Hands On: HDanywhere Modular 4K Matrix Supports A/V Adaptability
CE Pro senior editor Robert Archer reviewed the HDanywhere Modular 4K products, which he found to have a robust, commercial-grade build quality.
Modular product concepts have been around for many years. In the world of custom computers, it’s routine for gamers and others to use this type of architecture to create machines that perform to their exact needs. This concept is not exclusive to computers either. A/V companies such Krell, Theta, Bryston, NAD and Digital Projection have employed this method as an easy way for dealers to customize and field service products.
Taking this approach to matrix switches is U.K.-based HDanywhere. Its Modular 4K product line offers dealers the ability to distribute Ultra HD throughout a home or business. The line includes two configurations — 4 x 4 or 8 x 8 — and from there dealers can tailor the product to 4 x 2, 3 x 4, 6 x 6, etc.
In addition to 4K, other features include HDBaseT signal transmission, Power over HDBaseT for streamlined installs, CEC control over HDMI, HDCP 2.2 provisions, IR and IP control, and third-party control for popular home automation systems.
The company shipped a preconfigured 4 x 4 unit to me with four HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs and two HDBaseT outputs. I tried the matrix with HDanywhere’s Lite Display receiver and Pro Display HDBaseT receiver.
I set up the system it to distribute a Comcast X1 cable box, Apple TV and Sony Blu-ray player between my bedroom and kitchen HDTVs. Using HDanywhere HDMI cables I connected the cable box to input one, the Blu-ray player to Input 2 and the Apple TV to Input 3. Using Output 1 I ran another HDMI cable to my bedroom TV and using Output 3, which had an HDBaseT card, I fed my kitchen TV.
Then, I plugged the matrix into a network switch to enable its WebOS IP control functions. Completing the install I took the Cat 6 output from my kitchen wall plate and connected the HDBaseT Lite receiver before concluding the review by swapping it out with the HDBaseT Pro receiver.
Using DHCP the matrix was given the address of 192.168.0.121 and typing this into the web browser of my MacBook Pro and iOS devices provided me fast access to a variety of functions that at the most basic level included choosing which source to assign to a particular output.
Throughout my time with the unit, it switched fast without any hesitation between sources and between zones. At times I encountered a few HDMI issues with my BD player, which is an older model that is no longer manufactured, and once or twice I had to reboot the matrix.
I thought the image quality of streaming media, video and broadcast looked exceptional. Content was bright and vivid, and neither receiver had any problem with the approximate 30 feet of transmission distance between devices.
Admittedly my system doesn’t even begin to push the potential of the HDanywhere ecosystem, but my overall experience was good. I also found the matrix to be well built — like a robust, commercial-grade product — and the IP options allow for a lot of integration flexibility.
Moreover, I was impressed by the cables with their sturdy, hand-assembled feel and metal connector sleeve, which speaks to a higher level of quality than a typical plastic type of boot. My only real criticism is that I think an app would be a better solution than an IP address. For all of the quality that the matrix and cables exude, having IP capabilities without an app feels lacking.
Given the modular nature and myriad control capabilities, I can definitely see the appeal of HDanywhere’s Modular 4K line from a dealer’s perspective. If the name is unfamiliar to you, the product family is certainly worth checking out.
CE Pro Verdict: HDanywhere Modular 4K Matrix
Pros: Modular nature supports the ultimate in hardware flexibility; robust build quality, solid picture quality with matrix and receivers.
Cons: The IP works well, it doesn’t work great; would be nice to see a companion app that leverages this powerful line of products’ potential; set of front-panel buttons for basic setup navigation would be nice.
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Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org
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