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The end-of-year shopping season, followed by the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January, will give the next indications of the likely short-term prospects for wireless high-definition television systems in the consumer space. Holiday sales of existing products and new product announcements at CES will help paint a picture as to which of several competing systems – if any – is likely to lead the charge towards wide consumer acceptance of wireless HDTV.

There are three competing technologies, loosely characterized as: 5GHz, 60GHz, and ultra-wideband (UWB). Small numbers of 5GHz and UWB devices are currently shipping; demo products of 60GHz systems are expected early next year.

"Over the next two to three years, we’re going to see one or two of these wireless HDTV approaches emerge as the primary ones," said ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson.

Two industry groups have emerged to promote 5GHz and 60GHz solutions. Israeli company Amimon, around whose technology the 5 GHz platforms are based, took an initiative in July, forming the WHDI Special Interest Group, which has been joined by Hitachi, Motorola, Sharp, Samsung and Sony. Hedging their bets, the latter two vendors are also members of the competing industry body, WirelessHD, which is intended to promote the 60 Hz approach designed by SiBEAM, Inc. Other members of WirelessHD include Intel, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric, NEC, and Toshiba. Samsung is said to believe that WHDI should be seen as a stopgap technology until WirelessHD becomes "the ultimate solution in the long run."

"The WHDI group has the early momentum. Announcements at CES of systems using the 60 GHz band will give some indication of whether consumer products will actually make it to market in 2009. The coming year will be a very important period for the introduction of all types of new wireless high-definition TV products," Mr. Wilson said.

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