High definition without the wires: wireless HDMI makes its debut

Setting up a high definition digital lifestyle without tripping over the spaghetti of wires that start to take over your home is a damn challenge.

Operating bandwidth-hogging applications on a wireless network — it’s nigh on stupidity. Whether a high definition movie or some other network-hungry monstrosity; firing it over a wireless network connection with a reliable transmission is almost a joke.

However the tides may be about to turn.

Both Tzero Technologies and Analog Devices have recently announced a joint solution for the need of a standards-based wireless alternative to HDMI for streaming high definition content.

Already in possession of a working prototype the aim now is to produce a small board that manufacturers can easily include inside their new devices — a receiver in TVs and projectors and a transmitter within high definition content players. Apparently this solution will be cheaper than a physical link with Tzero declaring “HDMI cables are expensive and costly to install making a wireless solution ideal.”

For now we’re dubious of such a claim. We aren’t aware of many people who require help with plugging in one cable that handles both audio and video; let alone the price of including a complex transmitter or receiver in every device.

Using Tzero’s TZ-7000 chip the video is compressed using the lossless incarnation (in peak conditions) of the JPEG2000 video compression from Analog Devices. It is consequently decompressed at the receiver where it is then sent to the display every bit the same as the original data. Lossy compression does kick in however when the bandwidth takes a dip.

As it is based on the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) standard it has a limited transmission range so this is a fairly localised solution in comparison to a WiFi (IEEE 802.11) network. This ultimately allows the display medium to be positioned with a greater level of flexibility than one would ordinarily see when restrained by a physical link.

In terms of numbers Tzero lists 480Mb/s (megabits per second) with a four to eight metre reach otherwise it’s rated at 100Mb/s with a tenacious 15-30 metre reach. In both cases there can be a wall every three metres.

Reliability a strong requirement it should only produce less than one packet error in over two hours of operation. Additionally household devices that might ordinarily interfere with a WiFi network such as a microwave ought to have no effect on this UWB standard. “Immune from interference” is a line being thrown around; we’d love to put that to the test.

For security all data is encrypted via 128-bit AES so as to suppress curious neighbourly eyes.

PCI is listed as a supported peripheral interface and with operating system support for both Windows and Linux this may well be great news for the home theatre PC buffs.

How integrating this system will affect prices remains to be seen but if this is picked up by the manufacturers we may well see AV devices with wireless capability in the very near future.