We have all been through the same thing. We can connect a computer via WiFi, we can obtain Internet around the home and on the street via WiFi but we can hardly ever link a display, a monitor or a flat TV to a computer via WiFi. As we at Fon prepare to launch the Fonera 2.0, I have started doing research with the help of Jordi and Pietro on the subject of how to move HD Video around via WiFi or WiFi like technologies and this is what I found.

High Definition Video has become an increasingly common feature of our TVs, video cameras, and game consoles. The consumer electronics industry has made great steps ahead in delivering high quality video, but our gadgets, set top boxes and large flat displays still require us to fill our living rooms with cables. Wireless technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth can give us high speed Internet and easy file transfers between portable devices, but the promise of wireless HD video remains largely unfulfilled.

The basic issue with wireless delivery of high definition video is of course the high speed rate required to transmit high quality video streams. The consumer electronics industry has been working on different solutions for a few years and the first wireless HD transmission devices are now coming to the consumer market. The main advantage of wireless HD video is not only getting rid of cables, but also and more importantly, moving your TV set away from your set-top-boxes, consoles and HD-DVD/Bluray readers, an attractive idea, especially for users with a wall-mounted flat-panel TV or a ceiling-mounted projector.

Like for most innovations in consumer electronics, different standards are being developed by different groups of manufacturers. Broadcom, Intel, LG, Panasonic, NEC, SAMSUNG, Sony and Toshiba have joined to form the WirelessHD Consortium. The WirelessHD standard is based on the 7GHz bandwidth around the 60GHz radio frequency and allows for uncompressed, digital transmission of full HD video and audio and data signals, with theoretical data rates as high as 25 Gbit/s (check Wikipedia for more details). WHDI (Wireless High-definition Interface) is a competing standard, supported by Motorola, Sharp, Hitachi (recently joined by Sony and Samsung, spreading the risk supporting both technologies). WHDI provides a high-quality, uncompressed wireless link which can support delivery of video data rates of up to 3Gbit/s. Ultra-wideband (UWB) is another competing technology that uses a large portion of the radio spectrum for short-range high-bandwidth communications. Products based on UWB are often labeled as Wireless HDMI.

A few products have already made their appearance on the market. Avocent’s Extenders and Converters have been on the market for a while. These products are based on WiFi technology (802.11a/g or 802.11n) and JPEG2000 compression and can’t provide full quality uncompressed streams as the throughput is  limited to WiFi’s 100 Mbit/s to 300 Mbit/s maximum.

The Sony KDL-40ZX1 is a 40-inch display that is only 9.9mm thick. A wireless box can send 1080i images over a 5GHz wireless channel. The price is around $4,100.

Samsung’s FP-T5094W Wireless Plasma is a wireless HDTV plasma TV set. According to reviews on Amazon the use of WiFi technology means there’s a slight delay between the source and the display. Bad for gamers. Price? Around $1,900.

Belkin’s FlyWire is a device (two actually, a transmitter and a receiver) that wirelessly connects video devices to your TV set transmitting at 1080p high-definition, using radio signals in the 5GHz band. Price? $700 for the basic version, available in Q1 09.

Some interesting articles on the topic are those from Ars Technica and CNET.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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