January 18, 2008
| by Jeff Winston
The next lower tier of technologies uses heavy compression to reduce the data stream down to around 150Mb/s. This makes it more manageable, but increases cost, and can increase latency (bad for gaming), as well as produce visual artifacts. Samsung has such a product that won Best-of-show in 2007. This year, it was absent from the floor because it was “nothing new,” having been shipping for months embedded in 50” and 58” TVs (models FP-T5094, FP-T5894). Still, with the huge category buzz at this year’s show, you would think they would want to lord their shipping product over everyone else, which makes one wonder how well it works.
At the 2007 show, a company called Tzero Technologies appeared to have beat everyone out by showing a complete working product. A year later nothing has shipped, and rumors of their demise have haunted the press in recent months. Still, their product from last year appeared in the Gefen and Hitachi booths, and they had a 30 ft. demo running in their own suite where their story was definitely upbeat. Hitachi is promising an embedded product (receiver inside the TV) at the end of Q1, but pricing wasn’t available. Gefen still lists their product on their website (pre-order) for $699.
Other contenders with compressed products included LG and Pulselink. Pulselink‘s gear was also being shown by Westinghouse, but only as a “technology demonstration” as they considered the cost too high for consumers.
Finally, a number of companies were talking about using wireless USB to convey the MPEG-2 compressed stream you receive on your cable or satellite box on to your TV. It sounds good in theory, but the signal still has to be decompressed at the set-top box, and the heavy re-compression (to 50 Mb/s or less) can again add cost, delay, and artifacts.
There’s no question that wireless HDMI is something that everyone wants, and this year it seemed like all the major manufacturers felt the need to show something in their booths, even if it was nowhere near a finished product. Still, as products roll out over the next year, the question will be how badly do people want it? Will they pay many hundreds of dollars, and then settle for less-than-pristine quality? Or will they wait until the early adopters pick the winners and losers? I don’t really know (I’m just a writer), but I’ll keep you posted over the year and watch how things turn out.
Check out our Photos from the CES Show Floor.
Jeff Winston has been writing about home electronics since 1998. An electrical engineer, Jeff has contributed to the development of products in the computer, consumer electronics, and wireless industries. He spends his spare time with his wife, kids, and many PCs, sometimes in that order.