HDBaseT is not an “HDMI killer” as many in the media would lead you to believe.
In fact, the technology—which can deliver HDMI signals over a single Cat 5 cable—requires an HDMI chipset at both the transmitting (source) and receiving (display) ends – just like any other HDMI-over-Cat 5 solution.
Granted, the HDMI stack can be hidden in the source and display, exposing only a single Cat 5 connector, rather than an HDMI port.
So, while HDBaseT in its current iteration will not replace HDMI technology, it may end up supplanting the current HDMI cabling options, especially the wide variety of HDMI extenders used for longer distances.
In any case, “We’re not trying to be an HDMI extender,” says Micha Risling, VP of sales and marketing for Valens Semiconductor, which developed HDBaseT. “It’s only one segment that we’re after simply because we can. But we’re trying to introduce much, much more than that.”
In the HDBaseT universe, video, audio and related data signals are processed by the HDMI chip as usual, and HDBaseT takes it from there.
In addition to HDMI pass-through, the technology delivers:
- Uncompressed video including 4Kx2K resolution, HDMI pass-through and 3D support + audio + 100BaseT Ethernet + IR/serial control + power (up to 100 watts) … all over a single Cat 5 cable
- Extreme distances of up to 100 meters (330 feet) – more if you shed DRM limitations
- Potentially a standard that studios and CE manufacturers can all embrace
HDBaseT adds to HDMI, doesn’t replace it
A Standard for HDMI Extenders?
Although HDMI extenders are not the end game for Valens, they represent a good starting point for HDBaseT.
One big problem with HDMI extenders today is that the transmitters and receivers are proprietary from vendor to vendor (and sometimes device to device), with no “electrical interoperability” between them.
That means you have to use a specific vendor’s products for all connection points within the HDMI chain. It also means that no one vendor’s technology is standardized across the entire CE industry for inclusion into Blu-ray players, A/V receivers, HDMI Matrix Switchers, TV sets, or test tools.
That’s the problem that Valens Semiconductor is hoping to solve with its newly promoted (but not newly formed) HDBaseT Alliance. The Alliance was first announced in December 2009 by Valens and partners LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The group got a boost on June 29 of this year when it ratified the HDBaseT 1.0 spec, incorporated the alliance, and transformed otherwise cautious A/V editors into love-struck hype-mongers declaring the death of HDMI (we wish).
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.