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Technology Untangled: Intel WiDi laptops provide wireless HDTV display

Stephen Bour
February 1, 2012
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technology-bourIntel Wireless Display Technology, WiDi (pronounced why-die), is the clever extra feature that may already be on your latest computer. If you are shopping for a new model, it is a feature worth seeking out because it can simplify the process of connecting your laptop computer to a bigger display for court or for a boardroom presentation. This article will look at a simple-to-use technology that allows you to wirelessly connect to a big-screen high-definition television.

Typically, the best method to present your computer screen on an HDTV has been with a VGA-type computer monitor cable. Virtually all HDTVs have a monitor port like this (also often labeled as RGB). For a courtroom setting, that usually requires a long VGA cable, and a long audio cable for full multimedia capability. Most laptops now come with an HDMI output port allowing transmission of high-definition video and audio to an HDTV. While HDMI has made connecting simpler, it still requires a long cable running across the room.

WiDi allows you to cut the cable and present high-definition 1080p video to a large screen HDTV without being limited by the length of your HDMI cable. This technology uses a WiFi signal, so you can expect a wireless range similar to that of a typical WiFi Internet link.

This technology is ideal for users who have wide-ranging multimedia collections stored on their home computers. Sharing photos, videos and music with others can get a bit cramped when everyone is crowded around a 15-inch laptop screen. But this technology is a great way to present PowerPoint slides, deposition videos and legal documents on the existing HDTV screens that have become common in law firms and are becoming more common in many courtrooms.

Intel essentially incorporated a wireless transmitter in many of its laptops that use its 2nd Generation Core i3/i5/i7 processors with Intel HD graphics (in my case the processor is an Intel Core i7-2670QM quad core). This wireless transmitting technology has been built into many new laptops for about the last year, and it seems that more models have been coming out with this feature. To determine if your computer already has it, click on the “Start” icon on the lower left of your screen and type “WiDi” in the search window. See if WiDi shows in the “programs” list and launch from there.

If shopping, you have to read pretty far down into the specification sheet of any computer you are considering. Even if a computer has an Intel 2nd Generation Core processor, the WiDi feature may not be included since not all computer models are configured to take advantage of it. Sometimes you might see an extra sticker on the palm rest area of a new computer that says “Intel WiDi Wireless Display.”

While the transmitter is already built in, you still need a separate receiver that plugs into the HDTV ($79-$99). Two of the best are the Belkin Screencast TV Adapter and the Netgear PUSH2TV HD Adapter.

I found the setup of the Belkin Screencast refreshingly uncomplicated. I simply connected the HDMI and power cables, followed a few simple on-screen instructions and was up and running. I had to make only one adjustment, increasing the image size to eliminate black bars from around the edges of the screen. These receivers also have standard resolution jacks (video/yellow) and (audio/red and white) to allow connectivity to older TVs. These jacks could also be used to connect an LCD projector. You won’t have the stunning resolution of HDTV, but you will still be able to run your laptop wirelessly.

One security question answered itself as I prepared the receiver. A unique code is displayed on the TV that must be typed in on your laptop to couple the transmitter and receiver. This prevents you from accidentally beaming your exhibits to the courtroom next door. You can choose between duplicate display or extended display by pressing the Windows + P keys (the Windows symbol key is on the bottom left row). I like extended display because it allows you, for example, to play a video on the big screen and simultaneously sort through your exhibit spreadsheet during a trial. You can also use Windows + P to blank the TV display or the laptop display.

If you are in the market for a new laptop, shopping for models with Intel Wireless Display Technology could help narrow your search. WiDi is a feature that doesn’t seem to cost much more, but it does substantially increase the utility value of a computer if you think you will ever need to make presentations with it.•

Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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