Be happy: A new wireless HD video standard guarantees that major brands including Sony, Sharp, Hitachi, Samsung and Motorola will have interoperable wireless video streaming. Amimon–the chip makers behind the “video modem” wireless HD tech we’ve been seeing on and off for the last few years, and most recently in Belkin’s Flywire–is announcing the WHDI consortium with the above members, formed to standardise their wireless HD spec and embed it in member companies’ TVs, projectors and HD video sources. The result is a network of HD components, streaming uncompressed 1080p video not just through one room like competing UWB standards, but to and from any source to any TV in your entire home, with a range comparable to Wi-Fi. Pretty impressive stuff.
The change in range is due to the chunk of spectrum being used (5GHz for WHDI and anywhere from 3.1 to 10.6 GHz for UWB). UWB is a low-power, short-range broadcast because it has to play nice with the other protocols found on the wide breadth of spectrum it calls home. (For better or worse, Monster’s wireless HD kit is wireless up until the point it needs to use your home’s coax wiring to gain whole-house coverage).
WHDI, however, is camped out in a chunk of unlicensed 5GHz spectrum just like 802.11n Wi-Fi, meaning it must be able to tolerate the reasonable levels of interference only from other devices that use the same frequencies, and can broadcast at higher power levels than UWB–enough for a range of “over 100 feet.” WirelessHD, a third major spec also funded by Samsung and Sony, plus Panasonic, Toshiba, LG and NEC, uses the 60GHz band, and apparently has problems unless the transmitter and receiver are within line-of-sight.
Components will be paired through menu systems using a pass-key, like Bluetooth. The spectrum can hold around six streams of 1080p video at a time, although real-world interference may vary. A likely scenario would be streaming from a WHDI cable box or Blu-ray player downstairs to 3 TVs throughout your house while still having room for HD gaming in the den.
The fact that a few heavies like Panasonic are still notably missing could mean another standards battle is on the horizon. While WirelessHD already claims a published 1.0 spec, and Monster’s UWB product should be out by the fall, the WHDI spec is due to be finalised at the end of the year, with products hopefully popping up in time for CES ’09. Stay tuned until then–as one format war ends, another begins.