WHDI: World-changing wireless HDTV to become standard

Imagine watching any HD video wirelessly from any Blu-ray player, PC, TiVo, set-top box, video camera, Xbox — any video source, anywhere in your house, up to 100 feet away. Now add the ability to instantly control that video from wherever you’re watching it. That’s what WHDI (wireless high definition interface) can do. Today a group of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world are agreeing to standardize this new way of moving wireless high-resolution uncompressed video, so that all their products with the WHDI logo will be interoperable. They say we’ll start seeing a variety of products with WHDI technology by 2009.

The revolution has already started. The idea is the brainchild of Amimon, an Israeli company that’s figured out how to move the highest-resolution video around with no added noise, no annoying waiting after you push the Play button, and eventually, low cost. We’ve already seen products demonstrated using WHDI, including a TV from Sharp now shipping in Japan, a set-top pair from Belkin set for late 2008 release, and a wireless HDTV demo from Sony at CES 2008 in January. We’ve seen WHDI in action with our own eyes, and we’re here to tell you: It works perfectly. This is going to be big. Really big. Click Continue and we'll tell you more.

Big Companies = Tipping Point
The most important part of today’s news is that tech giants Sony, Samsung, Motorola, Hitachi, and Sharp plan to build these wireless 1080p transceivers into many devices. WHDI will connect PCs, HDTVs, projectors, A/V receivers, Blu-ray and DVD players, set-top boxes, and gaming consoles. Until these chipsets are built in, you’ll be able to get attachments that do the same thing by plugging your HDMI sources in one end and flawlessly receiving their HDTV pictures with another box hooked up to a display or projector up to 100 feet away.

How good is WHDI’s video quality?
In the first demonstration we saw from Amimon at CES 2007 almost two years ago, engineers had two 720p HDTVs side-by-side playing Xbox 360 games, one using WHDI and one with a conventional HDMI cable. It was impossible to tell the difference between the two. WHDI’s one-millisecond latency ensured there was no lag, nor could we see any image artifacts. When the engineers started an HDTV video clip, the picture quality was indistinguishable from the wired HDMI video playing on the screen next to it.

A year later at CES 2008, Amimon showed us its latest tech with 1080p/60-frames-per-second resolution, and the result was even better. Close to visual perfection, it was still indistinguishable from wired HDMI 1080p video. Now, Amimon tells DVICE its second-generation chipset will be ready at the end of this year, and in addition to even higher video quality, it will contain all the interoperable control technology that will define the WHDI standard.

What can we do with it?
Wirelessly watch any source on any TV. The first pre-standard products will be set-top boxes that transmit HDMI-quality video and receive signals from 100 feet away, going through walls and floors and connecting together video sources and displays via the 5Ghz radio band. Starting next year, WHDI transceivers will be built into lots of other devices. For instance, Amimon VP Noam Geri talked about WHDI in a laptop, letting you connect and control its 1080p HD-quality video from your WHDI-equipped home theater. Then, you could also view and control that same laptop from a WHDI HDTV in the bedroom.

How Much?
Geri says the cost of including this wireless capability inside most consumer electronics video devices will first add around $100 to a device at the outset in late 2009. The companies in the consortium are now working to insure that any WHDI product will work with any other, and once it’s installed into millions of devices, Geri says the chipset will only add about $10 to each unit's price.

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The Connected Home
With this endorsement of these large electronics purveyors, WHDI is now well on its way to becoming a standard. Once this technology becomes ubiquitous, you could place all your PC and video gear in one central location in the home, and then have access to and control of all your video sources and PCs from any display.

WHDI could quickly make all those awkward set-top boxes obsolete; Windows Media Center extenders, Apple TV — any extra device that tries to make the leap from the PC to the viewing room — will suddenly be unnecessary. A PC connected to the internet is the perfect set-top box, but this WHDI could enable a leap beyond that, killing set-top boxes altogether and seamlessly crossing that divide between PC, every other video source, the living room, and the rest of the house.