The Holy Grail Of Spouse Approval? Amimon's Wireless HDMI
While next-gen disc formats have made big poop at this year's CES, the wireless HDMI demo I witnessed this morning from Amimon is by far the most significant new technology I've seen here in Vegas.
In addition to being what all of our spouses have been waiting for, this technology has the potential to simultaneously simplify the connectivity of our systems and increase their utility by allowing us to access media from one source anywhere in the house.
Amimon's demo had an Xbox 360, a PS3 and a Toshiba HD DVD player as sources feeding HD signals to displays in an adjoining room of their suite. The system used a pair of standalone boxes as a transmitter/receiver pair for each source. Each "dongle" box then connects to the respective soource and display via a short HDMI run. Pictured above, the Amimon boxes are right next to the Xbox 360 and on top of the Toshiba HD-A1.
Amimon also had a long run of hard wired HDMI from the HD DVD player to and identical display to compare the wireless image quality to hard-wired. I saw a little softening and some additional blocking artifacts, but at short exposure the differences were small enough to have been variations between the two displays.
Amimon made much of that fact that competing products use on-the-fly compression for wireless HD to reduce the bandwidth demands on the system and thier system had no latency whatsoever- which was demonstrated amply by rapid fire gaming over the Xbox 360.
Above I differentiated the standalone boxes because in addition to offering those boxes as an add-on solution, Amimon is already working on standardizing its product and offering OEM packages for integrated solutions for source components, set-top boxes, AVRs and processors and displays alike.
When Amimon-powered components are fired up in a household they "see" each other and work in an essentially plug and play fashion. In the case of an integrated Amimon component, the consumer wouldn't need to connect as much as a single cable to add a that new component to an Amimon system. This is fascinating and potentially extraordinary stuff.
The system works over 5.8GHz wireless and can detect competing signals and seamlessly change channels fto avoid interfering with cordless phones or home networks. As of now the system supports HD video up to 1080p/30 and has the scalability to eventually handle 1080p/60. Up to 5.1-channels of audio are now supported and that will expand to 7.1-channels. One question I did n't get answered was if there's a datarate limit on the audio side- whether the system can transmit the roughly 5Mbps uncompressed multichannel PCM soundtracks that are on many Blu-ray Discs for example. No workd on jitter thresholds for digital audio yet either, but to be fair I didn't think to ask during the demo. I plan on getting my hands on this product, so this is only the beginning of our reporting on this technology.
The ASIC solution that powers the OEM offerings are targeted for the first half of 2007, and the standalone boxes and first OEM products are anticipated for late 2007. Anticipated pricing for the standalone "dongle" units is expected to start around $400 for a transmitter/receiver pair.