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Atlona AT-PRO3HD66M Review

Jun 25, 2014 3:14 PM, Reviewer: Patrick Barron

Versatile switcher offers a variety of options.


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The AT-PRO3HD66M is a new switcher from Atlona with a full set of features that will work well in many applications, both commercial and residential. The AT-PRO3HD66M is a six-input and six-output switcher with HDMI inputs and HDBaseT outputs. The PRO3HD matrix switcher uses HDBaseT and power over category cable (PoCc) to more affordably extend display connections up to 230ft. The switcher is in an attractive black enclosure with a glossy front that would fit well in any high-end equipment rack. The HDBaseT technology allows each output to send video, audio, IR, and RS-232 to each of six outputs. Atlona’s AT-PRO3HDREC receiver is specially designed to work with the PRO3HD switcher family. This receiver offers support of up to 1080p or 1920x1200, 3D, 2Channel and multichannel audio, bidirectional RS-232, and IR signals. Several other Atlona HDBaseT receivers will work with this switcher as well so the choice for receiver is determined by which features are needed.

Testing was done using several HDMI inputs including a Blu-Ray player, Atlona’s AT-HD800 test generator, a laptop, and a portable camera. Outputs were connected directly to the HDMI output available on output 5 and 6, which mirrors the HDBaseT outputs on the switcher. Other sources were connected to HDBaseT outputs using the AT-PRO3HDREC receiver to Atlona’s AT-DIS7-PROHD test monitor and a 21in. computer monitor. A Crestron processor was used to control the switcher and to also generate RS-232 signals that were sent to the output connected to the AT-PRO3HDREC receiver. This was done to test the control capability of a display that would be connected to the HDBaseT receiver.

The setup was extremely simple and anyone with a basic understanding of HDMI could easily connect the inputs with a simple cable. I tested the HDBaseT receiver with a 50ft. length of Cat-6a shielded cable and moved it to several of the outputs to make sure all performed the same. The Crestron controller was connected to the switcher with both an RS-232 cable and a network cable in order to test both control methods. A simple program was written for the Crestron processor that used the control commands found in the switcher manual. The commands for RS-232 and TCP/IP were the same, so the choice to use TCP/IP or RS-232 for control would be up to the preference of the programmer. The switching worked flawlessly and quickly whether it was done from the front panel, IR remote control, RS-232, or TCP/IP from the control system. In order to send data to the displays connected to the HDBaseT outputs, a prefix was appended to the front of the desired control string when it was sent out to direct the message to the proper output. The same prefix was appended in front of any responses to indicate which output was responding. When testing the ability to send data to any of the HDBaseT outputs, the data received by a laptop’s com port connected to the receiver matched the desired data that was sent. The Atlona website lists specific control system manufacturers that are compatible, but any control system that is capable of sending IR, RS-232, or IP data should have no problem interfacing with and controlling the AT-PRO3HD66M.

There are several unique features that made this switcher an interesting product for system integrators. It is priced significantly less than the equivalent 8x8 switcher, so if the system needs do not dictate eight inputs or eight outputs, the cost difference can be the difference in winning or losing a small competitive bid. Outputs 1 through 4 have a built-in audio de-embedder. The audio output is digital, which would require a digital-to-analog converter when using an analog audio DSP. However, it is very useful when connecting to a digital input directly on a local AV receiver while sending the HDBaseT output to a display. The switcher has programmable I/O memories, which allow the user to save I/O routes for faster switching to the most commonly used configurations. For industrial mission-critical installations, there is an optional redundant power supply (AT-PW24V6.25A) in case the main power supply fails. Two HDMI outputs are available that mirror outputs 5 and 6. These mirrored outputs could be used to provide a confidence monitor to view locally the signal being sent to outputs 5 and 6.

Many different types of receivers can be used with the AT-PRO3HD66M depending on what features you need. All receivers available with the AT-PRO3HD66M switcher use HDBaseT technology. The AT-PRO3HDREC is a full-featured receiver that will extend IR, RS-232, audio, and video content between sources, and displays up to 230ft. PoCc enables the receiver to operate without a local power supply because the power is supplied over the cable. It has passthrough support of up to 1080p or 1920x1200, 3D, 2Channel, and multichannel audio, bidirectional RS-232, and IR signals. If RS-232 passthrough is not needed, the AT-HDRX-IR has all of the same features as the AT-PRO3HDREC without RS-232 at a lower price. It can extend ultra HD (4Kx2K) as far away as 130ft. and 1080p up to 230ft. Locking HDMI ports with a screw-in lock is provided for use with HDMI cables that have a screw-lock mechanism. CEC passthrough enables direct control of devices through the HDMI cable. If the application does not require IR passthrough but a box style receiver is desired, the AT-HDRX provides a cost-effective solution for receiving signals from the AT-PRO3HD66M. This no-frills receiver performs identically as the higher-priced receivers but it has fewer features at the lower price. All of the box style receivers include mounting ears so they can be attached to a cabinet, wall, lectern, or other structure where a display is nearby.

For installations where a wall-plate flush-mount wall receiver is needed, the AT-HDWP-IR can be used. This receiver uses PoCc to extend 1080p HDMI signal up to 230ft. and ultra HD (4Kx2K) up to 130ft., along with providing IR passthrough control. The two-gang U.S. decora wallplate is designed for in-wall installation behind a display. The same wallplate is available is a different design using a one-gang U.K. faceplate with the part number AT-HDWP-IR-UK. A side-exit RJ-45 improves cable routing by minimizing category cable bend radius, thus reducing the possibility of lower performance or loss of signal. This wallplate will work in the U.S. with the correct electrical backbox if a non-decora style is desired. The least expensive receiver that will work with the AT-PRO3HD66M is the two-gang U.S. decora wallplate AT-HDWP. This receiver wallplate uses PoCc to extend 1080p HDMI signal up to 230ft. with support for Ultra HD up to 130ft. The AT-HDWP eliminates the support for IR passthrough to provide cost savings in applications where RS-232 and IR passthrough are not required. The AT-HDWP is a two-gang U.S.-style decora wallplate. The same features and low price are available in a one-gang U.K.-style plate with the AT-HDWP-UK. As with the AT-HDWP-IR-UK, the AT-HDWP-UK also has a side-exit RJ-45 jack to improve cable routing in a tight wall space. With the side exit RH45 jack, the U.K. version requires less mounting depth than the U.S. version.

The switcher’s many parameters can be accessed through a secure web interface or through the front-panel menu. The baud rate for each HDBaseT output receiver can be set through the web interface. There are 12 EDID memories available that can be configured to each output or the highest common video resolution supported by all outputs will be chosen as a default.

Overall, the AT-PRO3HD66M is a versatile switcher that would function well in both residential and commercial markets. The ability to have different configurations, different types of outputs, and different types of HDBaseT receivers makes this product extremely open ended. The uses could range from a whole house audio video distribution system, corporate boardroom, network operation center to a multi-room combinable hotel ballroom.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

Pros:

· HDBaseT and Power over Category Cable (PoCc) extend HDMI video, multi-channel audio, and control signals up to 230ft. at 1080p@60Hz 36-bit color

· Support for six zones

· Complete easy control via TCP/IP, and bi-directional IR and RS-232 routing compatible with third-party controllers

· Locking HDMI and power connectors for reliability

· Better, more flexible audio performance S/PDIF Digital Audio Output sends multi-channel audio (up to Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1) to an AV receiver or zone amplifier

· Simultaneous displays through advanced HDCP key management

· Lossless HD Digital Audio Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio supported on mirrored HDMI outputs on PRO3HD66M

· USB port for field firmware updates

· Fast, reliable switching EDID presets loadable to any source connected to the matrix

· Rack/wall mount ears included

· Programmable RS-232 enables routing of control signals from a single controller port to each output device independently

Cons:

· Uses HDBaseT Lite chipset which limits distance to 230ft.

· Local audio output is digital, not analog as most audio DSPs use

· Applications: Residential, corporate boardrooms, network operation centers, and multiroom combinable hotel ballrooms

Price: $4,499.99 (AT-PRO3HD66M 6x6 HDMI Matrix Switch 1.4 with CAT5/6 outs)

SPECIFICATIONS

Bandwidth: 6.75 Gbps

Ports: AT-PRO3HD66M

Video input: 6 x HDMI

Video output: 6 x RJ45; 2 x HDMI mirrored

S/PDIF audio output: 4 x RCA

IR input: 7 x 3.5mm

IR output: 7 x 3.5mm

Firmware update: 1 x USB

LAN: RJ-45

RS-232: 1

Power consumption: 90W

Audio: HDMI and HDBaseT passes up to Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio; S/PDIF passes PCM 2-channel, Dolby 2.0, Dolby Digital, DTS 5.1

Distance: 230ft. @1080p over Cat-6a/7; 197ft. @1080p over Cat-5e/6

Resolution: Video: up to 1080p@60Hz 36-bit color; VESA: up to 1920x1200

Dimensions (H x W x D): 3.45”x17.24”x10.98”; (87.5mm x 438mm x 279mm)

Rack size: 2RU, 19in. standard electronics rack

Weight: 9.5lbs.; (4.34kg)

Temperature: Operating: 32°F to 104°F; Storage: (0°C to 40°C)

Certifications: CE, FCC, RoHS (power supply also UL cer



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