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High Definition Unwired: Wireless HDMI Components Revealed

Introduced four years ago, high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) is currently available on the vast majority of advanced audio/video consumer electronics shipping today and is looming into the market of personal computers (PCs) as well, which proves that developers of the technology could create a very robust and forward-looking interconnection. But one thing they have missed: people nowadays want no wires.

Clearly, at some point in future the HDMI consortium will ratify wireless HDMI standard so to get rid of the wires, but currently if a TV is in the living room while an HDMI-equipped PC is in another one, either it is necessary to use really long cables or to relocate the computer closer to the TV to connect the two devices. This year the things are going to change, as Asustek Computer and Philips plan to release their wireless HDMI adapters, which should allow consumers to wirelessly transmit data that would typically go through HDMI cables.

Asustek Computer, originally a maker of computer hardware which has been consistently penetrating the consumer electronics market for about half of a decade now, demonstrated at CeBIT its WL-HDMI5000 product that consists of a transmitter and a receiver capable of transferring and receiving video in 480i, 480p, 720i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p resolutions along with stereo audio. Since Asus does not declare 5.1-/7.1-channel Dolby/DTS audio support, but sticks to stereo only, there seems to be a limitation on the audio side, but since the vast majority of 5.1/7.1 audio systems can convert stereo to multi-channel audio, there should not be a lot of problems with that.

Asus WL-HDMI5000 specifications. Click to enlarge

Asus does not reveal a lot of technical information regarding the WL-HDMI5000, but claims that it has exceptionally low packet error rate (10^-8 or 0.000001%) compared to that of wireless local area network technologies (8% to 10% in certain conditions) and uses frequencies not yet certified by regulation bodies, which means that either the company uses a proprietary wireless technology, or it modified 802.11g/n to work at different frequencies and transfer excessive packets of data to achieve minimal PER possible.

Asus WL-HDMI5000 transmitter. Click to enlarge

In any case, data transfer rate of the wireless HDMI technology should be pretty high, as every second of 1080p video encoded using H.264 codec @ 11Mb/s bit-rate with 2-channel stereo audio takes up about 1.4MBs, meaning that at higher bit-rates about 2.8MBs – 3.6MBs of data need to be transferred every second, which requires 28.8Mb/s transfer rate at least.

Asus WL-HDMI5000 receiver. Click to enlarge

Some may argue that Asustek’s WL-HDMI5000’s transmitter and receiver are pretty large, but that seems to be a technology limitation: receiver and transmitter boards inside consumer electronics are also pretty big.

Currently Asustek is negotiating with regulatory organizations across the world regarding the frequencies used by the device, which is projected to be available later during the year.

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