You might not be a stranger to HDMI which is a ubiquitous standard for audio/video transmission. HDMI, which stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, revolutionized audio/video interfaces and almost single-handedly replaced other analog video standards. The fact that over 4 billion HDMI devices have been sold is a testament to its success.
The whole idea behind HDMI was to reduce the clutter of using multiple cables. Earlier, there was a cable for video, one cable each for each channel of audio and the connectors themselves were not very pretty. HDMI came up as a boon to replace all these cables with just one.
What if we could replace cables entirely and make use of all the great features of HDMI wirelessly? It is possible and since we know our way around wireless streaming with HDMI, we thought we could help you know more about this solution. Each time a product is launched in the market, there will be a lot of options to choose from. In the case of wireless streaming with HDMI, there are a few things that you’ll need to understand to come to a decision.
HDMI cables came into existence in 2003 and it has been almost 14 years since its launch. Looking at it from a technology life-cycle point of view, it has definitely reached its maturity stage and it is time for something new.
Just as with cables, there are several standards for wireless streaming of HDMI as well. The different technologies that are trying to become the industry standard are Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI), WirelessHD and Wireless Gigabit Alliance.
WHDI delivers uncompressed HD video over a wireless radio channel. Talking in technical terms, it makes use of a 20MHz channel in the 5GHz unlicensed radio band. What this means is that the increase in the frequency band is directly proportional to the transmission speed and inversely proportional to the coverage area. So, with an increase in the frequency band, the transmission rates will be faster, but the coverage area will take a hit.
WirelessHD or UltraGig operates on a 7GHz channel on the higher 60GHz frequency band. The advantage is that it can transmit uncompressed audio and video at extremely high bit rates. It also supports 3D and 4K video as well. The downside is that the range is very limited. But it makes use of beamforming and wall reflections to overcome this. If you want to know more about beamforming, you can read about it here.
The members of the WiGig alliance include some of the biggest names in the technology industry like AMD, Apple, Nvidia, Nokia, Intel, Sony, etc. This specification allows devices to communicate at multi-gigabit speeds. WiGig enabled devices support all three bands that are currently in use, i.e., 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 60GHz as well.
There are two broad divisions to wireless streaming HDMI solutions. The first solution is to use a wireless transmitter and receiver combo. The second option is to make use of an application on the device you want to stream content from. Let’s take a deeper look at both of these solutions to get you familiarized with what wireless streaming with HDMI is all about.
Most of these solutions would require a transmitter as well as a receiver. The transmitter is plugged into the source device, say a PC, and the receiver is plugged into the display. These devices make use of separate wireless standards like the one we’ve already mentioned above to transmit signals.
The advantages of using such a solution is obvious. Unlike wireless streaming through applications which uses the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency band, these transmitters use higher frequency bands which are less cluttered. This makes it a very reliable solution. Higher frequency bands also allow for the transmission of uncompressed signals, compared to the compressed signals of the other solution.
Both the transmitting device as well as the receiving display needs to be plugged in with the transmitter and the receiver. Since it requires either an HDMI port or a USB port, for transmission it doesn’t support smartphones or tablets. Lastly, you would have to go for adapters in the absence of an HDMI port.
This is a very widely used solution. Nowadays, most of the televisions and display devices come with support for WiFi out of the box and this can be effectively used for transmitting content. Not all televisions and projectors come with in-built network cards. That’s where products like Airtame come into play. It is a one device solution for wireless streaming with HDMI and uses either your existing wireless network, or its own WiFi. All you need to do is install the Airtame application on the source device from which you want to transmit content and connect it to the same network as the Airtame. Connecting your computer to the TV wirelessly takes one click in the app.
This solution doesn’t require a transmitter or receiver to be connected to your devices. It is much easier to set up. Since it uses the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency band, the range for transmission is much larger. It can effectively transmit across different rooms without the need for any additional equipment. In addition to that, devices like Airtame work across all different platforms like Mac, Windows, ChromeOS, Android and iOS.
If your display device doesn’t support WiFi, you’ll have to use an HDMI dongle to enable wireless networks. The data is compressed slightly due to transmission in the 2.4GHz/5GHz frequency band. This will only be evident when streaming to a very large display, otherwise, it is totally fine.
There are many reasons to go wireless. Here are a few situations where wireless streaming is an easy and convenient alternative to HDMI cables.
Think of this situation. You have a very large house with two televisions in rooms that are not very close to each other. Before the inception of wireless streaming with HDMI, it was almost impossible to stream content to either of the televisions without cables. But now it is all very easy. If you’re using a wireless transmitter and receiver combo for streaming HDMI, you simply have to plug in the transmitter to the device you want to transmit content from and the receiver to the television that you want. If one television is placed in the living room and the other one in your bedroom, all you have to do is reconnect the transmitter to the one in your bedroom to stream content.
If you want to go for wireless streaming with HDMI using apps, you can do that as well. Make sure to connect the television as well as the transmitting device to the same network before you start.
It’s Saturday night and you invite a few friends over to play your favorite game of FIFA or Tekken. But sadly, your spouse doesn't want you to play in the living room as they need a bit of privacy. Thanks to new wireless solutions, you can stream content from your gaming console to a television upstairs or in your room.
This follows the exact same procedure as in situation #1, except streaming using applications through a gaming console would not be an option. Please do note that the transmitter and receiver need to be positioned just right so that the signals can travel longer distances without weakening. Also keep in mind that there is usually some latency with any wireless solution.
This is more of a business application for streaming HDMI wirelessly. Until now, the main application for wireless streaming was for home use, which means there are plenty of consumer products out there. However, new wireless solutions are arising in the market dedicated for business users as well. Imagine you're at a meeting with a coworker or client and you need to share a presentation or other work document on your computer.
Instead of making everyone huddle around your laptop screen, you can showcase your work on a larger TV screen or projector at your office auditorium. Everyone will see the presentation, making it easier for them to connect with you and understand your ideas.
Wireless streaming with HDMI has brought about a vital change in a lot of educational institutions. In the earlier days, most of the institutions had projectors which supported only VGA or S-Video. When the number of classrooms increased, the amount of cabling was getting too difficult to handle. And with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend growing worldwide, institutions started encouraging students to bring their own laptops for presentations. The problem is that most of the newer laptops don’t come with a VGA port, or an HDMI port for that matter.
In such a situation, wireless streaming with HDMI proved to be a boon for educational institutions. Not only did it reduce the hassles of cabling, it also reduced the time for troubleshooting. Apart from classrooms, this solution has also worked its way into huddle rooms at universities and colleges where presentations and group work have become more engaging.
This situation might find a lot of takers since the whole point of wireless streaming with HDMI is to reduce the cable clutter. Everyone wants their environment to look inviting, whether in your living room at home or your meeting room at work. The increasing number of cables don’t make it any easier to keep a clean space. Wireless streaming with HDMI is an intuitive and innovative solution that helps you keep everything organized without the hassles of multiple cables.
Well, who would use wires if you can make it wireless?
With all the convenience of wireless streaming, it is a no-brainer to go for HDMI streaming. Take a look at how it revolutionized the office environment for pioneering watchmaker brand Daniel Wellington, and watch the use case video below.
With HDMI, you were able to move away from VGA cables and composite video cables, but now using the wireless solution you can now get rid of cables entirely, except for the power cables. This will allow you to position your television wherever you want. Earlier, there were issues when placing the television next to the fireplace because of the wires. But that is a thing of the past now.
The Wireless Power Consortium is constantly working on different methods to implement wireless charging. With Apple adopting the Qi standard for their latest iPhones, it’ll soon make its way to a broad range of other devices as well. We’ll wait with our fingers crossed for wireless powering to become an industry standard, so we can bid goodbye to cables once and for all.
Typically, almost every good thing comes with a few cons. When HDMI was first introduced, almost all the major companies adopted the standard despite its flaws. There are limitations to the distance, there can be switching delays, it is costlier compared to the analog counterparts. But even then it has flourished and people have come to embrace it.
Wireless streaming with HDMI has plenty lot of advantages but it does have some cons as well. The first and most obvious disadvantage is the price. Wireless solutions tend to get more expensive due to the technology and hardware involved. Another disadvantage is the limitations with respect to range and the quality of transmission. Higher frequency bands offer better quality but less range and the lower frequency bands offer a better range while taking a slight hit in the quality department. There should be a consensus on the range and quality required to choose the best option.
Be aware that some wireless devices are designed for use at home and some are made for businesses. Take a look at our comparisons to get an idea of the different devices available.