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The next home-networking revolution will be wired

Michael Brown | May 2, 2013
This is not yesterday's clunky ethernet, nor today's flaky wireless. The new HDBaseT standard uses just one cable for all data and power.


Using the HDBaseT standard, a single cable can deliver data, high-def digital video and audio, control data, and electrical power a distance of 328 feet.

HDBaseT is a great standard, but it's taken some time for real-world products to come to market. Most of the devices available today are designed for custom installations in high-end homes, corporate offices, or school facilities.

Atlona Technologies' AT-PRO2HDREC ($350), for example, is an HDMI extender that can carry an HDMI signal (with resolution of up to 1920 by 1200 pixels), multichannel audio, ethernet, and bidirectional infrared and RS-232 control signals up to 300 feet. But it must be paired with Atlona's $8000 AT-PRO2HD88M 8-by-8 matrix switcher. The matrix switcher has eight HDMI inputs and eight RJ-45 outputs (for CAT5e/6/7 ethernet cables), so it's more than most consumers will need.

Consumer-priced products are coming soon

Gefen has a simpler product. A pair of its  EXT-HDMI 1.3-CAT5-ELR devices (one acting as a transmitter and the other acting as a receiver) can carry an HDMI signal (with a resolution of up to 4K), multichannel audio, and ethernet data up to 330 feet. These boxes are street-priced at around $600 each.


Gefen's EXT-HDMI 1.3-CAT5-ELR uses HDBaseT technology to extend the range of an HDMI connection to 330 feet using CAT5 cable.

But just as companies such as AT&T, Lowes, and Vivint are developing sophisticated home-control systems that can fit within middle-class family budgets, mass-market manufacturers such as Belkin, Epson, Onkyo, and Pioneer--each of which announced its intention to join the HDBaseT Alliance at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show--will bring this home-networking standard into the mainstream. (The HDBaseT Alliance was founded in 2010 by LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony Pictures, and Valens Semiconductor.)

HDBaseT makes it easy to stream ultra-high-def video and audio, control signals, and data, and it has the power to run a display over a single cable that can run as long as 328 feet. It's not quite as convenient as Wi-Fi, but it does more and it's a whole lot more reliable. You'll find a list of HDBaseT certified products here.

 

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