Hot New 4K Video Distribution Products at ISE 2016; Zigen, Wyrestorm, Metra, More

Zigen’s Buffer cheats HDCP 2.2; Wyrestorm offers affordable multiview; Metra goes 17m with 4K over HDMI; Will Crestron add DigitalMedia to Pyng?

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Yes, there is something in my professional life other than home automation. I’ve seen some pretty awesome audio/video products lately – particularly from CEDIA Expo 2015 – and I’ve heard of others making their debut at ISE 2016 next week in Amsterdam.

Here are some of the brands and stands to put on your hit list for the show. We'll keep you posted on other 4K UHD video distribution news.

Zigen Buffer, the HDCP 2.2 Work-Around

The trouble with HDCP 2.2 is that every video device downstream of the protected content – servers, switches, receivers, displays — must be compliant with the new 4K content-protection scheme to display any image at all.

So what do you do with all of those expensive video components you bought few years ago … or just last month? Don’t expect to distribute 4K movies from your new Kaleidescape Strato server to your stunning new HDR-enabled display, for example, if your matrix switch is stuck on yesterday’s HDCP.

At CEDIA Expo in October, Zigen came out with an HDCP 2.2 fix called The Buffer, which can “connect any HDCP revision source to any HDCP revision sink device,” according to the company:

If you ever connected a UHD Satellite STB, Sony FMP-X10 UHD player or NVidia Shield UHD Netflix account and got the message: “This TV does not support HDCP 2.2. Make sure you have HDCP 2.2 capable TV” or a similar, make sure you never see it again with The Buffer!

Several dealers happily discovered this device at CEDIA.

“With all of the yapping about backwards compatibility with HDCP 2.2, Zigen claims to have a magic box that will allow you to make a non-2.2 product work with a 2.2 television,” says Marty Hayse, purchasing director for Phoenix-based Dennis Sage Home Entertainment. “Every installer that does finals will want to have this on their truck.”

But another dealer questioned the legality of The Buffer.

Can you reference your interpretation of the legality of the “first repeater” rule? How a 2.2 HDCP Transmitter can be connected to a 2.2 HDCP repeater and allow the content downstream to non-2.2 HDCP repeaters and non-2.2 HDCP receivers? There are those that think this is legal, those that don’t. Why do you believe it’s legal?

Here’s what Zigen’s Jeff Murray had to say:

The intent for this device is to be used as a bridge for customers who purchased 4K displays before silicon (chips) were available. There are 10 million plus buyers of displays that fit into this category who are already buying 4K, 2.2 sources that don't work. Our engineers work within the scope of HDMI, HDBaseT, and HDCP to develop our products and are confident that use of The Buffer to display content purchased online (streaming) or viewed via STB or the new Blu-ray player on a display they purchased falls within the intent of the program.

WyreStorm Multiview Switcher/Scaler

4K TVs are opening up big opportunities in multi-viewing, that is, displaying multiple 1080p video streams on a single big screen. It used to be an expensive chore to split a screen into quadrants, but now the task has been simplified and prices reduced.

The new Dish Hopper 3 has split-screen viewing built in. Likewise, through its WebOS 3.0 platform, LG TVs can also display four streams at once.

In the custom world, WyreStorm introduced at CEDIA 2015 the SW-0402-MV-HDMI multiview PiP switcher and scaler with 4K output.

Marketing manager Christian Thomas says the product offers “offers considerably more for considerably less” than competitive products.

“It was a huge hit on our [CEDIA] booth and got a lot of attention from dealers as a man-cave centerpiece as well as an excellent alternative for sports bars and the like needing 4 x 40-inch TVs to show different content at the same time when they can just show 4 x 1080p on an 80-inch 4K TV.”

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Thomas says the WyreStorm team looked around and couldn’t find anything comparable in the market, especially at $2,798, the MSRP of the new product.

He provided CE Pro with a list of similar products and what they’re missing vis-à-vis the WyreStorm switcher. The competitors either lack component video inputs, don’t support 4K out, don’t scale or don’t offer IP-based control. Or they’re just not as flexible when it comes to multiview options.

Multiview PiP mode enables single, dual-view, tri-view or quad-view, with windows that can be resized and repositioned anywhere on the screen.

Thomas says the solution is “far more affordable and flexible than what’s out there, even when factoring in the cost of a top-end 80-inch 4K display.”

Metra/Ethereal 4K HDMI Extender

If you already have long-distance HDMI cables behind the wall and you really need to get 4K UHD with HDR through them, you can upgrade with Metra Home Theater Group’s (Ethereal) HDM-GA1 Gigabit Accelerator.

The device plugs into an existing in-wall passive HDMI cable up to 15 meters long (although the specs say 10 meters), and gets power from an external USB connector.

During CES 2016, Metra’s Brent McCall held up a Murideo 4K video tester, saying, “The longest cable ever passed was 4 meters,”

That was before an HDMI cable with the HDM-GA1 Accelerator tested at 4K to 17 meters.

“Add this to any legacy cable,” he says, “and turn it into 4K HDR.”

Here’s how Metra says it works:

The HDM-GA1 rebuilds the video channels to a level that exceeds the HDMI 2.0A standard while repairing the data timing clock channel. The simple ‘plug and play' device from Metra takes micro-technology and transforms any quality 24-gauge passive cable up to 15 meters to 4K with full signal integrity. This new innovation from Metra gives dealers with a very simple way to upgrade current installations to the latest 4K technology, meeting 4K/60, 4:4:4, HDR standards with existing HDMI cables. 

While at ISE, also take a look at Metra’s new M3B multi-source, multi-display coax-based HD video distribution system.

Unlike the MoCA standard, which delivers data and video over IP via coax, Metra’s product employs an RF modulation scheme so you don’t have to worry about all that IT stuff. It supports up to 100 source IDs, with devices controllable via IR.

“The M3B Coax system is an answer to current matrix needs,” says McCall “and we are continuing to develop this for the 4K market as well.”

More 4K Video Products at ISE

Dealers were thrilled when Crestron added lighting and other hardwired devices to to the Pyng control platform last year. Now the big question is: When is DigitalMedia video-distribution coming to Pyng?  ISE perhaps? (Crestron update here)

Regardless, Crestron has incorporated DM into Home Elements, a toolkit for adding complex integration modules to a Crestron system … without complex programming. So DM and a host of other devices and services can practically become part of Pyng through drop-down menus and other pre-configured tools.

Just Add Power is demonstrating its 3G Ultra HDIP solution in Europe for the first time, after a successful launch at CEDIA. The HD-over-IP switch distributes 4K video with down-conversion for 1080 displays and down-mixing for stereo audio.

Atlona plans to introduce at ISE the company’s first 4K-capable line of HDBaseT distribution amps for long-distance applications.

Now part of Nortek’s Core Brands group, Gefen has a new 4K matrix switcher that is brand new for ISE. Core Brands marketing manager says the new product is “truly category-altering” but that is all we can divulge at this time.

Key Digital has a couple of new Fat Cat Series 4K HDBaseT extenders, the KD-X400ProK and KD-X600ProK, with all the bells and whistles including EDID control, hot plug control, buffering, and IR and RS-232 up/down.

HDConnectvity will demonstrate for the first time at ISE the HDanywhere Control app for its mHub matrix switchers. The app lets installers configure rooms and EDID settings; homeowners then use the app for switching between HDMI sources and controlling “a number of popular HDMI entertainment devices” such as Apple TV and Amazon fire TV (with additional fees). The app will be available later in the year.

The 4×4 and 8×8 mHubs are shipping now: 4K HDCP 2.2 models are £2,499 and  £6,000, respectively, including VAT; 1080p models are £999  and £2,499, respectively. 

Keep checking back for more 4K video distribution news from ISE 2016

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About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson


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