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Wireless HDMI has been around for a few years now, but it’s had trouble making the leap into mainstream consumer culture.

It brings the promise of wireless 1080p video on your TV with no discernible lag or loss of quality. It also brings you one step closer to ridding all of those cables lying around your house.

While it’s great on paper, how about in practice? If it’s so great, why isn’t so more popular? What’s holding it back?

What Is Wireless HDMI?

Wireless HDMI is the generic name for transmitting HD video and audio from a source device — such as a BluRay player, a PC computer, or a gaming console — to a TV without any wires.

wirelesshdmi

It is a literal replacement for the standard HDMI cables Video Cables Explained: Difference Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports Video Cables Explained: Difference Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports There are so many video cables out there and it can get confusing. VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort -- what's the difference and why do they even matter? Read More that currently connect all of your media gear. You plug in a transmitter to the HDMI port of the source device, and a receiver to the HDMI port on your TV, and away you go. There’s no setup or configuration. The two halves automatically detect one another and connect.

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It’s as easy as plugging in a cable without any of the in-between hassle. The receiver and transmitter units may need power cables, but some of the more recent models can draw power directly from the devices they plug into.

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The wireless range varies depending on the technology used, and where your TV and source devices are located. It’s normally between 10 and 30 meters, and in some cases line-of-sight is necessary.

Most wireless HDMI products also include infrared ports, either built-in or through a dongle, that enable you to control the source device even when it is located in another room. Wireless games controllers 3 Places You Can Buy Custom Modded Game Controllers 3 Places You Can Buy Custom Modded Game Controllers It's tempting to go beyond the stock controller for your system, but where do you start? Let us show you awesome websites for designing your own modded controller. Read More can also be used.

Why Wireless HDMI Isn’t Mainstream

As with most fledgling technologies, wireless HDMI has to deal with multiple, incompatible standards that compete with each other. For it to make the leap into the mainstream, the industry will eventually have to settle on one of these standards. Here are the main ones to know about:

4 Reasons to Use Wireless HDMI

The main benefits of wireless HDMI revolve around convenience and lack of clutter:

To be clear, wireless HDMI isn’t a Chromecast or other related streaming device Apple TV vs. Chromecast: Which Streaming Solution Is Right For You? Apple TV vs. Chromecast: Which Streaming Solution Is Right For You? You know you want either an Apple TV or a Chromecast. The problem is, you're not sure which… Read More . It’s nothing like Miracast or Intel’s WiDi. These are predominantly used for screen mirroring between devices and often suffer from much higher latency.

Wireless HDMI is just a direct replacement for HDMI cables. It transmits a signal from a source to an output device, and nothing more.

Are There Any Downsides?

The idea behind Wireless HDMI is pretty great. So what’s holding it back?

The first downside is the price. You’re looking at a couple hundred dollars for a typical wireless HDMI setup, compared to a couple of bucks for a few meters of HDMI cable Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable To get the best out of your HD equipment, be it a nice widescreen television, a Blu-ray player, a PS3, or an HD streaming set-top box, you need at least one HDMI cable. Or more... Read More . As such, it’s not something that you should get on a whim. It’s more of a “get it if you need it” product.

The next issue is that wireless technologies always have the potential to be less reliable and stable than wired connections. With a traditional HDMI cable, you don’t have to worry about reduced video quality due to compression or loss of signal due to interference. With any kind of wireless tech, you do.

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And finally, there’s the fact that the technology is still young and immature. The competing standards are muddying the waters, but the devices themselves are somewhat clunky, too.

Ideally, new TVs and other gadgets will come with built-in wireless HDMI support, removing the need for an external receiver, but that may not happen until 60 GHz networking really takes off.

Getting Started with Wireless HDMI

iogear

IOGear makes well-reviewed wireless products, including the Wireless 5×2 HD Matrix. This WHDI system supports up to five source devices, can transmit to two HD TVs, and has built-in infrared capability. It costs a hefty $399 and can be extended further with additional transmitters, priced at $159 a piece.

dvdo

If you prefer a 60 GHz WirelessHD option, then the DVDO Air3C gives you one transmitter and one receiver (which can draw power from the TV) for around $189. More affordable options are available if you simply want to dip your toe in the water.

In spite of the challenges holding wireless HDMI back, the benefits are obvious. It puts you one step closer to making your home completely wireless, and with fast speeds and low latencies, it is as viable for gaming as it is for watching movies.

What are your thoughts on wireless HDMI? Do you use it? If not, what’s holding you back? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image Credits: Wireless HDMI via iogear.com, Ports via iogear.com, IOGear via iogear.com

  1. Eric
    November 29, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Can I use a wireless hdmi solution to connect a TV in one room to the hdmi out on my receiver and have the rest of my components (Blu Ray, Apple TV etc) coming off of my receiver?

  2. Andrew West
    November 10, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Same concept here on price. All new technology that is still 5 years out from being mainstream is always much more expensive. The demand is low, and the supply is like low.. thus you will pay commodity prices.

  3. L3 CM
    November 6, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Excellent article - well written and seems to be balanced and factual. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Borg Molari
    November 5, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    A bit radical to pay $200 just to mirror pc. A 12 feet HDMI cable costs about $12 ...

  5. likefun butnot
    November 5, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I'm assuming that a big part of the cost comes from implementing a wireless path for protected content. For non-Apple devices computing devices, there's already a well supported standard for wireless A/V: Miracast. Miracast adapters are substantially less expensive (under $50) and work with anything that supports Intel WiDi or directly provided in Windows 8+ and on newer versions of Android.

    Apple also has a wireless display technology, Airplay, which is widely supported by consumer electronics and relevant Fruit-based hardware.

  6. jshaw
    November 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I love the idea. We now have a splitter from the cable box to a main TV and using a Cat 6 cable (space limitations in the wall would not allow for a high speed HDMI cable) to connect to a second TV. It's been in for just a few months and already there are glitches. It appears one could connect more than one TV with the wireless system. I might consider a change.

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