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Another wireless HDMI casualty: Belkin cancels FlyWire

Long awaited and oft-delayed, the FlyWire wireless HDMI accessory will now never see the light of day.

Belkin FlyWire
Goodbye, FlyWire: The now-cancelled product will never see store shelves.

Belkin will not be releasing its FlyWire wireless HDMI accessory.

CNET has learned that the company has decided not to offer the FlyWire for sale. A Belkin spokesperson confirmed the product's cancellation, saying that "its retail price of $1,499 would be out of line given the current state of the economy."

The FlyWire was introduced at CES 2008. The unit was a transmitter/receiver combo: the transmitter toggled between multiple audio and video sources (HDMI and analog), which were then wirelessly beamed to a receiver. Since the tiny receiver required only AC power and utilized a single HDMI output, it could be stealthily mounted behind wall-mounted flat screens or ceiling mounted projectors, eliminating the need for long unsightly cable runs. At one point, Belkin was mulling two versions: an initial high-end, multiroom-capable $1,499 version for multiple AV sources, followed by a less pricey single-source transmitter.

Early demos of the FlyWire impressed us--enough that we nominated it as a finalist in the Home Video category for Best of CES 2008. (It was edged out by the Dish Network DTVPal DVR.) But the FlyWire's premature death is just another indication that wireless HDMI technology is all but stillborn at the consumer level. Other notable no-shows, at least so far: the Philips wireless HDMI kit (introduced January 2007) and the Monster Express HD System (announced summer 2008).

Now playing: Watch this: Belkin FlyWire

So, where does that leave consumers looking for wireless HDMI options? The Gefen's EXT-HDMI and Sony DMX-WL1 Bravia Wireless Link remain the only mainstream wireless HDMI solutions available to consumers. The Gefen costs between $700 and $1,000, while the Sony can be had for under $500--pricey, to be sure, but not unreasonable when compared to the cost of hiring a custom installer to bury cables behind your walls.

The Gefen product utilizes ultrawideband (UWB) technology from a company called TZero; the latter company filed for bankruptcy soon after the product shipped. The Belkin utilized a rival technology from Amimon, which has been making headway with a standard dubbed WHDI. But standards--especially ones that hope to offer interdevice support from multiple manufacturers--take time.

In other words, we're all but certain to see more wireless HDMI announcements in the coming months and years. But a wider array of products--especially ones that are affordable--still look to be a long way off.

Additional reading:
Where is wireless HDMI?
Wireless HDMI: Three ways to cut the cord