HDBaseT Still Dreams of Major CE Adopters
Big CE brands have yet to embrace HDBaseT for audio, video, Internet, power and control over single Cat 5 cable. Introduced at CES 2012, HDBaseT-Lite might be the ticket.
HDBaseT was a little quiet this year at CES. The technology, the Alliance, and the developer Valens Semiconductor took shelter in a meeting room … hopefully meeting with major CE brands that want to implement the technology on a broad scale, which we have yet to see.
No doubt HDBaseT—which delivers audio, HD video, Ethernet data, control signals and power over a single Cat 5 cable—is rock solid and a blessing to home systems integrators and discriminating consumers.
It has been employed successfully by several respectable A/V and home-automation companies including AMX, Atlona, CE Labs, Crestron, Gefen, Kordz, Transformative Engineering, Vantage Controls, Wyrestorm, Zektor and others.
However, the adopters so far have all come from the high-end A/V space, and the price is still roughly $400-$900 per node, depending on the feature set. That’s not exactly what the founding members of the HDBaseT Alliance had in mind.
Towards a mass-market ‘standard’
Valens Semiconductor formed the Alliance in 2009, along with LG, Samsung and Sony Pictures. This year, 23 more members joined the group.
The plan was for mass-market consumer electronics manufacturers to incorporate the technology into their TVs and set-top boxes so we could have a “standard” for delivering high-speed content and other services (including HDCP) over a single cable.
In an ideal world, an HDBaseT RJ-45 jack would replace an external HDMI connector on a TV set, as demonstrated here; however the HDMI mechanics will still exist behind the case.
In theory, you would just take the existing Cat 5 behind your walls, and plug it into your TV, Blu-ray player, switcher, or other A/V component ... and voila! you would have audio, video, Internet, control and power.
The problem for traditional CE companies seems to be the cost of HDBaseT. It does not replace HDMI (as many champions have wrongly assumed); it complements HDMI. It adds a physical and software layer—i.e., cost—to the established connector.
Although the user might see only an RJ-45 port coming out of a TV (for example), the HDMI mechanics would still be in an HDBaseT device, just hidden behind the case.
In fact, the HDBaseT Alliance showed such working prototypes of “native” HDBaseT devices at CES—a Samsung TV and a Sony A/V receiver.
Where the TV might have had an HDMI connector, it now had a Cat 5 jack; the Zone 2 of the AVR likewise was converted from HDMI-only to HDBaseT. The HDMI-to-HDBaseT handiwork was all hidden inside of the components.
Eli Ofek of Valens was careful to note that the kludging was done by the HDBaseT Alliance, not by the component makers themselves.
In fact, none of the Alliance founders—nor any other major CE brand, for that matter—has indicated it would implement HDBaseT.
If it is not the cost of HDBaseT that keeps CE makers at bay, perhaps it is the size of the technology. After all, TVs and other CE devices are shrinking by the minute.
To that end, Valens has introduced the smaller, cheaper VS010 chipset, also known as HDBaseT-Lite.
Instead of the “5Play” feature set of the original HDBaseT – HD video, audio, Ethernet, power and control signals – the Lite version is more like 3.5Play. There is no Ethernet data, and power is limited. Still, you can get about 70m over Cat 5 with HDBaseT-Lite, versus 100m with the full version.
The new VS010 transmitter and receiver are smaller and less expensive than the original VS100. Hopefully that will be the ticket for broader adoption; however, you would think that CE manufacturers might want to combine an HDMI connector with a standard Ethernet port to create one super-connector that is HDBaseT.
The HDBaseT camera reference design solution can accept multiple 1080p sensor cameras and transmit uncompressed high definition video over a single 150 meter CAT5e cable to the DVR, as well as power and various controls. As opposed to IP cameras, this camera is simpler, less expensive and provides an excellent image quality with zero latency. It facilitates the implementation of enhanced video analytics in the DVR with best monitoring quality in real time. This architecture simplifies installation and does not require any special configuration or maintenance, and therefore is ideal for analog and PTZ camera replacement or upgrade.
All HDBaseT articles on CEPro.com
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HDBaseT Alliance Announces 23 New Members
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AMX Adopts HDBaseT for Long-Distance HDMI
Inside HDBaseT Technology: A Better HDMI Extender
HDBaseT Is Not HDMI
LG, Samsung, Sony Pictures to Launch HDBaseT Alliance - Press Release
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Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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