The new AMP-001-010 combines HDBaseT extension, HDMI receiving, control, and D Class amplification into an ultimate all-in-one digital amplifier solution for residential and commercial installations, large and small.Despite all of the hard work that the custom installation industry puts into crafting seamless, expanded, scalable distributed AV systems, the bulk of that effort is often hidden thanklessly behind the scenes, while sources and audio-video destinations get the bulk of the glory. Until, that is, something goes wrong.
And since our industry-wide transition to HDMI, a lot has gone wrong. HDMI may have given us a simplified, higher quality AV connection for smallscale systems, but for signal distribution it has been unreliable from the get-go. Granted, newer HDMI extenders and matrices have helped assuage that problem to a point, but these products still haven’t consistently overcome all of the transmission challenges posed by any integration system larger than a simple point-topoint install–at least not affordably. That was until the advent of HDBaseT extenders.
Contrary to some early misconceptions, HDBaseT doesn’t replace HDMI, but it does replace long, unreliable runs of HDMI cables, and at the same time, augments the capabilities of HDMI. Adoption of HDBaseT has been a little slow in the consumer electronics market, perhaps because it doesn’t have the same surface sex appeal as an 84-inch 4K TV or ultra-wide projection screen. But, dig a little under the surface (or behind the walls) and HDBT is packed with features designed to make custom installation easier and more profitable, and allow an integrator to deliver a more economical, reliable, functional distribution for your clients. Here’s how:
• HDBaseT Simplifies and Enhances HDMI, Power, Networking, and Control. The technology integrates uncompressed full HD digital video and audio, Ethernet, power, and IR/RS-232 signals, and delivers them all via one single Cat- 5e/6 cable (with RJ45 connectors) at distances up to 330 feet, with zero compression and zero signal degradation.
• Manufacturers are Integrating It. HDBaseT is gaining momentum thanks to recent announcements that leading manufacturers will be adding the technology’s connectors to their receivers and displays. By adding HDBaseT extenders to your systems today, you’ll be prepared to install the AV system of tomorrow.
• It’s Simpler and Safer. HDBaseT extenders provide increased resistance to electrostatic interference that can impact signal quality. The reliance on a single Ethernet cable also makes it easier to install, easier to troubleshoot, and its power capabilities will reduce the number of troublesome power supplies in your distribution system.
• It Keeps Smart TVs Completely Connected. No longer will you have to justify the extra expense of running both AV and network cables to remote locations. One wire ensures that your clients’ smart TVs–no matter how far they are from the source–are provided with a stable network connection, in addition to fully uncompressed audio and video from cable boxes, Blu-ray players, media streamers, and PCs.
• It Supports 4K and High-Bandwidth Streaming. The CEA projects that 4K TV shipments to dealers will dramatically increase year over year, from approximately 20,000 units in 2013 to 190,000 units in 2014, and growing to an estimated 1.3 million units in 2015. HDBaseT extenders can support the increased bandwidth capacity required to distribute Ultra HD video, as well as high-res audio, and Super HD streaming content, whether it’s delivered as a traditional, linear AV signal, or as an IP data.
• It’s Flexible and Affordable. HDBaseT comes in two varieties–one offering full standard HDBaseT and an additional lower cost option that is perfect if you don’t need to extend your signal as far, and don’t need networking capabilities. You don’t have to choose between the two, though; you can actually mix and match both extenders within the same distribution system to optimize profitability and still deliver all of the connectivity that each room needs, all with a single cable.
Derek Hulbert is CEO of Wyrestorm in Memphis, TN.
New Products with HDBaseT
Here are a handful of the most recent additions to the HDBaseT product mix from around the industry.
Composed of one HD-TX3-C transmitter and one HD-RX3-C receiver, the Crestron HDMI over HDBaseT extender (HD-EXT3-C) is designed to provide a solution for extending uncompressed high-definition video, audio, and control signals up to 330 feet (100 meters) over a single Cat-5e cable. A TX3 can be used to just the to extend an HDMI source over Cat-5e and connect directly to an HDBaseT-compliant display, or the use the RX3 to enable an HDMI display, AV processor, etc. to accept a signal from an HDBaseT source. This new model supports the use of UTP or STP wire.
Gefen’s GefenPRO 4x4 Matrix for HDMI w/4 ELR (extra long range) routes any four HD sources to any four displays or projectors using HDMI. All four outputs can be extended using one Cat-5 cable per display up to 330 feet (100m) in distance. Four sender units are packaged within the matrix enclosure, consolidating equipment for a cleaner install. Gefen’s ELR technology uses HDBaseT and enables a long distance delivery of 1080p full HD with multichannel audio and 3DTV pass-through.
SnapAV’s new Binary extenders transmit full, uncompressed HD, video, audio, and control signals with bi-directional IR and RS-232, through a single Cat-5e/6 LAN cable. The B-500- EXT-230-RS has a transmission of up to 230 feet, while the more robust B-500-EXT-330-RS can handle distances up to 330 feet and adds Ethernet pass-through. The new extenders also offer 4K with full 3D support and power over cable, eliminating the need for an external power supply at the receiver end, and include built-in ESD and surge protection for added reliability.
Atlona’s low-cost AT-HDTX (transmitter) and ATHDRX (receiver) are meant for moderately priced home theater installations, extending 1080p up to 230 feet. The AT-HD-IR extender series offers the same reliability of HDBaseT-Lite with the addition of IR control functions. Both pairs feature power over category cable (PoCc) to eliminate a power supply for the receiver. The HDMI extenders feature locking HDMI and USB firmware update ports, support for resolutions up to UltraHD (4Kx2K), and CEC pass-through. Along with support for 3D, they also support digital audio signals up to DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.
Wyrestorm’s two premium HDBaseT (HDBT) extender models, EX-1UTP-IR-100-EDID and EX-1UTP-IR-100-POE feature two-way IR, RS- 232 control, and 10/100 Ethernet pass through via a single cable. Multi-channel DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Digital TrueHD are fully supported, and to alleviate the handshaking issues, both feature forcible EDID settings via a dipswitch, with settings that either copy EDID from the display on the receiver end or force 1080p 3D, 1080p stereo, 1080i stereo, or 1080p 5.1 multi-channel EDID. Each model also features HDMI pass through on the transmitting end, for the connection of an additional display near the source. The EX-1UTPIR- 100-EDID requires a 5-volt power supply at both the transmitting and receiving end, but adds support for the fully uncompressed transmission of 4K “Ultra HD” video.