Article first published as HDBaseT: The HDMI Killer? on Technorati.
Seven years after it’s inception there is finally another standard on the horizon that looks to overthrow HDMI’s reign on high-definition media. Founded by industry heavy-weights Samsung, LG, Valens Semiconductor and Sony Pictures the new standard, known as HDBaseT uses standard Cat5e/Cat6 cabling and standard RJ-45 connectors to transmit high-definition audio and video. The first specification for the HDBaseT standard has already been completed. You may recognise the Cat5/6 cables as the little blue (sometimes yellow) cables that you plug into your laptop or PC to connect to your modem.
The two most obvious benefits of using this medium is that these Cat5/6 cables are extremely cheap, easy to make and you can run them up to 100 metres in length. The standard will also support multi-hops which means if you connect your Cat5/6 cable to a hub every 100 metres you can run another 100 metre length (up to a maximum of 800 metres!).
HDMI cables support a passive cable length of approximately 5 to 7 metres and are very expensive, a quick look on the internet reveals a 5 metre HDMI cable costing on average between $20 – $40 USD. I terminate Cat5 and Cat6 cables as part of my work in IT and we charge only about $1.50 per metre. The cost savings are immediately obvious.
Both HDMI and HDBaseT standards support up to 10.2Gbps of uncompressed audio and video, so there will be no loss or gain in picture and audio quality. The use of Cat5/6 cables also allows PoE (Power of Ethernet) which can provide up to 100W of electricity to power things like remote TV’s etc.
HDBaseT will allow daisy-chaining and the use of existing network cable infrastructure, this will be especially appealing to commercial and industrial installations as running and terminating HDMI cables in the field is time consuming and expensive, especially over distance whereas a Cat5/6 cable is light weight, easy to run over long distances and extremely easy to terminate.
There are rumours that the second specification for HDBaseT is in the works and is expected to push the video bandwidth beyond the 10.2Gbps limit that is in the first specification.
There is a cool comparison chart that includes HDMI, DiiVA, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDBaseT features. You can view the chart here.
For more information on this awesome new standard visit the HDBaseT Alliance Website at http://hdbaset.org