There was a time when a living room made space to accommodate the TV — now it’s the other way around. Flat panel blend into walls or sit demurely on cabinets that add to the room’s decor, instead of drawing attention to it. But no matter how inconspicuous, the cable that goes from the cable box, Blu-ray player or other video/audio source will stand out. That’s when a wireless transmission system like the Gefen’s Wireless Extender for HDMI 60 GHz comes into play: to take high-definition video signal and transfer it from point A (the video source) to point B (the TV). But just sending the video wirelessly isn’t enough: the signal must also be stable and secure so that not having a cable doesn’t become a liability when watching.
The Wireless Extender for HDMI 60 GHz uses the 60 GHz frequency, unlike others using 5 GHz. This uncluttered frequency doesn’t have to share the airwaves with a plethora of other wireless devices and so can better control the 1080p high definition signal (along with multichannel 7.1 audio). The actual process of pairing the transmitter to the receiver is uncomplicated. Each requires AC outlet power in order to function — there’s an On/Off button — and their antennas are internal so they must be pointed towards one another (the signal can also be bounced off walls). The transmitter (or “Sender”) accepts one HDMI input while the Receiver has just one HDMI output. They come already paired, but there is a pairing button along with a service slot for user firmware updating. LED lights glow a solid blue when the two are paired, or flash when there’s problems. I performed two tests, separated by a few days, in order to see whether the Wireless Extender for HDMI 60 GHz would send a signal without any disturbances. The first test was to play the Blu-ray version of the black and white classic, Double Indemnity using a cabled connection. The picture presented was both clear and startlingly detailed, with strong blacks and well defined shadow areas. Audio, though monophonic, came through with a clean and even quality. I then connected the Blu-ray player to the Sender and the Receiver to the TV and repeated the playback (the distance between the two being about about 12 feet). The playback was indistinguishable to that of the cabled test. I also paused the picture and left it onscreen for 15 minutes to see if any “glitches” or other transmission errors, which might get a pass due to the video’s movement, would appear. Staring at Barbara Stanwyck in her heyday didn’t hurt my eyes one bit, and the image remained rock solid.
When I repeated the test, I used the 3D Blu-ray disc of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This was done in order to see whether the Wireless Extender for HDMI 60 GHz could handle the 3D streams as well as whether the heavy CGI effects would suffer from being transmitted, and also to listen to the multichannel soundtrack. Smaug’s CGI looks impressive on a big 1080p HDTV, and I greatly enjoyed having the subwoofer turned up high. Comparing cabled to wireless was pointless as both looked the same: a highly detailed picture with amazing sound blared forth to assault my eyes and ears. And just to push the transmission technology a bit further, I stopped the disc and moved the Sender an additional 10 feet away. Starting playback again, there was no discernible difference in what I was viewing compared to that of a few minutes earlier. Bottom line: Gefen’s Wireless Extender for HDMI 60 GHz is a highly specialized piece of equipment that doesn’t need to justify its $449.00 cost. It transmits high definition video and high resolution audio and that’s it. But for those wanting to “cut the wire” from the video source to the TV, this is how to avoid suffering any negative consequences.
Works up to 33 feet, CEC pass-through
No IR repeater pass-through
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.