WirelessHD legal in the UK from Friday

We’ve been promised wireless HDMI for years now and frankly, we’re getting impatient. This is especially infuriating for tech journalists who attend CES each year to see an amazing array of wireless devices, only for them to never see the light of day. This year is different though, because right from the start, Panasonic and Sony both promised wireless HD transmission on their flagship TVs.  

There’s a slight difference between the two: Sony has an LED backlit model, the ZX1, and Panasonic has a super-awesome, whisper-thin plasma, the Z1. Panasonic’s is the most exciting, because it promised full 1080p, through the WirelessHD standard, whereas Sony is only delivering 1080i with a proprietary media box. With excitement coursing through our veins, we dropped an email to Panasonic and asked if we could borrow one. Yes, we were told, but there’s a delay because WirelessHD models aren’t yet legal in the UK and they obviously can’t send them out until they are.

We immediately thought, “Oh no, Ofcom is at it again.” But a quick email to the telecoms watchdog’s press office resulted in a callback explaining the situation. The spokesperson told us that following an EU ruling, the latest we’d be able to get WirelessHD transmission in the UK was November. Okay, we thought, great news, but that’s too long to wait for such an exciting leap forward.

We didn’t get a chance to enunciate that though, because the Ofcom representative was already explaining there was good news. With all changes to the spectrum, Ofcom is required to listen to any thoughts from interested parties in a 32-day consultation. This is now complete, and the good news is we’re free to enjoy our Blu-rays wirelessly from Friday 17 July.

So that’s it sorted. On Thursday you won’t be able to watch 1080p video on your TV wirelessly, but on Friday, you’ll be able to watch all the wireless video you please. And trust us when we say, we intend to do exactly that, as soon as humanly possible.

Wireless video has huge potential, if only to reduce the amount of clutter behind our TVs. As much as there is to be excited about, however, there are also potential problems: how will these TVs cope if there’s interference? Will a microwave upset it? What happens if there are two TVs reasonably near each other — in a block of flats, say, or even next door. We’re sure this stuff has been tested, of course, but we’re keen to see them in the flesh.

Panasonic is planning to let us get our hands on its Z1 reasonably soon — as soon as it does, you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be bringing you oodles of glorious coverage.  

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