WTF is... wireless HDMI?
Look, ma, no cables
We’re now all used to HDMI, the digital equivalent of the once-ubiquitous Scart connector, the latest versions of which are capable of supporting multi-channel audio, 3D TV and a return channel, so you can feed the sound back from your TV’s tuner to a surround sound system.
It has, to be honest, some rough edges here and there. It’s not that unusual for people to find odd issues between different bits of kit, such as negotiation failures leading to blank screens, and the ability of one bit of kit to control another is often patchy.
These are all complaints you’ll hear quite often if you read just about any AV discussion forum on the internet. There’s one that’s far less common, however: “If only HDMI didn’t need a pesky wire to connect things up.”
Beam video to your telly - over the air
That hasn’t stopped several different groups of companies working on ways of transmitting HD video wirelessly over short ranges. You could be able to, for example, send video from a camcorder to your TV without having to plug it in. And if your TV set is fixed to the wall with all the cables neatly buried beneath the plasterwork, then a wireless HDMI connection could be just the ticket to connect up the latest gadget. So, what’s it all about?
The first thing to make clear is that there isn’t a wireless version of HDMI that’s endorsed by the people who set the HDMI standard. In other words, ‘wireless HDMI’ is a generic term, rather than a specific set of interoperable products like those with the ‘Certified Wireless USB’ logo, which was all set to make a big splash a couple of years ago.
In fact, wire-free HD video connections was one of the things that it was suggested the WiMedia standard for ultra-wideband (UWB) communications might be able to provide. However, with a peak bandwidth of only around 480Mb/s, doing full HD was pushing the limits a bit.
Next page: Squeeze it until it hurts
This seems like a great way to spill gigabytes of traffic into the air making it even harder to use WiFi. All for devices which for their years of life; NEVER MOVE!
It should be illegal for stuff that sits still to use wireless connections, use a cable FFS!
So in the days of cables the "big sell" was oxygen free, gold plated, diamond encrusted uber-cables to link kit.
Hmmm, I wonder if Dixons et al will be eager to sell some extortionatly priced "Oxygen Free Air" for the pre-requisite inter-connect between devices?
The wrong solution
I'm with Bracken. There are plenty of good reasons for wireless connectivity, but not being bothered to hook up a 3m HDMI cable between two completely static devices is not one of them. There isn't an infinite amount of wireless bandwidth available; I live in fear of a neighbour getting a wireless TV extender that lives in the same band as my existing 802.11 and will cripple my bandwidth through the wall. Even the 60GHz solution has the ability to interfere, depending on what your walls are made of.
If you're going to stream video wirelessly, better to transmit the original h.264 bitstream and decode it at the display device. Decoding it wastes vast amounts of bandwidth; decoding it and recompressing it will introduce horrible artifacts (ever used a DVD recorder on the output of a digital receiver?) Better yet, just use some cables, then they won't interfere with (or be interfered with by) anything. Doing this wirelessly is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist nearly so much as the average consumer might think it does, and people have been trying to punt various version of it for years - fortunately with limited success.
If you really want to get an uncompressed video from the back of the room to a display at the front, make your neighbours happy: buy a projector.
Wireless communication is all good and well but people live too close to each other
I was in Toronto a short while back staying over in an apartment on the 15th floor of a building. Scanning for service I found I had 71 WiFi signals detected using a TP-Link directional antenna. These included 5 coffee shops, two McBarf outlets (not the same one), and other commercial establishments along with all the domestic installations.
There are simply insufficient channels to accommodate all these co-located signals.
Likewise, at a very nice hotel in the Far East, all the rooms had TV and audio equipment from the same manufacturer and every so often the programme would be interrupted by signals from an adjacent room.
Things are unlikely to improve from an accommodation standards point of view so it is incumbent upon the standards people to enable systems that at in close proximity to operate without interference. Infra red, possibly, is an answer.
Can't wait to see how brilliant these things are in a high density environment. In an apartment block, if this ever took off, it would be a nightmare. It's bad enough with WiFi, and that's not transmitting all the time!
Also as previously pointed out it's dumb as hell to be re-encoding content and then transmitting it, just shuffle the encoded content over the air so quality isn't compromised.
I can see these things working if they join the WiFi fabric, and stop trying to be an HDMI replacement, just make them a tranport for encoded content! Could work well for laptop/projector use as well.