HDMI is an audio and video transport system used to transmit digital data in its uncompressed form over a cable, and wireless HDMI does away with those cables. Both HDMI styles provide an alternative to the common analog methods, which include VGA, S-Video, component video, composite video and so forth. For the end-user, the primary benefit of this digital interconnect is that the audio and video are of the highest possible quality. Another advantage is that the technology is more accessible; it’s simple to use, and the cables are relatively inexpensive.
In fact, component, composite, VGA, RCA, DVI and DisplayPort cables tend to be much more expensive. This has made the transition an easy one because the customer was getting more for less. However, wireless options, which appeared on the market at near the same time the wired format did, have not fared nearly as well. This lack of acceptance gives some consumers the perception that it is failed or even unviable. Neither case is true. The wire-free technology has been slow to take off because of high costs, comparatively, and a reliance on wires.
That’s right: wires. The biggest hurdle facing this technology is that the system cannot yet be completely wire free. This will change soon, but in the meantime, consumers are unwilling to pay the added cost for a partial solution. There have been other issues too. The technology has not fully supported 1080p video, and there has typically been less support for connections to the mini variant. There have also been some restrictions on versatility: line of site, about 30 feet. And there is the issue of lag in gaming environments in certain configurations.
The industry expected computer power-users to be the early adopters for the wire-free technology. That never happened because the advantages over standard and mini DVI, DisplayPort and even RCA, in the case of gaming consoles and the like, have not been enough to warrant the expenditure. The good news is that prices have started to fall dramatically, and in the next several years, we will witness versions of the technology with far less restrictions hitting store shelves. When this happens, an industry market-wide transition to wireless HDMI is inevitable.
If wireless HDMI is inevitable then it begs the question: is it worthwhile to begin making that transition now? The answer is that it depends. If you want to use the technology to make your wireless surround sound system more convenient or to facilitate a home-based computer network, then yes, it can make sense to begin making the switchover now. But don’t begin buying the equipment simply to stay ahead of the trends. A lot will change between then and now. Prices will continue to fall, and improvements will continue to overcome limitations and restrictions.