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Technology Showcase: HDMI Extenders

May 26, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

Products to extend HDMI's reach without sacrificing signal quality.

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Amimon, a proponent of the WHDI technology, partnered with Belkin to demonstrate wireless HDTV connectivity in the 5GHz unlicensed band at the 2008 International CES. Attendees experienced the Belkin solution wirelessly distributing HD content between HD video source devices such as Blu-ray Disc players and HDTVs via WHDI links of uncompressed HD video. WHDI has been demonstrated at ranges of up to 100ft. through walls with a latency of less than 1 millisecond.

In April, Sharp announced it would offer a WHDI link for its new X series ultra-thin LCD TVs in 37in., 42in., and 46in. screen sizes. This series adopts a discrete component configuration that separates the display section from the tuner section, and these two sections can be connected with a cable or by using an optional wireless video transmitter unit that employs Amimon's WHDI technology.

Atlona Technologies is the only company at this time that has HDMI balun system, which is using a single Cat-5 or Cat-6 wire, the AT-HDMI40SRS. The Atlona HDMI extenders can handle any resolution up to 1080p out to 130ft., and 1080i up to 200ft. Installation of the Atlona AT-HDMI40SRS HDMI extender over Cat-5 is quick and easy. Simply place the sender unit next to your HDTV source such as a DVD player, place the receiver unit next to your display, and then connect a single Cat-5 cable between them. The signal will be sent with excellent video quality. Atlona does recommend installers use shielded Cat-5 or Cat-5 wire to maintain the best signal.

The Impact Acoustics 4-port HDMI Splitter with HDCP compatibility that is being marketed by Cables to Go will connect an HDMI-based source to up to four HDTV displays equipped with HDMI inputs. HDCP compatibility means this splitter will work with high-definition video from sources including DirecTV, Dish Network, cable television, and Blu-ray Disc players. Impact Acoustics splitters are designed to support 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p resolutions. Because they are cascadable up to three layers, one output may be used to feed up to 64 displays from one source. Equalizer circuitry in the Impact Acoustics 4-Port HDMI Splitter enables it to transmit an HDMI signal to distances of up to 80ft. between source and display.

The DM-MD16×16 HDMI distribution matrix switcher from Crestron Electronics processes and distributes HDMI 1.3a, all forms of analog video, 2-channel stereo, and 7.1 surround sound simultaneously — along with Ethernet, USB, control, and power all on a single cable. Several different transmitters and receivers can be paired together to create a custom solution. The transmitters completely regenerate the signal and dynamically adjust the characteristics to match the signal and wire length to achieve optimal signal quality over long distances. All signals are processed and can loop through as HDMI to another Crestron DigitalMedia (DM) switcher, or they can be distributed via Crestron DigitalMedia. Once the DM signal gets to the end point, a DM Room Solution Box converts the signal to HDMI along with the HDCP.

Two HDMI sources can now be seen legally and reliably on up to 10 HDTVs with the PureLink HD-2100 2×10 distribution amplifier from Dtrovision. The reference to “legal” is to emphasize Dtrovision's adherence to the requirements of HDCP in its HDMI systems because its PureLink HD-2100 2×10 distribution amplifier provides a discrete HDCP output on each channel, which is a requirement for proper 1080p HD content reproduction. Signal sync time is greatly reduced, shortening the long boot-up time for Blu-ray players, thereby increasing the use and enjoyment of HD programming with HDCP content protection. Signal regeneration allows longer distance connectivity with copper cables — up to 30ft. at 1080p, and Dtrovision's rigorous aging tests ensure 100,000-plus trouble-free hours of operation.

The Extron Electronics HDMI 201 A D transmitter and receiver set enables HDMI signals to be carried up to 200ft. over two Cat-5 cables. It can also accept and transmit stereo audio along with RS-232 or IR signals. For convenient system integration, the HDMI 201 A D supports transmission of balanced or unbalanced stereo audio signals when a separate audio cable is installed between the transmitter and the receiver. In addition, either the transmitter or receiver can be remotely powered over this cabling, so that external power is necessary for only one of the devices. The use of STP (shielded twisted pair) cabling provides added protection from outside interference and increases overall signal transmission distances. Extron's HDMI 201 A D transmitter and receiver are designed for wall mounting with the included Decora-style wallplates.

The HDMI RS232 Extender made by Gefen sends flawless HDMI, RS-232, and IR signals over two economical Cat-5 cables up to 150ft. at 1080p resolution or 300ft. at 1080i. Completely HDCP-compliant, Gefen's HDMI RS232 Extender supports resolutions up to 2K and 1920×1200. You simply connect the HDMI RS232 Extender sender unit to your HDMI and RS-232 source using the supplied cables and your RS-232 device, and then the HDMI display plugs into the HDMI RS232 Extender's receiver unit. You can also use the optional Gefen IR Emitter cable to extend IR signals.

Chips from Gennum were the first to be able to handle the extended capabilities of the HDMI specification version 1.3. Gennum's ActiveConnect technology is capable of streaming high-performance HDMI at up to 50 meters, and it offers a reliable and robust method of extending HDMI signals over standard RGBH&V (red, green, blue, horizontal sync, and vertical sync) cables that are terminated with a BNC connector. At January's CES Unveiled press event at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, Gennum demonstrated the capability of linking a 24in. 1080p display to a Blu-ray Disc player, showcasing full HDMI 1.3 performance via 76.2 meters of inexpensive copper cable. Among other manufacturers, Gefen has incorporated Gennum's chips in its new HDMI over RGB Extender.

The Honeywell HDMI Restorer and Diagnostics Unit (part number 7952NS08) is powered by its CURxE Light technology. This dynamic, self-monitoring restorer helps to prevent incoming signal loss on HDMI cables running up to 100ft. between an HDMI-capable source — such as a digital cable set-top box, DTV tuner, or Blu-ray Disc player — and a home-theater display. First only available in a standalone chassis (7956NS08), Honeywell's CURxE Light technology was then combined with a restorer (7952NS08). With both technologies working behind the scenes, the Honeywell HDMI Restorer now corrects the damaged part of an HDMI's audio, video, and communication transmission. New to the line of HDMI products at Honeywell are HDMI cables with CURxE Light technology built right into the connector.

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