It should come as no surprise that the next era of device interconnectivity comes in the form of wireless HDMI. We've already looked at a few products that offer this type of functionality, but the Philips Wireless HDTV Link is arguably the most consumer-friendly of the bunch. We first got word of the Philips kit back at CES 2007, and almost three years later it's finally available. While it provides great picture quality, easy setup, and lag-free gaming, its $800 price tag is too much to pay for the luxury of eliminating a few cables.
Like the Gefen EXT-WHDMI and the Sony DMX-WL1, you're going to get the best performance with this kind of technology when the transmitter and receiver are in the same room--even Philips' user manual suggests doing so. That brings up an important point: with these kinds of systems more than usual, we recommend buying from a vendor that offers a solid return policy in case it doesn't work in your installation.
The Philips device has an easy and intuitive setup process. There isn't much to do other than connecting the appropriate cables to and from the transmitter and receiver. Once you have everything connected and the power supplied, you're good to go. Simply powering on both devices instantly creates a link and there isn't a syncing process. The Wireless HDTV Link offers two HDMI inputs and two component video inputs (along with two analog audio inputs) for a combined total of up to four HD feeds.
The system comes with two devices, a transmitter (which your inputs are plugged into), and a smaller receiver that offers one HDMI out port. A 3-foot HDMI cable is included inside the packaging as well. Both devices require power and the package ships with two AC adapters.
Where you place the transmitter will depend on where the devices you want broadcast are located. Its box is small enough to be unobtrusive, measuring 10 inches wide by 1.85 inches tall by 5.75 inches thick. On top of the transmitter box is a power button and four input buttons to manually select which device is being broadcast. From here you can also switch wireless channels in case of any interference you might be getting from other devices on the 5GHz spectrum. All of these functions can be performed on the included remote control as well.
The receiver is even smaller (7.67 inches wide by 1.12 tall by 5.77 inches thick) and can be easily tucked away next to the HDTV it's supplying the feed to. Better yet, the system ships with wall mounting screws if you're looking for a real professional-looking installation. When synced to the transmitter, the onboard LED will glow blue, though we wish there was a way to turn off the light when it's not in use. Your only option is to unplug the device or obscure it with something, like electrical tape. The single HDMI out port will pass the selected input from the transmitter, be it component-video or HDMI connection, to the receiving device with both video and audio.
Like the Gefen system, the Philips can carry both of the major broadcast HD video resolutions, 720p and 1080i, as well as 1080p/24 that is common on Blu-ray Discs. However, it cannot handle the very common 1080p/60 format. People with TVs that can handle 1080p/24 should set their devices to 1080i output with the Philips, and select the 1080p/24 output mode. With this arrangement, the film (or other 1080p/24 content) will display at that resolution, while menus and onscreen displays will stay visible at 1080i.
In terms of audio, the Wireless HDTV Link can support digital audio at up to 3.072Mbps AC-3 in addition to DTS audio. In our real-world testing, we were able to successfully broadcast 5.1 Dolby Digital from both our Xbox 360 game console and PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player.