“A year ago, HDBaseT was a specialty technology;
today it is a standard implementation.”
The validity of this bold statement from Intelix
general manager Cameron Smith was affirmed by
a broad consensus of manufacturers observing the
latest trends in HDMI distribution products.
While one could delve into the specific technical
benefits of HDBaseT, the simple truth, Smith
pointed out, is that it is a major problem solver
for many of the issues that integrators face when
implementing an HDMI distribution system.
What once took five different cords can now be
accomplished with one Cat-5e/6 cable, while
supporting high-bandwidth signals like 3D and 4K.
From a new product standpoint, Intelix’s DIGIHD70
extender transmits HDMI up to 230 feet
using HDBaseT over twisted pair cable. With
additional support for CEC, 1080p, 4K, and 3D,
the extender is HDCP compliant and features builtin
surge protection. The DIGI-HD70 is compatible
with Intelix’s FLEX digital matrices for input/
output via a DIGI-HD70 transmitter/receiver.
Dean Vaughan, director of sales and marketing
at Leaf, articulated some of HDBaseT’s other big
selling points: “HDBaseT has specifically helped
push distribution products further by offering a
solution that speaks to the need for converged
distribution of HD multimedia content while
also addressing the lack of effective technologies
currently available to help drive our industry
toward a new digital connectivity standard.”
HDBaseT has strengthened the distribution
category with all its benefits as well, Vaughan
continued, citing uncompressed AV up to 10.2 Gbps,
maximum cable length of 228 feet, a standard RJ45
connector, and support for 100 Mbps Ethernet.
Leaf’s product line has benefited from
performance and design direction from HDBaseT
technology, for example with the
LTHDMI2020W that features
four back-panel HDMI outputs for
in-rack or in-room video and audio
connectivity. Sixteen HDBaseT
LTB1E remote breakout units
receive audio and video from up
to 52 sources, as well as control
data and Ethernet connectivity.
“The introduction of this type
of powerful product shows just
how much HDBaseT technology
is helping to shape distribution
solutions,” Vaughan said.
|Featuring HDBaseT Lite technology, Atlona’s AT-PRO3HD44M 4x4 HDMI matrix switcher extends HDMI sources up to 230 feet over a single Cat-6a cable at 1080p.
Not only is the use of HDBaseT technology
the biggest trend for HDMI distribution today,
agreed Leon Sergiyenko, technical sales engineer
for Atlona, but also, he said, it is the “de facto
standard in the AV world.” As a result, “since this
technology is now becoming the standard for many
manufacturers, the reliability factor for HDMI
distribution has increased in great measure.”
Featuring HDBaseT Lite technology, Atlona’s
AT-PRO3HD44M 4x4 HDMI matrix switcher
extends HDMI sources up to 230 feet over a
single Cat-6a cable at 1080p. The unit allows bidirectional
control through IR remote control,
RS-232, front panel, as well as existing third-party
IR control boxes and automation systems. Builtin
digital audio S/PDIF (Sony/Philips digital
interconnect format) loop outs distribute audio to
each zone, to an AVR or amplifier.
Brian Pulver, Vanco vice president of distribution
products, also identified HDBaseT Lite as part
of the trend. The more economical version of an
already more economical solution, HDBaseT Lite
transmits full HD digital video, audio, and control
signals over a 229-foot Cat-5e or Cat-6 cable.
Pulver also noted that, “HDBaseT is the first HD
based on CE devices
that enables greater
ease of installation.”
this year featuring
an 8x8 HDBaseT
Lite matrix selector
switch, which offers
mirror outputs for
distributing to 16
displays in a chassisbased
fully utilizes all of
the current 5-Play
HD (1080p) video, audio (including all current
Digital Surround formats), 100BaseT over
Ethernet, Power over Cable, and various control
signals over a single 100 meter LAN cable.
Improved features from the previous generation
include Power Over HDBase-T, used to power
ancillary equipment; simultaneous HEC and ARC
transmission; and Power-On-Demand, reducing
power usage and heat generation.
|Crestron’s DM-MD32X32 affords low-latency switching and pure, lossless distribution of HDMI, and other signals to support the latest AV devices.
According to HydraConnect president David
Schanin, For custom integrators today, “the key
issues revolve around physical distribution, and
HDBaseT is the right solution for the immediate
future because it is reliable technology, and it is
plug-and-play technology,” he said.
The third-generation HSS-3 system from
HydraConnect provides 8x8 switching with eight
HDBaseT outputs with PoE, two of which can be
configured for HDMI to support local AV receivers.
Independent video and audio switching supports
AV remix, so users can watch one source while
listening to a second. CEC-based control for most
TVs, AVRs, DVD players, and IP control for
DirecTV receivers eliminates most IR blasters and
automation system gear to reduce costs. The HSS-3
fully supports control for Control4, Crestron, RTI,
and iRule systems, with Savant support in the works.
Kashyap Khetia, product marketing manager,
KanexPro notes the greater need for HDMI over Cat-
6 products as AV content is increasingly transmitted
at HD resolution. “Furthermore, the recent AACS
Adopter Agreement pertaining to copy protection
and the gradual move
away from unprotected
video is encouraging
integrators to analyze
future AV installations
more closely in order
to future proof them in
support of HDMI,” he
offering is based on
extender has been
with real-time signal
distribution and HDCP
HDMI signals over a
single Cat-6 shielded
cable up to 230 feet and supports high resolutions
from 1080p to 4K and 3D. The HDBase70M is
suitable for designing a series of AV systems in a
living room or creating an installer-friendly wiring
environment in a home theater.
|DVIGear’s DVI-TPS-TX90 and DVI-TPS-RX90 form a high performance twisted pair extension system designed for a wide range of HDMI signal distribution applications.
The Digital iQ Series of HDMI matrix switchers
from Key Digital includes the KD-HD8X8BT
with HDBaseT and audio distribution. The device
transmits 1080p/60Hz resolution up to 400 feet.
When used with a Key Digital receiver baluns
and CAT6SP1X, 1080p/24, 1080i, 720p, and
480i resolutions can be transmitted up to 600 feet.
Uninterrupted switching and viewing of any source/
input with any display/output is possible with Key
Digital’s fully buffered matrix technology regardless
of multiple output viewing relation. Full audio
control per each of the 16 active outputs (8HDMI/
DVI and 8 Cat-6/STP) is achieved for volume,
treble, bass, balance, and lip-synch for two-channel
stereo formats from analog or digital sources.
Fiber and Other Trends
HydraConnect’s Schanin believes fiber optic signal
distribution will become more of a future trend
as costs come down, while others expressed more
confidence in its viability right now.
For instance, a FPGA (field-programmable gate
array)-designed front end extends HDMI, RS232,
and IR over a fiber optic link for distances up to
1,000 feet. “Using a cross-point matrix, routing
HDMI through the whole house can now be
achieved easily using either the HDBaseT or the
fiber optic extension technologies,” said Gefen
president Hagai Gefen.
|The GefenPRO 8x8 HDMI matrix w/4 ELR (extra long range) extender offers a versatile solution for high definition video integration and HDMI extension in one enclosure.
Gefen also identified video over IP technology
as a trend for 2013, routing signals over a local area
network (LAN). “With this technology, a gigabyte
Ethernet router/switch can be used to route Cat-5
cables through the LAN, extending up to 330 feet
from and to each sender and receiver unit. Multiple
senders and receivers can be used to transport
HDMI, USB, audio, RS232 control, and IR over
the LAN,” Gefen said.
The GefenPRO 8x8 HDMI matrix w/4 ELR
(extra long range) extender offers a solution for
high-definition video integration and HDMI
extension in one enclosure. Up to eight HDMI
sources can be routed to any eight displays located
either close to the source or up to 330 feet away.
High-definition resolutions up to 1080p full HD
with 3DTV pass-through and multi-channel audio
are supported from source to display.
|Leaf’s LTHDMI2020W features four back-panel HDMI outputs for in-rack or in-room video and audio connectivity.
Celerity Technologies is focusing on HDMI
over fiber due to increasing consumer demand
for bandwidth and the limitations on distance
and signal integrity that copper cabling presents.
“Fiber offers extensive bandwidth and data speed
capabilities and does not suffer from any EMI
issues, which can impair quality and pose further
installation restrictions,” said Buzz Delano, director
of business development for Celerity. “Celerity’s
fiber optic HDMI cable is plenum-rated, which
further enhances its project applications.”
|Intelix’s DIGI-HD70 extender transmits HDMI up to 230 feet using HDBaseT over twisted pair cable, with additional support for CEC, 1080p, 4K, and 3D.
Celerity Technologies’ detachable fiber optic
HDMI cables require no external power adapters or
extenders. Available in lengths starting at 40 feet up
to 1,000 feet, the product is designed for single and
multiple room HDMI connections where distance
between the source and display is extended. Celerity
supports 3D, 4K, and Audio Return Channel
(ARC) without loss of signal integrity and HDMI
specification, the company says.
Audio transport capabilities are a big trend
for Crestron as well, according to Mike DiBella,
solutions manager, in addition to HDBaseT and
fiber transport. “Concern about HDMI’s audio
transport capabilities is moving to the forefront, as
more demand is being placed on manufacturers to
expand distribution over Cat-5e, multi-mode, and
single-mode fiber,” he said.
Crestron’s experience facilitating audio
transport over HDMI includes its DSP downmixing
and Free-Run audio capabilities. “Our DSP
downmixing converts a multichannel audio stream
into a two-channel stream without affecting signal
quality, so surround sound audio can be sent to one
room while the same content is enjoyed in twochannel
stereo in another,” DiBella explained.
|Transformative Engineering’s HD-1 Improved includes Power over HDBase-T, simultaneous HEC and ARC transmission, and Power-on-Demand, reducing power usage and heat generation.
Free-Run audio mode is Crestron’s term for
the ability to integrate audio-only sources into
a distribution solution using HDMI. “Since
HDMI doesn’t carry an audio-only signal, we
automatically generate a black frame video signal
to carry audio without need for an extra video
source for distribution. Now, audio from a portable
device such as a phone or iPod can be distributed
throughout the home.”
With the need for longer length HDMI
connection, Monoprice, a new player in the
channel, has turned to RedMere’s active chip
technology, which achieves increased length with a
smaller gauge cable. “Monoprice’ s active HDMI
cables have the capacity to reach up to 60 feet while
only using a 28 AWG cable,” said Rene Escamilla,
product manager. “Being able to provide longer
length of cables this thin–up to 15 feet down to
36AWG–has a number of advantages.”
By embedding an active chipset at the end of
the run, any data lost that occurs when standard
longer and thinner cables are used is recovered,
resolving many compatibility or handshaking
issues, according to Escamilla. “Our cable’s chip
technology recovers this loss through equalization
settings to produce compliant cables,” he said.
“Although signal boosters have been around for a
while, the RedMere chip in our smart cable acts
independently on each channel, delivering just
the right amount of signal boost to restore it to its
original state with no external power.”
While HDBaseT seems to have cemented its
place as the HDMI distribution technology going
forward, there are a range of predictions about
where, exactly, manufacturers will take it.
|Vanco’s 8x8 HDBaseT Lite matrix selector switch features mirror outputs for distributing to 16 displays in a chassis-based design
with removable cards.
While acknowledging the potential of fiber optic
transport, DVI Gear president Steven Barlow also
said he believes that HDBaseT will “absolutely”
remain a “dominant factor,” going forward. “You’ll
start seeing now, like with Panasonic, display
manufacturers actually putting an HDBaseT port
on the product,” he stated. “I don’t know if that’s
going to take off in a big way, but I think HDBaseT
is going to become more popular.”
For DVI Gear, the trend is manifesting itself
in product design with point-to-point extenders
and HDBaseT I/O cards for the Multiport matrix
switchers in the works. Currently, DVIGear’s DVITPS-
TX90 and DVI-TPS-RX90 form a highperformance
twisted pair extension system designed
for a wide range of HDMI signal distribution
applications. DVI and HDMI v1.4-compliant
signals can be reliably transmitted with or without
HDCP encryption over a single Cat-X cable up to
590 feet. These units support 4K resolution, 48-bit
color depth, and all 3D signal formats. Additional
signals such as bi-directional RS-232, IR, and
Ethernet pass over the same Cat-X cable.
Atlona’s Sergiyenko predicted that display
manufacturers would increasingly implement
HDBaseT in their designs. “From a distribution
amp, a single category cable plugged directly into
the display will become the best way to deliver
lossless audio, HD content, control, Ethernet, and
power. This will eliminate the need for additional
power outlets, as well as cables and cords being
plugged in the wall.”
Vanco’s Pulver also expects that more products
will have HDBaseT chipsets built in. Leaf’s Vaughan
said that manufacturers also might include more 4K
capabilities in future products as HDBaseT pushes the
industry to “redefine digital connectivity standards.”
Vaughan contends that internet-delivered content
will play a factor in the future for HDMI distribution.
“HDMI was originally developed during a time
when the protection of content was a hot button
issue, and internet delivery of content was not quite
viable as a result of a lack of bandwidth and power,”
he said. “Yet times have changed and the majority
of today’s televisions can easily handle internetdelivered
content without the need for another
HDMI-connected box. HDMI distribution products
will have to adapt to changes in internet-delivered
content and new technologies, such as Apple AirPlay,
while balancing the need for delivering quality
content and producing superior media experiences.”
Lindsey Adler is associate editor for Residential
Systems, Systems Contractor News, and