If you have an older home, running wires to your HDTV from the various components can be a hassle. Cabling is costly, but the real expense comes in trying to route those wires through walls in a way that can be repaired or hidden. Gefen has announced a new product that may be a cost-effective alternative. Their $499 HDMI Extender includes send and receive units that communicate wirelessly at up to 480 Mbps, according to the company. It supports 1080p video as well as HDCP copy protection, and handles audio signals as well.
This product makes a lot of sense to me. I have an older home, and it can take me a day or more to find an adequate route to run a cable. Old plaster walls and thick floor beams and stone-filled outer walls present some daunting challenges. Wireless transmission makes the most sense to move data between rooms (and floors) for both computer networks and home entertainment.
In addition, this device helps enable a change that I think is an important rearrangement of home entertainment equipment; the display should be in the front of the room, but all the source equipment — DVD player, DVR, sound system, etc. — should be in back of the room, next to where you sit. This wireless system makes such a configuration easy.
I have not yet seen this product, so my reactions are based on its potential rather than actual performance. I do hope to see it next week when I’m in Denver for the annual CEDIA show, and I may have more to say on it after I see it. In any case, I expect to see such “wireless HDMI” connectivity to become more common, and eventually incorporated directly into displays and other components. Until then, Gefen’s entry should be a bellwether product for the field.