The 9 Best Wireless HDMI Transmitters
A Theater In Any Room
Home theaters have become immensely more popular thanks to advances in home entertainment technology. Myriad services now offer high-definition streaming of movies, TV shows, news, and sports. Major networks have even joined in the game, essentially making standard-definition broadcast a thing of the past. Thanks to constant innovation, screens get bigger and clearer, experiences become more immersive, and hardware becomes more streamlined.
As function and form move forward at incredible speed, it's easier and more poignant than ever to eliminate that obtrusive cable (or bundle of cables). You know the one. It comes out of your PC or cable box, tucks underneath a rug or door, and curls around the corner or up a wall to the back of your TV.
Furthermore, the constantly evolving landscape of cutting-edge projectors and televisions lets you furnish any room in your house with an HDTV. Naturally, you'll want all of your media playback capabilities connected to each of those devices. So if 70 feet of cable clipped to the baseboards and snaking through your hallways doesn't sound entirely simple or aesthetically pleasing to you, the world of wireless HDMI transmitters is one you should explore.
The Complex Realm Of Wireless HDMI
Sounds great! We should run down to the electronics store and grab one of those universal transmitters and put it in the basement! We'll watch Shrek in every room! Wait–not so fast. Yes, we all want high-definition Spongebob Squarepants at the touch of a button. Just know that by committing to wireless HD, you're entering something of a web of different protocols, features, and limitations. The constant evolution of technology is a blessing, and in some cases, a curse. In this instance, you'll find competition among a range of standards. The engineers who develop these varying means of communication are all pushing to cement an industry-wide set of rules for wireless video transmission. This well-attended playing field has yielded a number of opposing technologies.
One class of wireless HDMI unit, the Wireless Home Digital Interface (or WHDI), transmits signals across the 5 GHz wavelength. While this lets you send HD video through walls or ceilings to another room, it does so on the same frequency as some routers and mobile phones. These devices are capable of high speeds, but they sometimes suffer from high latency and low quality due to interference in the airwaves. High-quality WHDI transmitters employ a technology called Dynamic Frequency Selection to automatically detect the ideal channel, keeping distortion and static to a minimum.
Wireless HD and WiGig are two popular protocols that operate on the 60 GHz band. Because of this, they operate very differently than 5 GHz units. A line of sight directly from the transmitter to the receiver is needed to take advantage of their blazing fast speeds and nearly 1-millisecond latency times. Even a door, or for that matter a person, can reduce the effectiveness of some devices on this spectrum. As long as you've cleared a path for the high-speed signal, though, 60 GHz systems are perfect for streaming the highest resolutions of video at seamless frame-rates. It's also worth noting that only Wireless HD chipsets allow for the transmission of 7.1 channel audio.
High-frequency wireless HDMI units are also great for gamers who need fast ping times or firms whose offices process large amounts of data. One of these protocols, called WiGig, is actually endorsed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the company responsible for testing and certifying most of the wireless networking products on the market. In fact, you can expect to see many WiGig-enabled televisions on the market in the future. This technology claims to move information as fast as 7 GB per second, and that could increase to as much as 25 as the system is refined. That's a big step from, for example, the 802.11ac ceiling of just 1 GB per second. Such high speeds are perfect for 4k video. WiGig is also able to automatically switch from the 60 GHz band to the common lower frequencies, although at a slower rate. This lets you move from room to room throughout a home or office without completely interrupting video or data transfer.
It's important to remember, of course, that technology advances every single day, and additional methods are constantly being developed to transmit HD video. When choosing a wireless system, areas such as compatibility, speed, range, and signal strength vary from unit to unit, and it's important to find the device that best fits your needs.
Do I Really Need One?
To be sure, cables aren't disappearing forever. But digital media pervades every part of life at home and at work, and a wireless HDMI setup can be a great way to streamline how you consume the multimedia smorgasbord before us all.
Now you can stream Interview With A Vampire directly to the wall-mounted TV in your bathroom and ready the bubbles. Never again do you have to miss a second of the game while heading to the grill to flip the burgers. You can even move your Netflix binge into your bedroom when the roommate/sibling/spouse wants to use the big screen to play video games.
In business, the most professional boardrooms certainly aren't cluttered with wires. Plus, many top engineers, artists, and executives need to be able to connect to projectors and play back high-resolution presentations at the touch of a button. In some offices, large teams of animators, video editors, and CAD designers require the kind of bandwidth that standard Wi-Fi just can't offer. For all of these situations and more, wireless HDMI could be the perfect solution.