Belkin FlyWire wirelessly transmits six AV sources to your HDTV

The Belkin Flywire aims to wirelessly transmit HD video and audio from up to six AV sources.

Belkin FlyWire
The transmitter (top) sends six AV sources to the receiver (bottom), which in turn attaches to a TV or projector. Belkin

It's a common dilemma: you have the flat-screen TV perfectly placed in the living room or home theater, but the rest of your gear is located halfway across the room. You can snake a long HDMI cable around the perimeter--or you can consider something like the Belkin FlyWire. The transmitter/receiver combo lets you toggle as many as six AV sources and wirelessly transmit the audio and video--up to full 1080p--from one side of the room (your equipment rack) to the other (your big-screen TV or projector). The version Belkin was demoing at its booth had two HDMI inputs, two component inputs, a composite/S-Video AV set, and a SCART input--but the company hinted that that the North American version may drop the SCART jack (useless outside Europe) in favor of a third HDMI input. The generous connectivity means even the biggest home-theater geek will have the capacity for all of his gear--say, a PS3, an HD DVR, an Xbox 360, a DVD recorder, a Nintendo Wii, and a sixth device. Setup is said to be plug and play (the transmitter pairs with the receiver at the touch of a button), and because it's a closed system, it should be universally compatible with any standard video source and an HDMI TV.

Watch the Belkin FlyWire video on CNET TV.

Belkin FlyWire rear panel shot
The FlyWire's basestation transmitter offers a bevy of inputs. CNET

As far as caveats go, Belkin isn't specifying the range--yet--but hints that the system will work "throughout the home." And while the FlyWire handles analog-to-digital conversion from its non-HDMI sources, it leaves them at their native resolution--there are no upconversion options. On the downside, the HDMI transmission is limited to 24-frame 1080p. While that may be great for videophiles with the latest Blu-ray or HD DVD players, it will be problematic for older 1080p sources (such as upscaling DVD players) limited to the more common 60-frame refresh rate.

As anybody who's sick of all the of the wires hanging down from their wall-mounted flat-panel TV can attest, the Belkin FlyWire is certainly a compelling idea. The live demo Belkin was running--beaming Pirates of the Caribbean from a Blu-ray player to a TV about 15 feet away--seemed to be working flawlessly, with no evident image quality issues or audio dropouts. We just hope that the company (and partner Ammion, who's handling the chipset duties) can actually get the thing to stores as promised. Philips showed off a similar wireless HDMI kit last year (albeit with just one input, rather than six), but it has yet to see the light of day. Look for the FlyWire to hit stores by summer 2008 for $500 to $600.

Note: This post has been updated from the originally published version, which incorrectly listed the number of HDMI inputs.

About the author

John P. Falcone is the executive editor of CNET Reviews, where he coordinates a group of more than 20 editors and writers based in New York and San Francisco as they cover the latest and greatest products in consumer technology. He's been a CNET editor since 2003.

 

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