If you pony up for a 4K/Ultra HD TV, you might as well get the most from it. Intel's suggestion: Let the TV serve as a monster wireless monitor for your laptop. LG is the first TV maker to sign on to that idea.
Intel just released the 5th generation Core (Broadwell) processors for PCs that has a dedicated pipeline for crunching video without burdening the rest of the processor. (The previous-gen processors might also be able to handle 4K streaming, said Intel reps, but they can't guarantee a smooth experience.)
Combined with the latest 802.11ac brand of Wi-Fi, a Broadwell-powered laptop can stream 4K wirelessly. The process is based on a longstanding (but often troubled) wireless streaming technology called Miracast, and Intel's implementation of it, called WiDi. Miracast allows streaming from Android devices and Windows-based PCs and mobiles. (Apple products have their own streaming tech, called AirPlay, that doesn't play nice with Miracast.)
If you can't find 4K/Ultra HD video to watch (a common problem), here's another option: Send up to four full HD streams to the TV at once for total immersion in an event. "You can imagine if this was a live concert...a NASCAR race, an NBA game, or something like that, you can split the screen," said Steve Barile, who is actually called Intel's WiDi software evangelist. (He also narrates this video.) "And when you have a giant...65-inch TV in your living room, there's plenty of real estate on that screen to see multiple items," Barile added.
This isn't some Minority Report vision of the future. Barile showed me a working version using a simple app he had quickly put together. It simply pulls in four video streams, which Intel's chips can easily handle, and displays them in one window.
The LG UF9550 line of Ultra HD TVs announced at CES this week is the first to support 4K Wi-Fi streaming, but Barile doesn't believe that it would be a problem for many of the other latest TVs.
Separate from Intel's new tech, Sharp announced a similar multi-video streaming system to 1080p and Ultra HD sets running its new SmartCentral 4.0 software. But there's a twist: Sharp's TVs can display up to four streams from up to four different devices — such as a bunch of smartphones.
Soon TV cynics may have a new variation on the old phrase: 500 channels - four at a time - and nothing to watch.
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