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Fiber Optics Spotlight

Can’t beat the reliability of a solid fiber connection.

It may seem that it is a wireless world, especially with the unrelenting parade of mobile devices joining the smart home network. Plus, particularly with retrofit installations, it is much easier to set up a WiFi or mesh network than run cable throughout.

In fact, Russound recently sent out an April Fool’s day press release announcing its “WIRE-FI-850 Ultra Premium WiFi cable…[which] uses Russound’s proprietary new Wire-Fi technology that brings the power and performance of a wired connection to any wireless streaming setup.” The joke release featured a quote from Russound CEO Charlie Porritt that said, “We asked our customers what they miss most when installing new WiFi products today and the answer was nearly unanimous. They miss the fun of lugging around large, heavy spools of cable, the challenges of drilling holes through beams in cramped attics or snake-invested crawlspaces, and, especially, the sweaty afternoons and evenings pulling heavy wire around multiple 90-degree bends.  They long for the days of spending hours on a job site only to find out that after all of their efforts, the cable doesn’t test right and they have to start over again. Installers genuinely miss all that; we hear it consistently in all of our dealer surveys.”

Jokes aside, fiber optic cable brings with it enough benefits that it is worth the trouble. Beyond the reliability of a strong fiber connection, using fiber optics takes the worry out of passing along Ultra High Definition video signals, and it has far better distance capabilities over copper.

Here, we take a look at some of the latest offerings in fiber optic cables and extenders.

Chromis Fiberoptics
The Chromis GigaPOF Amovilis4K Series is an 18 Gbps HDMI active optical cable (up to 50 meters) with detachable connectors that offers full UHD / 4K @ 60 Hz (4:4:4) video support. It has detachable self-locking connectors and is made up of polymer optical fiber for immunity to fracture failure. It is flexible, with a .2-inch bend radius and features Chromis’s patented GigaPOF graded-index polymer optical fiber.

Cleerline SSF CLEERFIBER is a single strand of SSF 250 μm multimode fiber contained within a 900 μm transparent jacket. The cable can be routed and placed inconspicuously along baseboards or ceilings, up walls, or directed anywhere for indoor point-to-point cable placement. The cable can be caulked and painted over to allow it to become virtually invisible. This cable is available terminated LC/LC or SC/SC.

FIBBR was at CES with two new fiber-optic HDMI cables — the 4-in-1 and the 8K-HDR. Both models include the company’s BendRobust technology, which allows the fiber to be bent 180 degrees without breaking, adding to its flexibility and durability. The Ultra8K and 4-in-1 cables are single-directional, so the connectors are labeled Source and Display ends with a SmartLED indicator on the Source connector to easily confirm proper connection and operation status.

The 4-in-1 active fiber optic HDMI cable can handle 8K signals, has a slim 7mm diameter, and can deliver reliable transmissions to 50 meters. The 8K-HDR fiber optic HDMI cable supports Ultra High Speed with bandwidth capability up to 48 Gbps.

The Kordz PRS3 AOC HDMI cable can deliver HDR/3D/4K/UHD/High frame rate, and its head shell has been reduced in size by 34 percent for easier installation. Its 3kg grip prevents the cable from falling out and leading to time-consuming, costly, and potentially embarrassing re-connection work for integrators. Its Kevlar-reinforced internals allow for flexibility and pull strength during installation. The newly engineered head shell allows for a shallower mounting depth behind components, plus easier installation with its engineered 15kg pull strength — ideal for when running cable through conduit or walls.

Balanced with its strength, the cable features a slim profile, with an anti-vibration connector shell that is just 18mm wide. It is available in a range of sizes to suit a wide range of installations — from 10 meters up to 30 meters, with longer sizes likely to be introduced soon.

Metra Home Theater
The Metra Home Theater Group (MHTG) has introduced a new series of hybrid active optical fiber HDMI cables from The Install Bay that feature a removable headshell for easy in-wall installation. This installer-friendly solution is designed for pre-wiring with a small connector cover and hook that makes pulling the cable through conduit easy. The durable CL3 jacket is designed for in-wall installation and is ideal for pre-wiring new homes thanks to their UL-rated jacket that doesn’t split or break in colder temperatures. They are also available in plenum or CL3 without the detachable headshell option, from 9 to 79 meters (or 30 to 260 feet).

The TechLogix M4D-ARM 50/125 micron OM4 multimode fiber optic cable is suitable for higher bandwidth applications, such as in data centers, telecom rooms, server farms, cloud storage networks, and any place fiber jumper cables are needed. It meets RoHS compliant and cable is optically tested for insertion loss to ensure high quality.

These armored fiber optic cables feature a built-in metal stainless steel tube to provide stronger protection of the optical fibers than standard fiber optic cables, allowing them to be installed in the most hazardous areas, including environments with excessive dust, oil, gas, moisture, or even pesky rodents. Even though they are armored, a flexible 30mm bend radius and light-weight tubing makes them easy to install.

The Vanco Active Optical HDMI Fiber Cable with HDR supports 4K @ 60 Hz, 4:4:4 Chroma with HDR and Dolby Vision up to 330 feet/100 meters. It supports Dolby/Dolby Atmos/DTS/PCM audio formats and provides full support of HDCP 2.2/CEC/ARC.

Extending the Reach
A couple of fiber-optic extenders to help complete the connection.

Luxul’s 18-port PoE+ L2/L3 AMS-1816P managed Gigabit switch delivers high-speed performance while enabling simple network expansion. The AMS-1816P combines plug-and-play installation, a simple-to-use management interface, QoS and VLAN support, and fast switching capacity. The switch also includes Self-Healing features with port Auto-Recovery and PoE Power Scheduling. Auto-Recovery allows the switch to power cycle unresponsive PoE devices, and PoE Power Scheduling allows switch PoE ports to be turned on or off on a schedule. With 18 ports, the AMS-1816P is ideal for applications and system expansions that require a switch with more than the eight ports of Luxul’s AMS-1208P but fewer than the 26 of the AMS-2624P.

For simple network expansion in larger installations, the AMS-1816P is equipped with two 1 Gigabit SFP ports to connect additional switches via fiber-optic cable or twisted-pair copper when using SFP modules (sold separately).

KanexPro’s HDMI 2.0 Fiber Optic Extender (EXT-4KFIBERPRO) is built to transmit 4K video, audio, and control over fiber with HDR, Dolby Vision and Audio Return Channel (ARC). The EXT-4KFIBERPRO is engineered to extend 4K @ 60 Hz up to 984 feet (300 meters) or 1080p up to 1300 feet (400 meters) with 4:4:4 and HDR. Compliant with HDCP 2.2, the EXT-4KFIBERPRO includes one transmitter and one receiver with two single-mode optical fiber ports or two OM3/OM4 multi-mode fiber cables. The EXT-4KFIBERPRO features bi-directional IR, RS-232 pass-through, and ARC, EDID, and CEC channels.