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Comment: Intel should make WiDi an open standard

Posted: 01 Jul 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel WiDi? Wi-Fi? HDMI? wireless display? interface?

I've developed sort of a love-hate attitude toward Intel's WiDi. It was love at first sight, to be sure. But the hate part is growing with each new development.

In case you missed it, Intel CEO Paul Otellini unveiled WiDi, short for Wireless Display, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. It's a clever implementation that, along with a companion box that connects to the TV's HDMI port, replicates the laptop's display on the TV screen. It's a cool way to share photos or videos. Toss the box into your suitcase, and you can play a movie on your PC and watch it on a hotel TV, if you're lucky enough to stay in a room with HDMI.

Do you see where the love is coming from? It's a pretty cool usage model. (Given how much content is being generated on pocketable devices these days, the technology arguably would be even more compelling on smart phones.)

So what's to hate? Just this: WiDi isn't a standard. It's a proprietary protocol that sits inside Core processors introduced this year with integrated graphics.

I asserted at the outset that WiDi should be an open standard. It builds a point-to-point video connection over Wi-Fi, which is a universal capability on notebooks these days. Yet WiDi, which sounds very similar to the pervasive standard, is only available on a few systems. That's bound to confuse consumers.

Not to worry, Intel said; any potential confusion would be minimal because WiDi would be confined to a tight pen. It was available on only three systems-all in Best Buy's Blue Label program-and consumers would only be able to buy the box, NetGear's Push2TV, as an accessory for those three laptops, I was assured.

That's not true, as it turns out: Anyone can buy a Push2TV from Best Buy, either online or in a store. To make matters worse, a recent "Windows 7 was my idea" TV ad featuring a Blue Label laptop implies that all consumers need to display their notebook's screen on a TV is Windows 7.

Isn't funny that an ad depicting a guy falsely taking credit for Windows 7 also implies-falsely-that an Intel innovation is brought to you by Microsoft? I'd like to have been a fly on the wall during that discussion.)

Maybe Intel could have found a better guardian for WiDi than Best Buy. It's hard to fault the retailer, though; it just wants to sell stuff.

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