Earlier this week Gefen announced a $700 replacement for an HDMI cord based on ultra-wideband chips from startup TZero. Yes, a $700 replacement for a $43 cable. Did I tell you it was wireless? That it will deliver uncompressed HD content to the TV over 20 meters? Maybe that will make you rush on over to Best Buy, but my guess is that the majority of consumers will hold back, hoping that the price will go down. And that means most of the multiple flavors of wireless HD video transfer are in trouble, as are the companies behind them.
The startups hoping to make their chips the star of the wireless HD revolution have two huge problems to overcome. The first is that there are too many different standards all trying to do the same thing, which could confuse consumers. The second is that the costs associated with buying wireless HD equipment are astronomical, which could alienate consumers. In addition to the pricing example with UWB chips above, televisions containing Amimon chips using the WHDI wireless HD standard so far cost about $875 more than their counterpart TVs without the chips.
There’s not much anyone can do about the multiple standards and hordes of chip firms attacking the market, but the pricing issue could be tackled by giving up on the marketing trope of pushing uncompressed wireless HD. The content arriving in your home via Blu-Ray, the web or your cable box is already compressed making it kind of silly to uncompress it before it reaches the display, where it is normally uncompressed. Transcoding and encoding the HD content just to send it in an uncompressed format adds a higher cost to the chips, as does the processing power needed to handle all those uncompressed bits quickly.
Push the prices down to a more reasonable level and then consumers will undoubtedly fork over a premium for wireless technology. As more do so, the chips become cheaper to produce, lowering costs further. Then all we have to do is figure out if we want UWB, Wi-Fi, WirelessHD or WHDI equipment to enable wireless video.
image of Amimon router and a new Mitsubishi WHDI TV courtesy of Amimon