At CES 2007 Philips introduced a device that can transfer an
uncompressed HD signal over the air. Aside from being the first of its kind,
Philips’ wireless HDMI “cable” is designed to replace conventional home theater
wiring. Any home that currently uses an HDMI cable to transfer signals between
their components and TV can use this unique device.
"HDMI is an established cornerstone for the HDTV
industry, and Philips is extremely pleased to see such significant advancements
for picture and sound quality,” said Glen McIlmail, CEO of Philips Accessories,
North America. “Wireless HDMI presents an entire new category. For consumers
who want the most advanced technology with the simplest connectivity, this is
the only way to go.”
Wireless HDMI is an in-room solution that can transfer a
1080p signal without any signal loss. The signal is never compressed and
retains all the attributes as if it were transmitted through a standard HDMI
cable. By operating in the ultra wideband (UWB) range, the wireless cable experiences
no interference from traditional devices (it functions free from obstruction of
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cordless phones, microwaves and cell phones). Additionally,
the wireless HDMI can be placed anywhere within a 25-foot range – in an
entertainment center, in a closet, on the other side of the room. The cable
also is compatible with HDCP.
The wireless HDMI device (SWW1800) will be available in May
with a suggested retail price of $299.99.
Philips’ solution claims to be the first to offer an
uncompressed, lossless signal, but it is not the first to move HDMI signals
through the air. Last September, Tzero Technologies and Analog Devices announced
their own wireless HDMI solution, which also makes use of UWB technology.
While Philips has not yet detailed exactly how its device
operates, the Tzero and Analog HDMI Devices work by using a complex set of
chips. On the transmit side, video data is compressed using Analog Devices’
ADV202 JPEG2000 video codec, combined with audio, then packetized and encrypted,
and transmitted via the Tzero MAC and PHY chip. The RF chip transmits over the
air to the receiver where the audio/video data with HDMI is decompressed and
presented to the display device via the HDMI port.
The compression introduced by the Tzero and Analog Devices
product is not a lossless one, and thus there is a drop in fidelity. Their
design supports only up to 480 Mbps, though the bandwidth
requirement for an uncompressed 1080i image is 2.2Gbps.