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Belkin wireless HDMI box spied at CES

Cable-free link for HD TVs

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CES Belkin's experimentation with running HDMI connections wirelessly will finally bear fruit this coming summer when the accessory maker ships FlyWire, a wireless video connectivity box for HD TVs.

FlyWire operates in the 5GHz wireless band to stream signals from a transmitter hooked up to, say, you Blu-ray Disc player over to a receiver plugged into your HD TV. The system supports the transmission of uncompressed 1080p HD video, and six sources can be connected to the transmitter.

Belkin FlyWire

Belkin's FlyWire: wirelessly connect your HD TV to six players

Think of it as a wireless equivalent of the HDMI switching boxes already offered by Belkin and specialists like Gefen.

It's not based on Wi-Fi but rather a proprietary wireless protocol developed for the purpose. And unlike 5GHz 802.11n based HD streaming units – such as the set unveiled yesterday by Netgear – the FlyWire units connect to the AV equipments' HDMI ports.

Theoretically, then, it can also route HDMI control data, allow you to operate your disc player's options even though you're sitting in front of an HD TV in another room altogether. However, Belkin has yet to confirm this kind of operation.

Since FlyWire operates in the 5GHz band, that puts it at odds with the recently completed WirelessHD (WiHD) specification, which sits in the 60GHz spectrum. With a targeted throughput of 4Gb/s, WiHD is clearly about sending a number of HD streams to multiple rooms. FlyWire, by contrast, appears to be more of a point-to-point system.

Belkin said that FlyWire will go on sale in the summer of 2008 for $499-599 (£250-300), giving it a decent window of opportunity before WiHD devices start appearing in significant numbers.

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