Ok, I'm pretty sure I just saw the coolest thing at CES. The eReaders, Smartbooks, eReader Netbooks, etc... are neat but I haven't seen anything I'd actually like to buy yet. Even Microsoft's Slate PC announcement was a disappointment. But this next thing is pretty sweet.

It's called Intel Wireless HD technology and it works like this. Press a button on your notebook and within a matter of seconds the notebook will wirelessly send its display over to your TV.

The communication happens via 802.11n and requires a receiving box hooked up to your TV. Your screen is sent compressed and up/downscaled to 720p, regardless of source resolution. The box is super tiny as it's basically a decoder chip and HDMI output.

CPU utilization on a Core i5 540M is basically around 15 - 20% while you're streaming your desktop to a TV (all of the compression is done on the CPU). Streaming YouTube HD only took about 5Mbps of network bandwidth. It looked quite good and I didn't see any noticeable compression artifacts. The latter may appear for higher bitrate content or on very large TVs, but for browsing the web, using applications, watching Hulu and most other video it more than works. Intel just killed the reason for most of the Boxee-like devices I've seen at CES. And it's only the beginning.

Intel calls it a game changer. I call it the best thing I've seen at CES.

It basically means that you can walk around with your notebook and put Hulu, YouTube, your desktop apps or games on your TV at the push of a button. Currently the wireless link doesn't support HDCP so it won't send Blu-ray video wirelessly, but everything else works. The first generation only supports a 720p output (your desktop res can be whatever, the software automatically compresses and scales the output on the fly). The next generation of the technology will support 1080p and eventually we'll have HDCP support as well.

The receiver box is currently only made by Netgear and will ship bundled with three notebooks starting January 17th at Bestbuy. Additional Intel Wireless HD receivers will retail for $99. Intel showed us a demo on a Sony notebook but I believe Dell and Lenovo will also support the technology.

The demo worked flawlessly when I saw it. I hate to keep saying this but it just worked. It's amazingly Apple-like to be honest. It's something I definitely want on my next notebook.

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  • Doormat - Thursday, January 7, 2010 - link

    What kind of audio does it support? As the post above mentions, can it support a non-DRMed MP4 with AC3 5.1?
  • Souka - Thursday, January 7, 2010 - link

    That's another button for your laptop in the Spring model...

  • mooncancook - Thursday, January 7, 2010 - link

    Most new notebooks already equipped with a HDMI port which you can hook up to a HDTV easily and is lossless and does 1080p for free.
  • crimson117 - Friday, January 8, 2010 - link

    With this you don't have to keep your laptop tethered and within 2 or 3 meters from your television.
  • semo - Saturday, January 9, 2010 - link

    You can get the same effect with something like a popcorn hour box. Even with this wifi video solution you still need a box attached to the tv. Why not make it a useful box and not this expensive one trick pony
  • Aloonatic - Friday, January 8, 2010 - link

    Well, it's not free is it, you still have to buy a HDMI cable, and maybe a hole new laptop with HDMI out.

    The main point is that it's wireless and you can have your laptop on your lap/coffee table/wherever add not have to worry about you or anyone else tripping over the cable strung across your living room to the TV. Maybe you could get this working remotely from a hand-held device too, controlling a PC/Laptop in a different room entirely too?

    Seems like a pretty good idea and this is the first public iteration of the tech, to expect it to be perfect straight off would be a bit silly really, it'll get there.
  • semo - Friday, January 8, 2010 - link

    hold on what? why are technical people excited about this. If i'm going to have to attach a decoder to the tv i might as well spend a little more and get something like popcorn hour or the many other streaming boxes. that way i can still put content on the tv/projector wirelessly and if there is cenrtal storage you can stream uncompressed video.

    I really don't get why this is the most exciting thing at CES. You still need to be tech savvy to set up the d-link decoder box (again i would imagine that a basic streaming box wouldn't cost much more). I can see that it will be useful if the TV is in a bedroom without any wiring to the router. Convenient: yes, most exciting tech for 2010: WTF?

    For me it must be USB 3. One interface to rule them all essentially. No more choosing between eSATA, USB 2 or firewire and fiddling with separate power cables since the spec allows for more power than USB2. Also we have a fresh new line SSDs.

    Wireless video streaming is nice and new but the most exciting?
  • mcnabney - Friday, January 8, 2010 - link

    Key problem:

    Your screen is sent compressed and up/downscaled to 720p, regardless of source resolution.

    Pass. Wireless HDMI is around the corner. This is just a WiFi hack. There will also be a ton of latency. Have fun with games and audio sync.
  • MadMan007 - Friday, January 8, 2010 - link

    Yeah you're right as a CONSUMER device this is way too much hype. I could see a lot of utility for this in business settings, but the C in CES stands for what again? :p
  • semo - Friday, January 8, 2010 - link

    Good point. This can be very useful in a business place for showing presentations and low res video. Instead of running extra cables you can install one of these boxes but you will probably need a very recent wireless adapter for this.

    Also you would need to secure this somehow in places such as classrooms.

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