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tech to watch
What is it?
Today, nearly every notebook comes with an H DMI port for
connecting to your home theater system. However, nobody
really wants to plug a notebook into a TV via a long wire to
play video, only to scurry to the couch to watch.
Fortunately, several emerging technologies provide the
ability to stream audio and video wirelessly. WirelessH D and
WiGig standards are capable of transmitting uncompressed
videoacrossaroom on the60-GHzfrequency,butbothrequire
a clear line-of-sight to maintain a connection. Because of their
low cost and wide range, the two most promising approaches
are Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) a nd Wireless Home Digital
Interface (WHDI). Apple's AirPlay technology, which lets you
stream video from a Mac, iPad, or iPhone to an Apple TV, also
has lots of potential.
Built into select Intel Core 2010 notebooks, Intel’s WiDi
standard compressesthe mediastream andthen uses 802.11n
Wi-Fi to send its signal to a set-top box you connect to your
TV’s HDMI port. This method is inexpensive, and extremely
convenient. However, in addition to working on only a ha ndful
of laptops, the first generation of WiDi involves a few significant
trade-offs, including a maximum resolution of only 720pand a
600-millisecondlatency.That’s fine for streaming videos, butit
makes navigating around the desktop an noying and gaming
impossible. You also cannot play DRM-protected content such
as Blu-ray or iTu nes videos.
“For some applications like streaming YouTube video to
your TV (and YouTube video doesn’t have that great quality to
begin with) WiDi is good enough, which is what most consum-
ers care about,” said Andrei P ushkin, editor-in-chief of Wireless
HDTV News, a blog that covers all the wireless HD standards.
“And WiDi is inexpensive, because, in effect, it uses all existing
components that already are present i n I ntel notebooks.”
Supported by an industry consortium and backed by big
names such as ASUS, HP, LG, Samsung, and Sony, WHDI uses
its own 5-GHz wireless signal with a range of more than 100 feet
from your TV, even if there are walls or floors in the way. Good
enough for gaming, the standard even has a near-instantaneous
1-millisecond latency time and support for 3D content.
allows you to transmit HDCP
protected content, too. However,
early WHDIdevices cost
cause they aren’t built-in,
they add significant bulk to your
Why it’s important
A few notebooks with WiDi and a handful of WHDI-enabled
products began shipping in 2010, but the adoption and func-
tionality of both are expected to grow dramatically in 2011.
We can also expect to see wireless HD video transmitted from
smaller devices such as tablets and smart phones.
Apple’s A irPlay is the most intuitive wireless video technol-
ogy yet. Just press a button on your iPad to stream content to
your Apple TV. However, AirPlay only works with certain apps
for now, and it’s not fast enough to handle real-time gaming.
Intel hasn’t formally announced its plans for the next
generation of WiDi, but the company is continuing to perfect
the technology. At Intel Developer’s Forum in September, the
compa ny showed off a n Atom-based tablet with WiDi as a
demonstration of its commitment to bringing the new standard
to smaller, lower-power devices.
WHDI’s supporters aren’t resting on their laurels either.
Today the technology requires a bulky adapter, as seen on
the ASUS WiCast ($199) and HP Wireless TV Connect ($199).
However, WHDI controller maker Amimon told us it will start
selling a USB stick-sized adapter in early 2011. Even better,
Japanese manufacturer Murata recently introduced a tiny W H DI
display mini card that goes directly inside the notebook. The
first notebooks with embedded W HDI are expected sometime
in Q2 of 2011.
Like Intel, Amimon a nd other WHDI developers plan to
target smaller devices such as tablets and smart phones. Noam
Geri, Amimon’s vice president of strateg ic marketing, says to
expect commercial tablet and cell phone WH DI adapters by
“ T h ink of handsets, smart phones, tablets, computers. A ll of
them have Wi-Fi,” Geri said. “Over time, you’ll have products
that make use of the synergies between Wi-Fi and WHDI and
effectively you’ll be getting the WHDI for free.”
hoW it Will Change your life
Not only will you be able to watch web video on your home
theater as you sit on the couch, but you’ll also start viewing
photos on your HDTV. You’ll amp up the excitement on mobile
games such as A ngry Birds or Raging Thunder by playi ng them
on the big screen. With that kind of fun, your next home gaming
console may be your phone.
Although Apple's A irPlay has some momentum, the format
war will ultimately come down to Intel, with its inexpensive
and convenient WiDi standard, and WHDI with its high per-
formance and wide industry backing. Devices based on both
standards will continue to proliferate for the foreseeable future
and expa nd into ever-smaller products.
Stream It to Your TV
From mobile device to the big screen
hp Wireless tV ConneCt
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