While the general populous is still making the transition to HDMI, anyone looking to the future knows that the inevitable use of wireless HDMI isn t just possible, it s already here. The technology itself is still in its infant stages, and we re certainly not to the point where you don t have any cords or cables at all, but things are moving in that direction.
There are a few consumer level (read: wealthy consumer) products already on the market that make it possible to get rid of some HDMI cables in your home theater, but there are drawbacks that the current options (in general) share:
- 30-foot line-of-site restriction
- Doesn t really support full 1080p video
- Get rid of some cables/cords, but not all
- Slight lag might be an issue for gamers
Not to mention that at the current rates, it is probably less expensive to buy a cheap HDMI cable and pay for the in-wall installation.
Perhaps the most ironic complaint of the current implementation of wireless HDMI is that when it gets right down to it, you re adding more cables, because you still have to plug the source and end-display into the device, AND you have a power cord for each device. You re not really eliminating the number of wires at all, just the type and location of them.
Still, there are cases when wireless HDMI, even with the current restrictions, might be a worthwhile option. Call them what you will (receiver/transmitter, cable , extender, adapter), the following wireless HDMI solutions are currently available:
Gefen Wireless HDMI Extender (EXT-WHDMI)
This wireless system consists of two wireless boxes, one to transmit and the other to receive. Both boxes are pretty small (6 W x 2 H x 4 D). The transmitter has one antenna, and a variety of inputs (2 HDMI ports, Component Video and Audio). You can use all three inputs and use the transmitter as an AV switcher (though there isn t a remote).
The receiver hosts two antennas, and just one HDMI port and the audio ports (which isn t a problem, because let s be honest, if you re buying one of these, you ll be connecting it to an HDMI-capable monitor).
It should be noted that the Gefen Wireless HDMI Extender does support 1080p (better than Sony s support of 1080i), but it works with 1080p at 24 fps video, not 1080p with 60 fps.
Sony Bravia Wireless Link (DMX-WL1)
The HDMI wireless transmitter and receiver from Sony make another compelling cable-free solution, intended to work up to 60 feet apart. Neither box has the cumbersome external antenna, and the transmitter even comes with a stand for vertical mounting.
The Sony unit also beats out the Gefen with input options (4 HDMI, 1 set of component, and even a digital-audio output). And if you use them all, you ll definitely appreciate having the included remote to switch between them.
The receiver (slightly smaller) has all you d really need (one HDMI jack). We should also highlight the fact that (unlike some Sony products), this system works with both Sony and non-Sony TVs.
Rocketfish WirelessHD Adapter (RF-WHD100)
The Rocketfish WirelessHD Adapter is about as straightforward as it gets. Unlike Sony and Gefen, which offer various input options, both the Rocketfish transmitter and receiver (pretty much identical, for what it s worth) have just one HDMI port each.
The adapters work in full at 1080p/60, (notice that this is the only of the three that support full 60 fps). And like the others, it s ideal for cordlessly transmitting within the same room, and works up to a distance of just over 30 feet.
I think we can safely say that we ll see more of these wireless HDMI transmitters pop up in the future, offering a combination of the best features (design, input options, performance). For now, they re a pricey option, but that s to be expected with the inaugural launch of any new consumer electronics technology.
The fact that there aren t physical cables is both their biggest strength and most noteworthy shortcoming. There are situations where getting rid of the need for a 30-foot HDMI cable from one end of the room to the other is a must, in which case these wireless solutions are ideal. However, even with the high price they still aren t up to par with the performance of a physical cable.
Whether you re connecting HDMI devices via cable, or going the wireless route for one stretch of the trip, you re still going to need some HDMI cables. And while they re remarkably similar across the board, there are still plenty of reasons to refer to our comparison and reviews of HDMI cables, not the least of which being able to find the best deal on quality HDMI cables: Herman Street.