Although little known and hardly talked about, HDBaseT may be one of the biggest technological breakthroughs to come down the pike in the last several years. This unpresuming communications protocol may be what it takes to make our homes truly connected. Combining the communications needed for computer, television and controls in the same package, plus providing power over cable as well.
I remember going to the 1964 New York World’s Fair when I was a child. Amongst the many futuristic exhibits was a home where everything was connected electronically. The appliances, telephone and entertainment system were all able to communicate with each other, through a home computer. Here, almost 50 years later, we’re seeing the technology unfold which could make that vision a reality.
The Power of HDBaseT
HDBaseT takes the home LAN one huge step further, integrating the home entertainment system into the network. This allows the serpent’s nest of cables that are behind most home entertainment systems to be eliminated and replaced by a single Cat-5e or Cat-6 cable.
The actual amount of data that can be carried over HDBaseT is truly amazing. It can carry up to 20Gbps of uncompressed video and audio, including 3D, 4K and Ultra HD, 100Mbps of Ethernet, video gaming, USB support, control signals and even 100 watts of power. Even more incredible, when compared to the other video formats out there is that it can carry this up to 100 meters (328 feet), making up to eight stops along the way in a daisy-chain.
By comparison, HDMI cables can only be run for a maximum of 15 meters (49 feet). Another important comparison is price. HDMI cables are rather pricey, while Cat-5 cables are sufficiently common to drive their price down and make them more affordable.
The signals which travel over the HDBaseT system can be routed to any one of a number of devices, especially monitors, throughout the home. So a BluRay disk being played in one room can be seen in three different rooms of the house, while a video game being played can be monitored from a separate remote location on a fourth monitor, in another part of the house from where it is being played.
HDBaseT is build on a technology called 5Play, which converges all the various types of signals for transmission over a single Cat-5e or Cat-6 cable. This allows an impressive amount of data to travel across the same cable, simultaneously.
Video and Audio – Supports TV and PC video formats including standard, enhanced, high-definition and 3D video formats at full HD 1080.
Ethernet – Supports 100BaseT Ethernet local networking, providing 10 Mb of Ethernet bandwidth.
Power Over Cable – Provides up to 100 watts of power for devices, eliminating the need for a separate power cord for some devices.
Control Signals – A variety of controls signals, such as CED, RS232, USB and IR can be routed over HDBaseT, allowing devices to be controlled from other rooms.
This is a new technology, which is just starting to be implemented in new designs. We should see a wide range of HDBaseT devices start hitting the market over the next couple of years. The first of these will be monitors, but it will quickly include other video devices and computers which have HDBaseT compatibility built in.
There are currently external devices available on the market, allowing your current devices to be connected via HDBaseT. While an expensive solution to the problem, this does allow early integration of HDBaseT technology into your home. Or use of current devices into a future HDBaseT system.