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Samsung plasma TV snips the wires

Samsung introduces the wireless Samsung FP-T5894W.

Thousands of people pay thousands of dollars to have flat-panel HDTVs mounted on the wall with no visible wires. Samsung's FP-T5894W, the first mainstream large-screen "wireless" TV that I've seen, aims to make those wireless-looking installations a lot cheaper and easier. Like most "wireless" A/V gear, it does require one cord--to supply AC power--but that's it. The rack full of A/V equipment that accompanies any self-respecting plasma installation connects to the FP-T5894W's "wireless A/V center," which the company claims can sit up to 300 feet away from the panel itself. The panel and the included wireless center communicate using the 802.11n wireless standard at bit rates up to 150Mbps--plenty for 1080p video, for example. I'm looking forward to testing its capabilities with more than one video source (picture-in-picture) and at the extreme range of its signal.

The FP-T5894W is a 58-inch plasma display with 1080p (1,920x1,080) native resolution. (Note: Our video and images are of a 50-inch prototype on display at the company's CES 2007 booth; for now, Samsung is talking about only a 58-inch version being available for sale this year.) The screen deploys Samsung's FilterBright2 Plus technology, which the company is pushing again this year as a solution for reducing glare and improving the picture quality in bright light (a historical weakness of those big panes of glass). Samsung also touts a ludicrous 10,000:1 contrast ratio. These last two claims deserve a healthy helping of salt. The A/V center sports 3 HDMI 1.3 inputs among its many connections, although there's no mention of a PC input on its preliminary spec sheet.

Available in September, the wireless FP-T5894W will list for $5,799, a couple grand more than a wired Panasonic TH-58PX600U, for example. The company also announced two other high-end plasmas at the show, both also available in September: the 50-inch HP-T5084 ($4,199 MSRP) and the 58-inch HP-T5884 ($5,199 MSRP). Aside from wireless connectivity, they have essentially the same specs as the FP-T5894W (yes, the 50-inch model is also 1080p, and both models have HDMI 1.3). If you compare just the two Samsung 58-inchers, the cost of going wireless is about $600. There are a couple of other wireless solutions available, such as Gefen's $500 Wireless HDMI Extender, but this Samsung is the first big-screen integrated wireless TV I've seen.