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USB, Kleer hook up DTVs

Posted: 19 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DTV interconnect? wireless technology? HDMI?

The USB Implementers Forum and startup Kleer Corp. are offering two interface efforts as options to link to DTVs.

The USB Implementer's Forum will roll out in 2008 a variant of wired USB designed to move compressed high definition video between displays and mobile devices. The group claims the technology will be complementary to HDMI which typically carries uncompressed video.

A spokesman for the USB group said developers could layer HDMI's HDCP encryption on top of the new USB variant. No other details were available about the effort.

In the wireless world, Kleer Corp. said it is ready to demonstrate SD video at rates up to 1.5 Mbits/s on its proprietary short-range wireless technology. The company's chip, primarily geared for audio enables wireless ear buds for an MP3 player from Thomson.

The company aims to enable video transfers between portable media players or to wired adapters that link to TVs. It hopes to gather more than a dozen backers of its proprietary protocol at an event at CES next month where it may show the video capabilities.

However, Kleer does not expect customers to show at CES any design wins for video streaming. "The big message at CES will be [protocol] interoperability," said Ron Glibbery, VP of marketing at Kleer. Even the company's next generation module, due by mid 2008, will focus on audio. It will add sampling rates above the current 44.1kHz, cut power consumption to 20mW average and double the current 2.37Mbits/s peak data rate.

The company's goal is to win sockets in audio products as a lower power alternative to Bluetooth. It uses a sub-sampling technique that does not require all analog components to run at the full RF rates, saving power.

Wireless question
Bluetooth leader Cambridge Silicon Radio disputed Kleer's claims. Kleer uses an external codec and other components that CSR integrates in its chip. Adding in these components, Kleer actually consumes more power (60mW vs. 50mW), consumes more space (134- vs. 64mm?) and costs more than Bluetooth ($6.80 vs. $5), CSR claims.

Silicon Image, the developer of HDMI, took a broad swipe at the whole wireless category. "You will not be able to do video over wireless anytime in the near future beyond about 720p and probably a reduced frame rate version at that," said Stevan Eidson, a director of product marketing for the company.

Indeed the question of what will be the conduit for digital video in the home remains open. TV carriers, still leery of putting their premium content on wireless, will ultimately have a major say in the decision.

"It would be lovely is there was a single answer," said Stephen Wood, president of the WiMedia Alliance whose members are developing UWB and 60GHz radios for the digital home. In the short term, "there will be a lot of variation and experimentation," he added.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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