The Myth of Uncompressed Wireless HD

Earlier this week Gefen announced a $700 replacement for an HDMI cord based on ultra-wideband chips from startup TZero. Yes, a $700 replacement for a $43 cable. Did I tell you it was wireless? That it will deliver uncompressed HD content to the TV over 20 meters? Maybe that will make you rush on over to Best Buy, but my guess is that the majority of consumers will hold back, hoping that the price will go down. And that means most of the multiple flavors of wireless HD video transfer are in trouble, as are the companies behind them.

The startups hoping to make their chips the star of the wireless HD revolution have two huge problems to overcome. The first is that there are too many different standards all trying to do the same thing, which could confuse consumers. The second is that the costs associated with buying wireless HD equipment are astronomical, which could alienate consumers. In addition to the pricing example with UWB chips above, televisions containing Amimon chips using the WHDI wireless HD standard so far cost about $875 more than their counterpart TVs without the chips.

There’s not much anyone can do about the multiple standards and hordes of chip firms attacking the market, but the pricing issue could be tackled by giving up on the marketing trope of pushing uncompressed wireless HD. The content arriving in your home via Blu-Ray, the web or your cable box is already compressed making it kind of silly to uncompress it before it reaches the display, where it is normally uncompressed. Transcoding and encoding the HD content just to send it in an uncompressed format adds a higher cost to the chips, as does the processing power needed to handle all those uncompressed bits quickly.

Push the prices down to a more reasonable level and then consumers will undoubtedly fork over a premium for wireless technology. As more do so, the chips become cheaper to produce, lowering costs further. Then all we have to do is figure out if we want UWB, Wi-Fi, WirelessHD or WHDI equipment to enable wireless video.

image of Amimon router and a new Mitsubishi WHDI TV courtesy of Amimon

NFL Kicks Off Online Streaming Tonight

Are you ready for some (online) football?! A web video party? Then head on over to NBCSports.com to check out the NFL’s first live-streaming game of the season, as the defending Super Bowl champs, the New York Giants, take on the Washington Redskins.

The game begins at 7 p.m. ET, and will feature four different camera angles to choose from, picture-in-picture functionality, and real-time commentary. Interestingly, the game requires Flash, not Silverlight, which NBC was used for the Olympics.

Last year, the NFL offered games online, but only to those who paid $269 for the NFL package on DirecTV plus an additional $99 fee. Perhaps seeing all the success Major League Baseball has had without such restrictions wizened those helmet heads up.

UPDATE: I’ve been watching for twenty minutes and here are some initial thoughts. The video quality is just alright, not as good as the Olympics. And while you can switch camera angles (cable cam, star cam, sideline cam, end zone cam), each time I did a commercial played (irritating). Overall, it’s nice if your a die-hard football fan stuck at work, but otherwise, not that impressive.

(Tip of the hat to Lost Remote.)

IKEA Assembles a Web Series

“Easy to Assemble” created by Illeana Douglas, will feature appearances by Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr. and Justine Bateman.

Optony: Where Thin Film and Concentrating Solar Meet

The idea behind Optony, a year-old startup that is working on combining thin film solar cells with a solar concentrating system, is to merge two of the solar industry’s low-cost options to produce solar power prices that rival grid parity. At least that’s the theory — the company is still in the development phase. P. R. Yu, CEO and founder of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup, tells us that the company has just started to raise a Series A round to help continue work on its rooftop and ground-mounted solar system.

Usually, solar concentrating systems use mirrors and lenses to focus sun rays onto tiny, highly-efficient, multi-junction solar cells that can withstand the high concentrations and heat. The problem is that while only a small amount of the solar cell is used in these systems, the material itself can be pretty expensive. Yu says the company’s thin-film material, which it plans to manufacture itself, is cheaper than these cells as well as traditional silicon-based photovoltaics.
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