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CES pitted for Intel Wireless Display boost

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IDF Intel made a point of highlighting its Wireless Display (WiDi) technology at IDF this week, but expect an even bigger push at next January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The chip giant announced WiDi at this year's CES, but few hardware makers have voiced their support for the technology. Twelve months on, however, and CES 2011 will see a lot more WiDi product announcements, Intel insiders say.

Intel pitches WiDi as a standard way of streaming computer-stored content to a TV. It's not intended to replace your Nas box or media centre, simply to be a handy, ad hoc way of showing that latest download, or catch-up TV service on the living room screen.

It's a nice idea, but it's not unique. There are similar products that use Wireless USB - Veebeam is a case in point - and you can achieve the same effect with Windows 7's Play To... function and a TV that supports DLNA. Western Digital's WDTV Live box can pick up networked content and play it on your telly. Apple's upcoming AirPlay technology will do the same thing, albeit mediated by iTunes or iDevices.

Perhaps that's why, to date, only Netgear has stepped up to the plate to offer a gadget that can tune in to the WiDi transmissions on your wireless network and feed them down an HDMI cable to your TV.

All the demo stations at Intel's IDF WiDi stand featured Netgear's receiver.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini this week said WiDi was "gaining traction", but so far there are very few PC vendors who make a point of stating they have machines that incorporate the technology.

Intel's own website lists only three: one each from Sony, Toshiba and Dell.

Intel was demonstrating WiDi this week with these machines, and kit from Lenovo, Asus and Gigabyte.

Perhaps more vendors would get in on the act if Intel widened WiDi's applicability, but the chip maker insists that it be offered only by machines using specific Core i CPU, integrated graphics and wireless card combinations.

There seems no reason why it couldn't widen WiDi support, to give the technology a boost, since the networking technology is standard 802.11n. All it has to do is write suitable drivers for a broader array of its integrated graphics cores.

As more Core i3, i5 and i7-based laptops are sold, so WiDi's potential user base increases to the point where companies will join Netgear and offer receivers, or perhaps even build them in to TVs. It's undoubtedly that growth that has prompted the products we've been told to anticipate early next year.

Netgear doesn't ship its Push2TV box outside of the US, so hopefully we'll also see WiDi make it to the UK. ®

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