freshly installed and tested the newest firmware provided to me by Zachary Shannon from IDX which addressed the link time. Prior to this firmware, the CW-3 required the receiver be powered on for 60 seconds before it would link to the TX.


I saw the CW-3 at NAB 2014, and immediately thought this would make a great wireless transmitter at the cost (which has gone down since I bought it). List price is $1,880, but you can order one on Markertek right now for $1,480. 


The unit comes with a transmitter which features a power connector (DC plug/receptacle with a screw nut assembly to maintain a positive lock once attached), HD-SDI input and output, and 2x RP-SMA plugs on top of the unit for using external antennas. The receiver has no external antennas, and just a power connector (same DC plug/receptacle) and HD-SDI output (1 output). The TX and RX both also have 1/4-20 screw holes for placing them on a NOGA arm. 


Both units do get a bit warm, so velcro adhesive does break down sometimes, which is why the 1/4-20 is more ideal for placement. 


Both units also have the characteristic "LINK" and "VIDEO" lights which function as you would intuitively expect: LINK blinking means it's searching for a link. VIDEO off while LINK is on solid means no video is detected over transmission. Also, both units have a physical power ON/OFF switch, which is a mini "rocker" style switch. 


Things also included are: 2x PTAP to DC connector plugs to power the TX and RX; 1x AC to DC connector plug for powering the receiver from AC power; 2x small 90-degree antennas for use on the TX. 


As mentioned in the note above, feeding the TX an HD-SDI signal from the camera and with a monitor connected on the RX side, the new firmware greatly helps on link time. After power on, the CW-3 TX connected to the RX and has a image on the monitor in less than 10 seconds. This is a huge improvement over the firmware that shipped with the unit, and I'm stoked to see IDX actively developing updates for these units. The firmware was updatable by me using a Windows computer (I know, boo, hiss) and a Mini USB to USB plug with the device powered on. 


The RP-SMA connectors also come out of small holes in the chassis of the TX unit which has enough clearance for attaching the small 90-degree bendable antennas that come with the kit. I found a few others antennas that work for 5GHZ also attached, although the clearance on the whole is a bit snug. I also like the 90 degree antennas, which means I don't have to place the unit in a vertical position to have the antennas in a vertical position. 


Lingering issues/considerations:

  • The only remaining issue is PsF, which IDX has told me they're working to resolve ASAP. One thing to note, with Sony cameras, I think that 59.94@1080i is non-PsF (pretty much the only format that isn't PsF), and the CW-3 will transmit it.
  • At this time, the CW-3 still does not (and probably will not ever) support multicast (1 TX, multiple RX units). Of course, considering the cost of the kit, I have considered getting a second kit and just transmitting a second 1:1 system to give an image to wireless handles for the director, etc.  


I will also admit: I've told people the transmitter is a "CW-3" and not a "Cam-wave" because unfortunately the term "Cam-wave" has become a bit of a crowd displeaser. If I say "Cam-wave", it's usually as "the newer generation Cam-wave, released in 2014... improved range, link time, I've been very happy with it." Generally, once it's powered on and working properly, everything is fine and people's negative experiences are cast aside. 


I've had this wireless transmitter on a number of jobs and was very happy with the performance (especially considering the price), and that was before the firmware update. 

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#2 Andrew McMillan

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Posted 26 April 2015 - 05:38 PM

how has the range on this unit been? latency, image quality ?


im thinking about using it for live to switcher type stuff



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