Is 2008 the year of Wireless USB?

There's a good chance that 2008 will be the year that technology goes wireless. Slotting in alongside WiMAX, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband (3G) comes the shorter-range version - Wireless USB (WUSB).

Dell, D-Link and Belkin are all exhibiting Wireless USB-compatible products at CES, which are capable of connecting to each other at speeds of 480Mbps at 3 metres and 110Mbps at 10 metres. Wireless USB uses the WiMedia MB-OFDM Ultra-wideband (UWB) radio platform.

The Wireless USB revolution

Both D-Link and Belkin have four-port Wireless USB hubs on show at CES - a Wireless USB Starter Kit (DUB-9240) and a Cable-free USB hub (F5U301) respectively. This new technology is pricey, however. The DUB-9240 has a $219.99 (£112) price tag; the F5U301 will set you back $199.99 (£102).

But the attraction here is that a laptop can wirelessly access any USB device plugged into the hub - a printer, a USB stick, a camera or MP3 player. Wireless USB is an anti-cable technology. Expect prices to drop as the technology becomes more established during 2008.

Dell, meanwhile, has incorporated Wireless USB into its latest Inspiron laptops. Smaller and lighter than the old 1520 model, the new Inspiron 1525 is the first Dell portable to feature the technology.

Perfect for the digital home?

The concept of the 'digital home' has often been held back because technology wasn't fast enough, powerful enough or cheap enough to make it a reality. And we're not talking about a digital home of remote-controlled lighting and Internet fridges here.

Home networking has always been key to the digital home vision. We've finally reached a stage where MIMO-based Wi-Fi is fast enough to pipe video around the home and Wireless USB is the natural next step, potentially eliminating the wires between devices. First this new technology will free your computer peripherals; then (with its UWB hat on) it will banish your audio and video cables.

So, with the HD war all but over, is 2008 the year of Wireless USB? For the early adopter, perhaps. But like the draft 802.11n standard before it, this new wireless technology will need time to sell its benefits to increasingly wary consumers. Maybe next year.