There have been wireless HDMI products for almost a decade, but they haven’t gained much popularity. Is Wireless HDMI a good choice for your home, and how does it work?
Wireless HDMI is an Alternative to HDMI Cables
For more than a decade, HDMI cables have been the standard medium for transferring high definition video. There are, however, a few drawbacks to HDMI cables. Several unruly HDMI cables can make your entertainment centre look like a rat’s nest, and they can tether your cable box or the games console to a single location.
Wireless HDMI can address some of the problems associated with HDMI cables and can be a wireless high definition video solution. Depending on how you use your TV and entertainment centre, you can stream a single video source to all the TVs in your house, or you can mirror your phone or computer display to the TV.
You can find plenty of Wireless HDMI products on the market, and they are all fairly easy to set up. It is as simple as plugging a transmitter into the HDMI port of a video source and a receiver into the HDMI port of a TV.
It’s Like Bluetooth, but for Video
Wireless HDMI does not require a Wi-Fi connection, unlike screen mirroring applications like Apple AirPlay. With the transmitter connected to your video source, you send out a microwave frequency, and with the receiver connecting to your display, you receive high-definition video. Imagine it as Bluetooth, only with video.
There are some Wireless HDMI products with built-in IR transmitters (but not all). Remote control devices can be controlled from a distance when using these transmitters. In order to set up Wireless HDMI, IR transmitters are needed. Since changing TV channels involves running from one room to another, it would be a hassle.
Wireless HDMI is susceptible to obstructions, just like any other wireless transmission method. Wireless HDMI works on the 5 GHz microwave frequency, which can get crowded with Wi-Fi and cellphone signals. Thanks to dynamic frequency selection, most new Wireless HDMI products are automatically adjusted to the least congested frequency in your home.
The latency associated with Wireless HDMI is unavoidable. It is necessary to encode, transmit, receive, and decode a video signal before it can be displayed. Because of this, most Wireless HDMI products are a little laggy.
It is usually the range of Wireless HDMI products that determines their latency. Products with ranges of 660 feet, like the J-Tech Digital HDbitT, tend to have a few milliseconds of delay. In contrast, a few undetectable microseconds of latency are present in products such as the Nyrius ARIES NPCS549, which has a range of 30 feet.
By now, you gamers know that wireless HDMI solutions don’t allow you to broadcast Xbox games around the house, but they can relieve you of the need to run HDMI cables to your entertainment centre.
Why Isn’t Wireless HDMI the Global Standard?
Why hasn’t Wireless HDMI replaced HDMI cables since it is so cool? Wireless HDMI doesn’t have any standards, and none of the expensive wireless HDMI products available is compatible with each other. Despite the fact that manufacturers have the ability to team up and make Wireless HDMI the new standard for home video, they have little incentive to develop technology that might soon be replaced by ultra-fast data transfer formats like USB-C.
WHDI is currently the most popular option for Wireless HDMI. Video resolutions up to 1080p and 3D are supported, and it operates at the 5 GHz frequency. There is no 4K support in WHDI, and interference from routers and cellphones can cause a problem. Several TV manufacturers, such as Sharp and Philips, integrated WHDI receivers into their TVs a decade ago. The WHDI TV format was unsuccessful, so it was relegated to a niche market.
In addition to WirelessHD, other Wireless HDMI formats like WiGig, which could handle 4K video, have fallen by the wayside. These wireless formats won’t be supported by any new products, and they will eventually be forgotten.
Wireless HDMI is a Niche Product
Despite its potential for some people, Wireless HDMI does not have much of a chance of being widely adopted or useful. If you’re not looking for a way to organize your entertainment centre or broadcast a cable signal into your basement, then Wireless HDMI is not for you.
Wireless HDMI poses what kind of problem? Cost. Wireless HDMI kits typically cost about $200, and they only contain a single transmitter and receiver. The cost of Wireless HDMI products is more than $1,000, and they do not support 4K, so you might have to sacrifice some video quality. Additionally, many Wireless HDMI products are only able to communicate with one transmitter or receiver at the same time. It is too expensive and difficult to broadcast a single video source to multiple TVs at once.
Another problem is latencies. TV viewers need not worry about a few milliseconds of lag, but wireless HDMI setups can add latency that makes video games unplayable. Some gaming products offer latency-free Wireless HDMI, but typically with a range of about 30 feet, so they are mainly useful for tidiness your entertainment centre.
Wireless HDMI is useful in some situations, of course. You could use Wireless HDMI sets to broadcast a single cable box throughout the house instead of paying the cable company $200 per room for set-top boxes. It is likely that you will be able to use these Wireless HDMI sets for a long time, and for a number of different applications in the future.
A wireless HDMI connection can also help you organize your entertainment centre. For those who don’t want to spend $1000 on products, you could always pair a transmitter with an HDMI switch to provide an effective way to get rid of most HDMI cables in one fell swoop. Furthermore, Wireless HDMI makes home projectors much more convenient as you do not have to dangle wires from your ceiling.
How successful will Wireless HDMI be as a video transfer standard? Not likely. If you can put it to good use, it could replace HDMI cables in your home.