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IOGEAR Delivers WHDI Wireless HDMI

Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) is a wireless HDMI technology. Amimon developed the chips and technology behind WHDI and was a founding member of the WHDI Special Interest Group that handles WHDI. I had a chance to try out IOGEAR's WHDI offering, the Wireless HD 3D Digital Kit (Fig. 1). In a nutshell. It works great.

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Figure 1. IOGEAR's Wireless HD 3D Digital Kit uses Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) to deliver HDMI over the air.

The Wireless 3D Media Kit supports full HD 1080P including 3D content and 5.1 channel audio at distances up to 100 feet. Of course, the remote device needs to support 3D and 5.1 channel audio if that is used.

The system consists of a transmitter and a receiver with the remote control handling the multiple input selection at the trasmitter end. Operation also depends upon whether the transmitter is connected to a device and whether it is turned on when the receiver is in use. In particular, if both ends are attached to an HDMI display then the resulting signals provided to both must be the same. This means the least common denominator wins. I have a 67-in Samsung DLP that runs 1080p and a smaller off-brand LCD HDTV that runs 720p. In this case, the Samsung displays 720p content.

I tried a mix of configurations including remote 3D support although my set up was not as taxing as some keeping to about 30 feet. I utilized another 1080p device to make sure the system worked at the max and did not notice any difference in quality.

You can use the infrared remote to change the inputs on the transmitter or use buttons on the transmitter or receiver. The receiver also forwards IR from its IR receiver to the transmitter. The transmitter comes with a cable with three IR transmitters space along its length. These have double sided tape on the back so they can be stuck next to the IR receivers on the multimedia devices like the host HDTV and the two input devices.

My input devices were a Motorola set top box and a PS3 that doubles as my Blu-ray player. The IR remote support is handy but you will need a second remote or move main one around. Of course, the challenge is handling the remote HDTV and the host HDTV from the same remote.

If they are different brands then a smart remote or multiple remotes are in the mix. If they are the same brands then you run the risk of having to play games with things like mute and volume control because these tend to be toggle commands. Also, the transmitter does not not have an IR receiver that forwards to the remote device so it is very easy to mute it but not the remote device. Then muting the remote device will unmute the main device.

Right now we have a little video interlude with more about the WHDI and the kit after the Engineering TV videos. The first video is from the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

WHDI and AMIMON Deliver Wireless HDMI Embedded in Tablets - CES 2012


 

Embedded WHDI for Uncompressed Wireless HD Video


 

Image and audio quality were never in doubt since HDMI is a digital stream. Either it works or it doesn't. I have lots of other wireless devices from WiFi to microwave ovens and nothing seemed affected by WHDI. As noted, the connection was flawless within the 30 feet including a wall.

The advantage over a second cable box is synchronization. The wireless WHDI connection was in sync between host and remote displays. Normally I have found this not to be the case with cable boxes either from Comcast or Verizon.

The one issue is start up. HDMI is never fast and tuning on most cable boxes is not as swift as analog used to be. IOGEAR's box takes a little time to get in sync. It takes less than half a minute to start up even if the source is already running.

There may also be a very short hiccup if the main and remote displays have a different maximum resolution as one will have to step down to the other depending upon what the source is providing. As noted, this was the case when turning on my remote 720p device.

There are two typical configurations. The first is the one I used with two devices: main and remote. This was useful since I already had a cable box connected to the main display. The system can be used with any combination of displays being turned on.

The second configuration is were the main display is remote. In this case the source devices may be placed elsewhere, even in another room or a closet. This approach is handy when trying to minimize the cabling associated with the display. Only the IOGEAR receiver needs to be next to the display. The receiver is also powered by a USB connection that might be available with some displays saving yet another power outlet.

IOGEAR's package is priced just over $200. It is available from a number of sources so your price may vary. That's about a two year payback if you are sharing a conventional set top box between two displays or one year if that box was a DVR. It will all depend upon your viewing patterns.

IOGEAR's offering is one of the first out the gate and there are quite a few others on the market. In theory they should work together but right now most are designed like IOGEAR's so there are a set of paired devices. The challenge in the future will be getting things to work together and a lot will depend upon the user interface. Devices like the Wireless 3D Media Kit are easy to use because their function is restricted.

WHDI is not the only wireless high definition video technology. Another is Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi). WiDi has found a home in some laptops like those from Toshiba.

I've been waiting for two years to try out WHDI and it was worth the wait.

What next? I am looking ahead to checking out a WHDI dongle or a device like a tablet or camera with built in WHDI.

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