Markets

Technology Showcase: HDMI Distribution

With broad support in consumer electronics, HDMI is moving on up. 6/04/2009 8:00 AM Eastern

Technology Showcase: HDMI Distribution

Jun 4, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

With broad support in consumer electronics, HDMI is moving on up.




Gefen 
GTV-WHDMI

Gefen GTV-WHDMI

Throughout its history, HDMI has been a rapidly evolving technology, and it poses a moving target to those trying to keep up with the expanded capabilities afforded by top-quality peripheral gear. Since its first commercial appearance in 2003, the same year Silicon Image opened the first authorized testing center for HDMI products, the technology has been adopted by more than 800 computer and consumer electronics companies. That makes HDMI one of the fastest techno-movers of the decade, and it’s now crossing the threshold in surpassing DVI in total sales. However, there is still a substantial market for both, and this is reflected in the wide variety of consumer and professional video products incorporating a combination of the two.

  Related Links

Technology Showcase: Fiber-optic Video Extenders
With long-term fiber costs going down and copper going up and the new considerations on weight and fuel use for mobile units, the momentum that fiber...

Technology Showcase: Power Conditioners
Power, especially in sound and video systems, must be controlled. From the access point in the building and on, unfiltered power is a danger to each component in an AV layout...

Each new HDMI version has used virtually the same hardware while increasing the bandwidth and capabilities of the signals carried. From version 1.0 to 1.3, we’ve seen clock rates increase to 340MHz from 165MHz and video pixel rates up to 680MHz on dual-link connections. Eight-channel audio is also carried at sample rates up to 192kHz, and IEC61937-compliant compressed audio streams, including Dolby Digital and DTS, are now supported.

As of June 2006, HDMI 1.3 has provided support for 1440p (2560x1600), deep color with bit depths up to 48 bits per color, and automatic lip-sync correction. It delivers all this and more through the smaller Type C connector, but it took us a while to get there. For users, there is no difference between HDMI 1.3, 1.3a, and 1.3b. These only outline testing and manufacturing issues and do not vary in features or functionality. At the time the standard was first announced, there was no technical infrastructure to support it and no products to deliver its promises to the public. Commercially, the technology has only hit full stride within the past two years.

Cable is king

The typical new HDMI transmission is like a busy expressway with different signals going at different speeds in both directions. The quality of the copper cable carrying these signals has become critical to the point that one that had been carrying the earlier HDMI traffic from an older player might not have any video signal from a new source device. The limitations of lesser cabling with the newer HDMI signals have been learned by all too many home-theater buffs who permanently installed older and cheaper cable inside the walls of their new homes only to upgrade the players and monitors and find that they don’t see each other. Reclocking and equalization are features that have become vital to maximizing the transmission distance and video clarity on quality HDMI distribution devices. As previously noted, it’s no longer a one-way street from player to display. EDID signals that allow the display to identify itself and allow the signal source to configure its output to suit that display must also have a clear path.

At the bit rates necessary to feed high-def video to modern displays, the capacitance in copper-pair cable results in insertion loss. This eventually causes the receiving display trouble in telling ones from zeros in the digital stream, and it doesn’t take long for the picture to develop sparkles or flashes, or to disappear completely. Imperfections in the cable can also cause skew from differences in the arrival time of the various color signals. Heavier-gauge copper conductors and active signal equalization can minimize these effects and maximize the distance over which a quality HDMI signal can be carried. These and other factors make it more challenging to select quality gear in the HDMI realm, and it pays to shop around. Let’s have a look at what the current market in HDMI distribution has to offer. The products included here use HDMI connections on the inputs and carry audio within those same connectors to multiple outputs.


Technology Showcase: HDMI Distribution

Jun 4, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

With broad support in consumer electronics, HDMI is moving on up.




Apogee HDMISP2X4

Apogee HDMISP2X4

The Apogee HDMISP2X4 amplifier/ splitter supports video bandwidth up to 2.25Gbps/225MHz, and it can be placed at the end of a long HDMI cable to regenerate the signal and switch any two HDMI sources into any or all of four HDMI display devices, including monitors and projectors. The units can be daisy-chained to provide more switching over a greater distance and accept a DDC input signal of 5V peak-to-peak. The HDMISP2X4 can support video resolutions of 480i, 576i, 1080i, 480p, 576p, 720p, and 1080p at a 60Hz vertical scan rate. Fully HDMI 1.3b-compliant, the device uses a 5VDC external power supply and consumes no more than 15W. Applications include digital signage, corporate training rooms, data-center control, university classrooms, and security.

Atlona AT-HD88M-SR

Atlona AT-HD88M-SR

Just released in May, the AT-HD88M-SR HDMI matrix switcher from Atlona uses a somewhat different approach in that it distributes the HDMI signals with integrated audio over low-cost Cat-5/5e LAN cable with an IR pass-through. The unit can route any of eight individual HDMI 1.3b signals with 7.1-channel audio to displays and switch them locally or by remote. The IR pass-through allows the IR control on a DVD, Blu-ray, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, or other HDMI player devices to be used from the location of the display. The fully HDCP-compliant AV signals can extend up to 115ft. at resolutions up to 1080p using an embedded Silicon Image chipset.

Audio Authority HMX-144

Audio Authority HMX-144

The HMX-144 4x4 HDMI matrix switcher from Audio Authority delivers any of four HDMI 1.3-compliant source signals with high-bit-rate audio to any or all of four display devices with 480i, 480p, 1080i, 1080p, or multiple computer resolutions with support for deep color at 10 bits per TMDS channel on HDMI Type A connectors. Functions are controllable on the front panel, with RS-232 on a rear-mounted 9-pin D-sub connector, or IR by handheld remote. The audio supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital True HD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and LPCM. The unit accepts HDMI screw-type locking connectors, and the signals are HDCP 1.1-compliant. The reconstituted output signal is jitter-free, and the compensated signal is clock-phase adjusted with a single-link data rate of 2.25Gbps and TMDS clock speed of 225MHz.

Black Box Network Services AC552A-4

Black Box Network Services AC552A-4

Black Box Network Services allows users to split a single HDMI 1.2-compliant signal from a DVD player, D-VHS player, satellite receiver, digital recorder, or other source among up to four display devices with the AC552A-4 HDMI splitter. The unit provides 1.65Gbps of bandwidth for clear amplification of HDMI signals, and buffered outputs can drive signals up to 40ft. Up to three can be cascaded for additional HDCP 1.1- and DVI 1.0-compliant outputs with video resolutions of up to 1080p. Setup is plug-and-play, and this model has an estimated mean time between failures (MTBF) of 95,000 hours. The unit has an LED power indicator with an autosensing power supply.

Brando 1 In 4 Out

Brando 1 In 4 Out

Brando offers its 1 In 4 Out HDMI splitter to distribute one HDMI input with a video resolution of up to 1080p to four outputs with a single-link maximum resolution of 1920x1200 and video bandwidth up to 4.95Gbps. The HDMI 1.3, HDCP-compliant unit is plug-and-play, ready to go right out of the box, and it features gold-plated connectors. Power consumption is 5W, and the unit comes with an external 5V, 50mA power adapter and a user manual.

The CE Labs HM81DA HDMI distribution amplifier fits into a 1RU space and distributes one HDMI input to eight HDMI outputs with a video resolution of up to 1080p at a maximum cable distance of 30ft. The unit is HDCP-compliant, and it supports high-resolution displays of UXGA, 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. Several units can be cascaded for additional outputs. The unit weighs in at 1.3lbs., and it comes with a 9VDC, 1-amp power adapter.


Technology Showcase: HDMI Distribution

Jun 4, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

With broad support in consumer electronics, HDMI is moving on up.




DVIGear DVI-488-MX-HD1

DVIGear DVI-488-MX-HD1

The DVI-488-MX-HD1 8x8 HDMI matrix routing switcher from DVIGear allows any of eight HDMI 1.3, DVI 1.0-compliant inputs to be switched to any combination of outputs with no switching latency or frame delay. The reclocked and jitter-free signals can travel cable lengths up to 197ft. HD audio transmission and sample-rate conversion allow Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD to be used along with legacy audio formats. There are additional SPDIF digital audio connectors for all HDMI outputs, and the unit can be controlled through RS-232/422, TCP/IP, and web browser. The DVI-488-MX-HD1 supports PC resolutions up to 1920x1200 or 2048x1080 and HDTV resolutions up to 1080p/12-bit on gold-plated connectors, and it includes four-level status indicators for all inputs. A wide range of display compatibility is ensured through advanced EDID management with 100 memories.

Freeport offers the HF-18 series 1x8 HDMI splitter with plug-and-play operation for sending 1.65Gbps HDMI 1.3, HDCP-compatible video signals at up to 1080p resolution from one source to as many as eight displays. Multiple units can be joined together for more outputs, and the inputs can be multiplied by using the unit in conjunction with Freeport’s HDMI switcher. The unit supports VGA, SVGA, and SXGA (1280x1024) PC resolutions. All connections are HDMI Type A. The HF-18 series models come with a 6VDC, 3-amp power adapter.

One of the few companies into wireless HDMI distribution, Gefen recently introduced the GefenTV Wireless for HDMI Extender (GTV-WHDMI) for delivery of 1080p30 or 1080i60 video, 5.1 digital audio, and analog stereo sound to up to five locations in broadcast mode at distances up to 100ft. over 5GHz radio waves with a clear line of sight. HDCP-encrypted signals may only be used with one sender and one receiver operating in unicast mode. The video signals are fully HDMI 1.2-compliant, and PCM audio is supported when using HDMI at 32kHz, 44.1kHz, and 48kHz. The package includes one sender; one receiver; two universal 5VDC, 2.6-amp power supplies; one 6ft. HDMI cable; and a user manual.

The SP-HDMI-4A from Hall Research Technologies is a video splitter that distributes one HDMI input on a Type A connector to four HDMI outputs and supports PC resolutions from 480p to 1080p at 1.65Gbps. Using output 4, the SP-HDMI-4A can be cascaded up to three levels for more outputs, and each of the buffered outputs can run up to 40ft. at 1080p. The plug-and-play unit is HDMI 1.1-, HDCP 1.1-, and DVI 1.0-compliant, and it includes an LED power indicator on the front panel. The package includes the splitter, one universal switching power supply, and a user manual.

Intelix HDMI-2X8

Intelix HDMI-2X8

The Intelix HDMI-2X8 distribution amplifier has one HDMI input and one DVI input with optional digital SPDIF or optical audio. The front panel has a switch to select between the two video sources. The HDCP-compliant signal is routed to all eight outputs through HDMI Type A connectors, and multiple units may be linked at a distance of up to 30ft. The unit supports video resolutions up to 1080p, and it accommodates an input DDC signal of 5V peak-to-peak. The 2RU metal chassis is rackmountable, and the unit comes with a 12VDC power supply and rackmounting ears. The shipping weight is 9lbs., and power consumption is 15W.

IOGear GVS184

IOGear GVS184

The GVS184 4-Port HDMI splitter from IOGear distributes a single HDMI 1.3b, HDCP-compliant input signal to four outputs with a maximum data rate of 2.25Gbps in video resolutions from 480i to 1080p. The unit can automatically downscale video to fit supported resolutions for any display that supports automatic video-resolution scaling. The plug-and-play unit also features a front-panel reset button along with power and active-port LEDs. The package includes a power adapter, a quick-start guide, and a warranty card.


Technology Showcase: HDMI Distribution

Jun 4, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

With broad support in consumer electronics, HDMI is moving on up.




Kramer Electronics offers the VM-216 HDMI 2x1:16 distribution amplifier with reclocking and equalization on either of two selectable HDCP-compliant input signals, which are distributed to 16 independent outputs. The unit can store and recall a default EDID setting in nonvolatile memory from the output. The unit is RS-232-controllable, and it supports HDMI 1.1 with output status LEDs and handles up to 1.65Gbps of bandwidth per graphic channel. The 1RU rackmountable unit connects directly to 110VAC, and it weighs in at 5.5lbs.

Octava 4x4 HDMI

Octava 4x4 HDMI

The Octava 4x4 HDMI matrix switch sends up to four HDMI 1.3 sources to four displays on HDMI Type A connectors with picture-by-picture or the same picture on all outputs using Octava’s Clear Eye transmission line and intersymbol interference (ISI) reduction design for up to 256 different viewing combinations. For projectors, cable runs of up to 30ft. may be used, and extenders can take the distance up to 100ft. The inputs are DVI-D backward-compatible and support video resolutions of 480p, 720i/p, and 1080i/p at data rates up to 6.75Gbps. The 1RU unit is RS-232-controllable, and it includes a 5VDC, 2.5-amp power supply, rackmounting ears, an IR remote, and an external IR jack for infrared-control extension. The front panel also has indicator lights for local identification of the routing configuration as it is selected.

RTCom HD-D210

RTCom HD-D210

The HD-D210 HDMI distribution amplifier from RTCom allows one or two HDCP-compliant digital input sources to be sent to up to 10 digital displays without signal loss on HDMI Type A single-link connectors for distances up to 50ft. using high-quality HDMI cables. The unit saves EDID data from the displays on EEPROM, and it supports bandwidths from 25MHz to 165MHz and video resolutions of 480p, 720p, and 1080i/p. The unit uses 15W with a 12VDC, 3-amp power supply. The exclusive U.S. distributor for RTCom is Aurora Multimedia.

Providing single-link HDMI operation at the maximum TDMS rate of 1.65Gbps at resolutions up to 1080p and 1920x1200, the HDR4X4 from Smart-AVI is a nonblocking matrix switch designed for routing any four computers to any combination of four HDMI displays through HDMI Type A connectors. The device can send HDMI signals up to 50ft. over high-quality cables and can be controlled from the front panel, from an IR remote, or by RS-232 from a connected computer. The router accepts input signals at 1.2V and 5V DDC. The front panel includes input- and output-selection buttons and a large, easy-to-read series of digital displays and LED indicators. The 1RU chassis weighs a little more than 4lbs., and the unit comes with a 5VDC, 2-amp power supply.

The ST124HDMI distribution amplifier with HDCP from StarTech is designed to distribute a single 1.65Gbps HDMI signal to up to four displays through HDMI Type A connections at computer resolutions from VGA to UXGA and HDTV resolutions from 480i to 1080p. Units can be cascaded for more outputs, and they are HDMI 1.1- and HDCP 1.1-compliant. The front panel has three Type A HDMI output connectors. The back panel has one HDMI output, one HDMI input, a sync light that activates when an HDMI source is connected, and a power LED indicator. The package includes an instruction manual and a 5VDC power adapter.

TV One 1T-DA-658

TV One 1T-DA-658

The 1T-DA-658 HDMI distribution amplifier from TV One can provide eight HDCP-compliant outputs from a single HDMI 1.3 input; 10- and 12-bit deep color; and Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS-HD Master Audio digital sound. Bandwidth extends to 2.25Gbps, and signals are amplified and equalized for maximum distance capability. Units may be cascaded for more outputs, and the destination monitor EDID is supported. DVI 1.0 signals are supported as well. The rear panel includes all the input and output HDMI Type A connectors, along with the 5VDC power connection and a switch for internal or automatic EDID selection. This dictates whether the device determines the connected display’s EDID number automatically or uses an internal information table. Also on the rear panel, above the HDMI connectors, are removable screws that can be replaced with hex screws to accommodate lockable HDMI connectors. On the front are the HDMI/DVI, HDCP, sync, and power LED indicators, along with a signal indicator for each output connection point to indicate successful connection to the channel’s respective display device.


Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!
Past Issues
July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014