This winter holiday season, visitors to Best Buy will be able to purchase televisions and DVD players with the ability to transmit wireless video in high definition. But before getting too excited about dumping your cords, you should know that there are currently four different ways […]

This winter holiday season, visitors to Best Buy will be able to purchase televisions and DVD players with the ability to transmit wireless video in high definition. But before getting too excited about dumping your cords, you should know that there are currently four different ways one can watch wireless HD, and it’s unlikely all of them will be built into consumer devices.

That’s right, the variety of wireless HD technologies are sowing the seeds of a new standards war. And standards wars stink. Whether between Blu-Ray and HD DVD or the varying shades of Ultra-Wideband technologies, when the fight centers on technologies, consumers lose. This year, SiBeam, a company participating in the WirelessHD standard operating in the 60 GHz band, plans to have products on shelves, as does a UWB vendor. Products based on the third standard, known as WHDI, are expected to be on shelves this winter as well.

Device makers have yet to choose a standard, so it’s hard to say which technologies — and related startups — will win out. It’s theoretically possible that multiple technologies could win, but in the cutthroat world of consumer electronics, spending an extra $20 to $50 for a second or third chipset in every video creation and playback device is hard to justify.

So which standard will prevail? Tandhoni Rao, founder and VP of strategy at Radiospire, a startup using the spectrum allotted for Ultra-Wideband to deliver wireless HD without compression, says that when it comes to conflicting standards, his company is thinking ahead. It’s working with UWB spectrum because it’s a known quantity, and because it was easier to develop chipsets that work in the spectrum between 3.1 GHz and 10.6 GHz for UWB rather than at the 60 GHz range. However, he says the AirHook standard proposed by Radiospire for HD video delivered over UWB would mesh well with 60GHz.

In areas outside of the U.S., the UWB spectrum isn’t always available, making Radiospire’s solution less ideal for a global market. The WirelessHD standard for 60 GHz is available in most countries for delivering HD video without compression, giving that technology an edge. However, WirelessHD at 60 GHz competes against Wi-Fi, which is one of the most ubiquitous standards out there. With Wi-Fi, the biggest challenge will be figuring out a way to deliver HD video without compression.

The outlier will be the WHDI standard offered by Amimon. It uses unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band to deliver uncompressed HD video over a WiFi-like signal around the home, and should have a product out through Belkin in September.

So before you give the gift of a wireless HD-enabled product, remember all the battles that have yet to be won.

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By Stacey Higginbotham

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  1. Why even have standards bodies anymore?

    Each corporate R&D mincemeat machine will go their own way. The following marketplace war will consume millions of dollars – from payoffs to advertising. Consumers will be left with whichever hardware is standing at the end – regardless of technical potential.

  2. Wireless HD Is the New Front in a Standards War | Stacey Higginbotham | Voices | AllThingsD Thursday, April 10, 2008

    [...] Read the rest of this post Print all_things_di220:http://voices.allthingsd.com/20080410/higginbotham/ Sphere Comment Tagged: wireless HD, Stacey Higginbotham, GigaOm, Voices, Best Buy | permalink [...]

  3. daleyblog.com » Blog Archive » Wireless wars: Thursday, April 10, 2008

    [...] still have a tube) that made it through the Blue Ray / HD DVD wars, get ready for the next front. A standards war is brewing for wireless high def in the [...]

  4. Gefen has been showing off a wireless HDMI product (using RF) at CES for 2 years running now, but it is still showing up on their site as a pre-order. I’m really glad to see so many companies focusing on this market because it has huge potential – I just hope that something that works comes out fast…

  5. DailyWireless » Blog Archive » Wednesday Links: Wireless HD, Bay Area WiFi Friday, April 11, 2008

    [...] Gigaom is plotting the path of the next big thing: wireless HD. Read about it here. [...]

  6. Wireless HD Now on TV (in Japan) « NewTeeVee Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    [...] data into a fast wireless stream using unlicensed spectrum such as Wi-Fi or Ultra-wideband, but plenty of companies are trying. However, for any technology to win out, getting consumer equipment manufacturers to put the proper [...]

  7. ZeeVee’s Box Brings the PC to TeeVee « NewTeeVee Thursday, May 1, 2008

    [...] dial. Instead of requiring an additional receiver, it uses the HD tuner in your TV. No new-fangled wireless HD or old-fangled screen-scraping [...]

  8. Welcome to the Wi-Fi Home – GigaOM Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    [...] dongles as well as TVs, DVD players, set-top boxes and speakers, it has the ability to hurt several startups pushing alternative wireless HD technologies such as ultra-wideband, WirelessHD; and the WHDI standard. High-definition purists will gravitate [...]

  9. Wireless HD Gets a New Standard Effort – GigaOM Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    [...] used by Wi-Fi. But the SIG should give both the company and its technology a boost as it fights off rival wireless HD standards and attempts to make delivering content from PCs to TVs easier. To read more about the technology [...]

  10. Wi-Fi Will Own the Home Network – GigaOM Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    [...] WirelessHD or WHDI, plain old Wi-Fi will likely work for most people, and won’t require the average consumer to do a lot of interoperability research before buying [...]

  11. VCs Hope to See Wi-Fi Everywhere – GigaOM Friday, August 15, 2008

    [...] multiple startups betting on different wireless standards for connecting computers to peripherals, transmitting wireless video and managing home-automation [...]

  12. Coming Next Spring: A Cheaper Way to Watch Wireless HD – GigaOM Thursday, September 25, 2008

    [...] Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 8:33 PM PT Comments (0) I’ve written alot about watching HD video without wires, but most of the time it was in response to the latest company trying to push a whole-room wireless [...]

  13. Ultra-wideband Decline Proves Perils of Chip Investment – GigaOM Friday, November 7, 2008

    [...] Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are becoming more prominent — and have the benefit of cheaper chips. In video, UWB has conceded to Wi-Fi and specialized standards such as Wireless HD and WHDI. Those left on the playing field are quick to point out that UWB still [...]

  14. Panasonic and Samsung Invest in SiBEAM « NewTeeVee Monday, December 1, 2008

    [...] support of the two consumer electronics giants gives a boost not only to SiBEAM but to the WirelessHD standard, which uses the 60GHz spectrum to wirelessly beam HD video in the home. It’s just one of many [...]

  15. Gefen Cuts the HDMI Cord Monday, March 30, 2009

    [...] wireless technology, which is just one of the standards competing for dominance in the emerging wireless HD market. UWB works best with a direct line of sight between the transmitter and the receiver. Gefen says [...]

  16. Amimon Unveils Second Gen WHDI Chipset Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    [...] one standard competing for to be the wireless HD transmission flavor of choice. Competitors include WirelessHD and Wi-Fi [...]

  17. Gigle and Belkin Team Up for Gigabit Home Networking | Design Website Monday, June 22, 2009

    [...] struggling with different ways to make sure it can be delivered reliably around the home. There are wireless solutions, such as Wi-Fi, WHDI and Wireless HD, and wired solutions, such as HomePlug, MoCA, HomePNA, and the up and coming G.hn standard [...]

  18. The Battle for the Home Network Pits PCs Against Set-top Boxes Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    [...] companies like Amimon, SiBeam and even large chipmakers such as Atheros and Intel are backing a variety of wireless high-definition video standards. Amimon’s WHDI standard can traverse the whole house, making multiroom DVR delivered [...]

  19. Air HD Offers Affordable Wireless HD Thursday, July 30, 2009

    [...] If there’s one thing I hate, it’s clutter. That’s why I love the idea of wireless HD products, which allow you to transmit high-definition content without a mess of unsightly wires. And, now [...]

  20. Coming Soon to Your HD Home Theater…7Gbps – GigaOM Thursday, December 10, 2009

    [...] the fastest Wi-Fi out today. The WiGig Alliance, which includes Intel and Atheros as members, is one of several groups attempting to using unlicensed spectrum to transmit HD video without wires. The WiGig Alliance is [...]

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