Hands On: Altinex AnyWire Sends HDMI 1080p Over Any Two Conductors
Fred Harding takes the 'ugliest' wire in his garage and sends high-def video over two conductors, thanks to Altinex's AnyWire HDMI transmitter and receiver. Verdict: Not an April Fools joke.
It all kind of started with a joke, when an integrator posted on RemoteCentral.com this announcement from Altinex, a provider of signal-management products: “Altinex is pleased to announce that we are able to send 1080p/60 HDMI signal over any type of wire. And when I say any, I mean any. We called this system ‘Anywire.’”
The dealer responded: “When I first heard about this, I accused Altinex of being late to deliver their April Fools' product ….”
Another posted, “This is like that flaky field terminated HDMI ends, that manufacturer marketing were insisting worked so well. Total BS!”
And another: “Anyway, this whole scheme reminds me of the miracle data compression products that claimed to be able to compress the data on whole hard drives to a few hundred or thousand bytes. There were a few grand press releases, then silence -- probably after their CTO discovered math and computer science.”
Upon learning that Anywire provides full HDCP and EDID compliance, yet another incredulous dealer wrote, “If this is true they should focus next on cancer research.”
Guess what? It seems the joke was on all those dealers. Altinex Anywhere does in fact work as advertised, as CE Pro contributor and Capitol Sales guru Fred Harding found out.
Thanks, Fred, for another great review. – Julie Jacobson
Hands On: Altinex AnyWire HDMI Transmitter/Receiver
by Fred Harding
I admit, I was more than skeptical when I first saw mention of this product, the Altinex AnyWire TP315-101 and TP315-102 (transmitter and receiver, respectively). When Julie Jacobson suggested I review it, I leapt at the opportunity.
HDMI is a remarkably complex signal -- especially when HDCP and EDID enter the equation -- and the idea that it could be sent down “any” wire, just two copper conductors, was preposterous to me.
I was wrong.
It works. It works well. I’m impressed.
Here’s the back story. The Altinex HDMI Over AnyWire system consists of a transmitter, and up to four receivers. Each of those devices needs AC power. Each of the devices has HDMI ins or outs, a pair of five-way binding posts, and a 3.5 stereo jack for IR purposes.
The transmitter offers a loop-through HDMI output, so you can feed a local display as well as whatever device lives at the end of whatever wire you might deploy. I’ll talk about a couple of issues with that later.
I went out to my garage and got the ugliest box of wire I could find. It was leftover category 3 wire -- 4 pair of 24 gauge wire, untwisted. I chose one pair of wires (the brown) for my test, and used solid brown for plus and white/brown for the minus. The footage markers on the wire indicated I have 160 feet of wire or so between the transmitter and receiver.
- HDMI over 2-conductor cable
- Automatic input/receiver detection
- HDMI resolutions 720p/1080p
- Transmission up to 300 meters (depending on wire type)
- IR pass-through control
- Local monitor input
- HDCP compliant
- Fixed EDID
- Available now
- Price: $375 each for transmitter and receiver
I hooked up my Blu-ray player to the transmitter, attached the wires to the binding posts on the transmitter and then the receiver, and hooked up the receiver to the Panasonic plasma TV set in my living room. I loaded a Blu-Ray title (the newer version of The Italian Job) and powered the assorted devices up. I can’t recall the sequence in which I did that; I did get some sort of error message initially. I pushed the reset button on the transmitter, and in about five seconds the movie started to play.The sample I had did not come with any documentation (it was a test), so I stumbled through set-up as best as I could. I can’t tell you if there was a specific activation sequence required, at least when I set up my test, as I hadn’t downloaded the manuals yet.
The film looked good. Details in shadow were present. The scene in the mountains on the snowy bridge looked good. I couldn’t see any artifacts in the boat-chase scenes. Did it look as good as the Blu-ray straight through? Depends on who is looking.
For most folks, they’d look at the image and say, “Wow. That looks great!”
Insight from Altinex
After the test was over, using a variety of discs, streaming images, and the like, I called the folks at Altinex and spoke to Jack Gershfeld, who filled me in on a lot of the details.
Here’s what he said:
First, there is some compression, and about a half-second of latency on the model I tested. If you had two displays next to each other -- one wired directly and one through the AnyWire product -- the lag would be noticeable and annoying. If you are planning on running sound along with picture at the remote location, you will want to address that by yanking audio off the remote display. That’s an easy fix.
Second, Jack clearly was smiling when I talked about the ugly wire. He said that the system will work nicely with anything between 12- and 30-gauge wire. It doesn’t care about twisted pair. If you have it, great. If you don’t, fine.
The signal travels on the surface of the wire, and if you have too heavy a gauge of wire, surface radiation can cause issues. Since I didn’t have 8-gauge speaker wire at home, I will take his word for it. Jack suggested not running four transmitters down one 4-pair wire, as surface radiation could cause problems.
Third, Jack reports that the system will support up to four receivers off a single transmitter. Simply daisy chain off the receiver’s binding posts and go to the second, third and fourth receivers. After four, your mileage will vary. I only had one receiver, so was unable to confirm or deny that.
Fourth, the system supports 200 Mbps throughput. That’s a lot of data, and clearly it can handle 1080p signals all day long. Down the road, 4K issues will be addressed, but knock it off, guys. This is amazing all by itself, and will solve a bunch of problems that exist today.
Fifth, the system supports bi-directional IR, and comes with devices to plug in to either end for transmit or receive. I did not test that, as it didn’t occur to me to try these things. I figure there are responsible RF repeating systems out there, and you will use this for HDMI, and if it does IR, great. But this is about HDMI.
Sixth, the system will support 1080p signals on a pair of 24-gauge wire on distances of 900 feet.
The system is currently not UL-certified, but Altinex is in process of getting that certification.
This is a very cool product that will clearly solve a lot of problems. Did I mention I was impressed?
Read Altinex AnyWire press release, next page.
Fred Harding is in sales and technical support at Capitol Sales, a full service distributor of electronic installation hardware. He is a frequent contributor to CE Pro, writing hands-on product reviews and technical tips. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Fred at email@example.com
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