The race to perfect a wireless HDTV system is being contested by three competing technologies, each one with particular advantages without offering the complete package.
But within three years one will have emerged as the dominant system, according to a study by ABI Research.
This is expected to take global installations from an estimated 100,000 this year to the milestone one million by 2012.
Steve Wilson, principal analyst on the report “Wireless Video Cable Replacement Market and Technologies”, said the wireless HDTV market was still in its “incubation” stage.
He said a “battle of technologies” was being fought by the three contending systems, loosely characterised as 5 GHz, 60 GHz, and ultra wideband (UWB).
“5 GHz technology is better understood and more proven but achieving the required data rates requires new approaches and more complex solutions,” he said.
“UWB technology has bandwidth advantages at in-room distances but drops rapidly at greater ranges.
“60 GHz allows high data rates, but so far only one company is even close to a viable solution.”
Among the advantages of wireless HDTV are simplification of installation and the flexibility it offers in positioning TVs.
There are both commercial applications – digital signage, for example – and domestic applications such as wall-mounting a flat-screen HDTV.
“The initial sweet spot in the market is where wired installation would be difficult or complicated,” said Wilson.
He said small numbers of 5 GHz and UWB devices are currently shipping, while demo products of 60 GHz systems are expected early next year.
“Over the next two to three years, we’re going to see one or two of these wireless HDTV approaches emerge as the primary ones,” he added.
All the wireless HDTV silicon vendors are venture-backed startups and most established wireless vendors are waiting to see how the market evolves.
Product manufacturers are moving forward with different strategies.
Some, like Westinghouse and Belkin, are initially targeting commercial and custom installers where there is clear value-add.
In contrast, some TV manufacturers such as Sharp and Hitachi are targeting buyers of their latest technology, offering design-oriented, elegant products that come with a wireless connectivity option.