The HDBaseT Standard

The HDBaseT Standard: Making Distributed Video Practical.

Older Distributed Video Systems.

Distributed video has been around for a while now, but previous versions were much less practical than they are today. In the past, a home theater enthusiast who wanted to wire his or her entire home for audio and video would have to do so with an HDMI switch, like this one. The installer would then have to run HDMI cable over long distances to transmit the signal to each room.

Unfortunately though, the highest grade HDMI cable was only capable of transmitting a signal for around 40 feet without experiencing loss, and many cheaper cables would lose a signal in as little as 15 feet. This meant that, for a large home, signal boosters were required in order to make the system work. But these signal boosters would often amplify noise along with the signal itself, causing a degradation of picture and sound quality.

In addition, finding an efficient way to control a whole home video system was a significant problem. IR extension cables had to be run throughout the home and universal remotes placed in every room so that each individual user could control both the sources and the switch itself. For many families, these problems were a significant deterrence to them installing a whole home video system.

Newer video distribution systems have none of these problems, thanks to the creation of the HDBaseT standard.

The HDBaseT Standard.

The HD BaseT standard was originally developed by Valens Semiconducter, an Israeli based technology firm. However, Valens quickly realized that it needed help if it wanted this standard to have widespread adoption amongst electronics manufacturers. As a result, it created the HDBaseT Alliance, a group of manufacturers who work together to promote the standard. This alliance includes such giants as Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and LG, amongst many others.

Advantages of HDBaseT.

In products that carry the HDBaseT logo, five different kinds of signals are carried through a single cat5e or Cat6 cable. These five signals are: video, audio, control, Ethernet, and power. This is what the HDBaseT Alliance refers to as the "5 Play" feature of the standard.

There are two main advantages to this standard over the previous HDMI one. First, HDBaseT can transmit audio and video over distances of up to 328ft (100m), doing away with the need for noisy signal boosting equipment.

Second, since control and Ethernet signals can be sent through the cables in addition to audio/video, PCs and other Ethernet equipped devices can be networked together within the system. This prevents the installer from having to string IR extension cables through the walls of the home and from having to buy a universal remote for every room. Instead, each user can control the system using his or her smart phone, tablet, or whatever computing device happens to be laying around.

Of course, if the user wants to use a remote to control the system instead of a computing device, they can still do so directly through the IR sensor of the HDBaseT receiver in each room.

Disadvantages to HDBaseT.

Despite these advantages, there are two small disadvantages to an HD BaseT system. First, most cable boxes, Blu-Ray players, and other sources on the market still use IR technology for remote control. This means that IR repeaters have to be plugged into the HDBaseT matrix and placed in front of each source in order for it to be controlled by the system. However, IR cables are only necessary in the central room, not in the other rooms of the house.

Second, most television monitors still use HDMI for inputs. This means that an HDBaseT receiver must be placed in each room in order for the signal to be converted back to HDMI before being sent to the monitor. Over time, this second disadvantage should be less of a problem as newer televisions start to be manufactured with HD BaseT inputs.

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