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Wireless HDTV set for 2009

SiBEAM snags deep-pocket partners

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Those déclassé wires tethering your wide-screen TV to your set-top box or Blu-Ray drive may finally disappear when ultra-wideband HDTV sets hit the market later this year, thanks to a group of announcements at this year's CES.

According to a report by the IEE Times, wireless-chip designer SiBEAM "snagged three major design wins with top TV makers" - namely LG Electronics, Panasonic, and Toshiba.

SiBEAM also announced today that its SB9120 WirelessHD HRTX Transmit Network Processor and SB9121 WirelessHD HRRX Receive Network Processor have recently begun volume production. These 60GHz ultra-wideband CMOS chips are based on the company's OmniLink60 technology, which complies with the WirelessHD 1.0 spec published by the WirelessHD group.

The concept of wireless HDTV isn't new. A number of technologies designed to accomplish this feat were demonstrated in 2008, including WHDI (Wireless Home Digital Interface), used in Sony's Bravia ZX1, and Pulse~Link's CWave, used in Westinghouse's Digital Wireless HDMI HDTV demonstrated at last year's CES along with SiBEAM's own demonstration of WirelessHD prototypes. Amimon demonstrated its 1.36Gbps wireless HDTV technology as long ago as CES 2007 and now claims 3Gbps performance with its WHDI implementation.

What is new and notable, according to SiBEAM, is that the now-in-mass-production SB9120 and SB9121 "are the first and only option" that can support "video resolutions from 480p/60Hz to 1080p/60Hz, uncompressed and lossless" due to their claimed data rate of 4Gbps. Also, the company claims that since the SB9120 and SB9121 are CMOS-based chips, they can be "affordable for the mass market."

Finally, SiBEAM says that its OmniLink60 technology has solved the problems created by the highly directional nature of 60GHz transmission, since it can "automatically find the best bounce off of walls, ceilings, floors, or any other object in the room, to allow non-line-of-sight communication."

We'll have to wait until all the competing technologies ship consumer-ready products to see which provides the image quality, ease-of-use, and signal integrity needed to conquer the world's living rooms. Fortunately, that doesn't appear to be a long wait, as it appears that there's going to be plenty of competition this year.

In a related development, SiBEAM also demonstrated wireless Gigabit Ethernet based on its chipset. Although the company itself "does not plan to productize this design," wireless Gigabit Ethernet could some day allow not only high-speed WLAN performance, but also allow PCs and notebooks to transfer massive HD-video files to settop boxes for playback on wirelessly connected HDTVs. ®

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