How HDBaseT Simplifies AV Installs

How HDBaseT Simplifies Installs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

HDBaseT is the global standard for the distribution of ultra-high-definition video, audio, Ethernet, control, USB, and up to 100W of power over a single cable and across a distance of up to 328 feet or 100 meters. This worldwide one-cable standard for digital connectivity eliminates cable clutter without compromising performance. In fact, it offers more features, increased reach, simplified installs, and better performance than existing solutions. No wonder that pro AV, automotive, medical, education, government, and consumer markets have recognized the many advantages of HDBaseT and moved to adopt the technology.

The World Before HDBaseT

Prior to the introduction of HDBaseT in 2010, digital connectivity meant a maze of multiple cables. Individual cables were required to transmit video and audio, control systems and network devices, and power them. Multiple cables were expensive, created clutter and often had limited ranges depending on the signal transmitted: HDMI, for example, has a signal range of just 15 feet without resorting to expensive active cables.

These restrictions were felt as pro AV installs were needed in conference rooms, classrooms, and live event spaces. Room designers and integrators faced limitations on where devices could be positioned based on signal range. Moreover, running multiple cables was unsightly and created cluttered environments. Clean and efficient workplaces were dreamed about but impossible to realize since the only solutions often involved serious compromises on quality, distance, cost, and complexity.

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Enter HDBaseT

It’s not hyperbole to say that HDBaseT has revolutionized the pro AV market with its 5Play feature set: the converged and simultaneous delivery of uncompressed ultra-high-definition digital video and audio, Ethernet, control signals, USB 2.0, and up to 100W of power through a single, 100-meter/328-foot LAN cable. The current generation of HDBaseT can deliver up to 4K video, and 8K is already in the roadmap for the technology. HDBaseT has become the technology of choice for installs featuring videowalls, projectors, digital signage, and more—any environment where there is a need to transmit high-throughput content over long distances.

By eliminating multiple cables in favor of a single cable that serves multiple functions, HDBaseT offers users many advantages.

The convenience of a single cable impacts installs in a number of different ways. With the ability to provide long-distance transmission with a single hop, HDBaseT offers room designers and integrators the freedom to decide where to place devices for optimal usage. They no longer have to make concessions to the equipment, or compromise projectors, displays, and system functionality around where the gear needs to be. Instead, they are free to locate devices where they make the most sense in order to offer the best results for users and audiences.

A single cable also makes for much cleaner, simpler, and more efficient installs. Connections from outside equipment racks create messy racks—something nobody wants. And devices that are visible in a room, such as wall-mounted cameras, will look much nicer if only one cable is visible. There’s no doubt that fewer external connections are neater, look better, and reduce clutter.

A single cable reduces the amount of work an integrator has to do, as well. If LAN and power are available through HDBaseT, then outlets and network ports don’t need to be installed on both ends of a system. With HDBaseT, category (LAN) cable and UTP cables are easy to install and field-terminate and use standard RJ-45 lockable connectors. As an industry standard that relies on low-cost infrastructure without compromising on performance, HDBaseT reduces installation and maintenance costs and facilitates Interoperability of devices.

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HDBaseT in the Real World

Many companies like our own have been using and developing for HDBaseT since its introduction, and much equipment is HDBaseT enabled.  Universal switchers offer USB device extension for true, professional-grade Bring-Your-Own-Meeting (BYOM) performance.

Since many video conferencing participants in business and education prefer to present from their own laptops, they previously had to connect their laptop to the cameras, mics, and speakers of the room to play their content. That meant running a lot of cables to the conference table or using a separate PC. With many HDBaseT enabled units, featuring built-in, two-way USB 3.0 hub at the far end, users now gain immediate access to far-end USB mics and cameras. The full infrastructure of a modern conference room has become plug and play.

Users can utilize features like 5Play+ HDBaseT to transport 4K video, digital audio, power, RS232, LAN, and USB over a single cable. They can support 4K@60 video and offer native USB-C with up to 60W of power charging for a tablet or laptop.

The 328-foot range of HDBaseT delivers a huge amount of freedom, something users can take advantage of in almost every install. Think of the size of a university auditorium, for example, where there’s a podium or table on stage, a wall-mounted camera in the back of the room, and remote power and control. A single HDBaseT cable provides digital connectivity for the equipment in this large space, resulting in a clean, clutter-free environment without compromising on performance.

Camera extenders empower any HDMI camera with all the advantages of a native HDBaseT camera, including a 328-foot transmission range and remote power and control. It allows integrators to implement the user’s HDMI camera of choice, including auto tracking cameras, without needing an AC outlet at the camera, and to mount the camera anywhere without restrictions.

Using a single CAT cable, they transport 4K video, bi-directional LAN and RS232, and 2.5A of 12V power to drive a camera at the far end. A single outlet at the receiver end can power the transmitter, receiver, and camera, eliminating the need for a far-end outlet.

This means integrators have greater freedom to install the cameras users want – even the most advanced 4K HDMI cameras—wherever they are needed most. They also significantly lower the cost of installing a camera and eliminates the obstacles associated with getting power to a camera.

The right matrix switcher can take advantage of HDBaseT’s Lite version for simultaneous transmission of video, audio, and control signals up to 230 feet or 70 meters. We’ve introduced one that includes four HDMI 2.0 inputs and four sets of mirrored HDMI & HDBaseT Lite outputs, and can be controlled via bi-directional IR, RS232, and TCP/IP commands for great versatility in placing controllers wherever most convenient for the system.

Typically, a switcher requires a controller for itself in the rack and a controller behind each far-end display. Look for a switcher with built-in HDBaseT Lite outputs, as they’ll offer several options. The first is to have a single controller in the switcher rack and RS232 connections to the pass-through ports on the switcher. This provides direct RS232 connection through the HDBaseT lines to the corresponding outputs, for control of all the displays from the rack.

Another option is to place a single controller behind any display, which offers the same level of control over the switcher and all the displays as a controller located in the central rack. There are no constraints to controller location; they can be placed wherever it is most convenient for the system and its users without sacrificing any functionality.

The value of HDBaseT’s single-cable technology is its ability to provide the freedom and versatility to deliver installs featuring the devices the user wants, placed where the user wants them. The resulting installs are clean, efficient, smoothly-functioning systems with no compromises in performance. HDBaseT technology and HDBaseT-enabled products are the tools that will deliver the systems users envision today and in the future.

Jim Reinhart
CEO, Tekvox

In 2014, Jim Reinhart took the helm of TEKVOX where he saw the industry-changing potential of the company's 'drop-in' approach to deploying audio/visual infrastructure. A sixth-generation Texan, Reinhart is an active community volunteer in pursuits ranging from youth sports coaching, historic cemetery preservation, urban reforestation and community governance. Reinhart holds a BSEE from Rice University and an MBA from St. Edward’s University and is a registered professional engineer.