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Wireless high-def battle goes overseas

Though we've been promised the technology for years and it has yet to really hit the mainstream, wireless high-definition shows some signs of life at IFA.

Haier HDTV wireless HDMI
Even Haier is getting in on the wireless HDMI game.
Erica Ogg/CNET

BERLIN--Though still struggling to find homes in the hearts of consumers in North America, the two competing standards for wireless high-definition home video have taken their battle on the road.

Here at IFA, several companies showed products using either WirelessHD, which uses the 60GHz band to send signals, or WHDI, which operates in the 5GHz band.

Philips, which has shown wireless HD kits at the Computer Electronics Show for several years, is giving it a go in Europe too. The new kit comes with a transmitter and receiver pair that can send up to 1080p signals at 30 frames per second (fps) at a range of about 65 feet. Toshiba and Funai also demonstrated similar versions of WirelessHD adapters here.

Vestel wireless HDMI
Vestel's wireless HDMI adapter. Erica Ogg/CNET

Long the domain of big brand names in electronics, promising wireless HDMI products has now even come to smaller and regional manufacturers. Three new companies demonstrated TVs that receive high-definition signals without wires: Haier, Vestel, and TCL, all using the WHDI standard. If you haven't heard of any of those three, you'd be excused since one is more known for its air conditioners and washing machines, another makes white-label TVs, and the third is sold mainly in Europe.

You'd also be excused for being slightly skeptical. We've heard these promises for a while, that the soon speakers, TVs, and video players will connect to each other without wires. While gadget exhibitions like IFA here this week are great places to show off forthcoming technology, we have a hard time believing that this in fact is the beginning of a new wave of wireless, high-definition devices for the home.

But the tide could be starting to turn. Just recently the European Union finally approved use of the 60GHz band, which WirelessHD operates in. That could theoretically open the floodgates for more wireless high-def products. However, there are problems with in several European countries, so mass adoption is likely still a ways off.