The Days of HDMI may be Numbered – All Hail HDBaseT!

As part of my daily browsing, I came across an interesting article regarding HDMI and a new proposed standard with the moniker of “HDBaseT”. The networking gurus amongst us would know that we already have 10BASE-T (10Mbps Ethernet over twisted pair), 100BASE-T (100Mbps Fast Ethernet) and 1000BASE-T (1Gbps Ethernet).

Given those standards and naming conventions, it would seem that HDBaseT would a standard allowing the transmission of high definition video over a standard Ethernet cable with the associated perks, including:

  • cable distances of up to 100 metres,
  • the ability to have audio, video, network connectivity and Power over Ethernet (PoE) in a single cable,
  • future support for future 3D and 2Kx4K formats,
  • relative low cost of Cat 5e/6 cabling compared to HDMI/DVI cables (especially those Monster ones).

Personally, I think this is a brilliant idea. On the back of modern televisions there can be more sockets than you have fingers and toes. I’m sure people buy their brand new televisions and then have a look on the back and wonder which sockets to use let alone which device to connect to them. Having a single cable would definitely help out the average consumer in this respect.

Furthermore, Ethernet has proven itself to be quite versatile and has become fairly ubiquitous in workplaces and in an increasing number of homes. If you asked someone if they had a spare HDMI cable you might find that you are pushing the friendship a bit whereas if you asked them for an Ethernet cable you probably be far more successful. Even then, you could duck into any computer retailer and pick one up at a reasonable cost.

The low cost and widespread availability of Ethernet cables is certainly a positive, especially considering that we seem to end up with a new cable when we hit the ceiling of the current cable of the day. HDMI itself has quite a bit of headroom left (just under four times the resolution of current full high definition televisions). Nonetheless, I think this is a key selling point of HDBaseT and companies such as Monster should have cause for concern.

Probably the most exciting thing is the prospect of being able to stream content natively over a network. No doubt, we will see copy protection rear its head in amongst it all but I think this could be a game changer if content providers choose to play nicely. The NBN will unlock the potential for IPTV and it just makes sense to be able to stream content from this source across a home network.

Definitely keep your eyes out for HDBaseT over the next 12 to 18 months!

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