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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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Apogee HDMIEXT60

Apogee HDMIEXT60

More HDMI Solutions

The long and winding road of HDMI development as illustrated in this article has produced an increasingly competitive marketplace for those who understand the advance of bandwidth availability and the eventual end of the analog 4:3 video world that we all grew up with. The power of those forces, combined with a lot of imaginative technical talent, is already spawning a wide array of approaches and solutions for HDMI conveyance at every point along the price and performance scale.

Following are a few more examples of the hardware this evolving field has already produced. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, because this market is growing at an astounding pace, but it instead offers a sampling of the technology's current direction.

Apogee markets the HDMIEXT60 Cat-5e/-6 extender for running HDMI video signals up to 360ft. Each port supports DVI and HDMI inputs with signaling rates up to 2.25Gbps with auto adjustment of amplification, feedback, and equalization using shielded twisted-pair cable.

The 1391A HDMI extender from Audio Authority can send HDMI signals over 130ft. The unit also has a DDC correction circuit that compensates for skew, impedance, and capacitance in boosting the DDC signal.

Part of the Avenview HDMI-C5 Extender Series, the HDMI-C5-S transmitter and HDMI-C5-SR receiver form a pair that extends HDMI video over Cat-5, Cat-5e, and Cat-6 twisted-pair cable with unlimited cascading capability.

The Emerge MPX HD Multipoint Extender from Avocent uses a wired or RF link for HDMI video and embedded audio distribution to as many as eight receivers.

Belkin's PureAV HDMI Extender for HD and embedded multichannel digital audio extends HDCP-compliant 1080i video up to 100ft.

The Black Box HDMI Extender can carry high-def video up to 1080p for a distance of up to 130ft. or 65ft. on each side of the unit. It can boost the HDCP 1.0 and 1.1-compliant signal with up to 2.5 times the gain at the input to compensate for signal attenuation.

The HM6EK HDMI Extender Kit from CE Labs is designed to extend the HDCP-compliant HDMI signal up to 160ft. on two Cat-5/Cat-6 cables. One twisted-pair cable carries HDMI video while the other handles DDC data.

The ACE (Active Cable Extender) from DVIGear is a signal equalizer that provides up to 40dB of insertion loss correction at 825MHz to extend fully compliant HDMI signals up to nearly 200ft. when used with DVIGear Super High Resolution DVI and HDMI cables.

The Intelix DIGI-HDMI-F transmitter/receiver pair can send 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i video up to 150ft. on Cat-5 cable and 1080p up to 30ft. on Cat-6. Powered on the destination end with an external 5VDC power supply, the units are HDCP-compliant with a video amplifier bandwidth of 1.65Gbps for 1.2V p-p video at the input.

The Kramer Electronics TP-551/552 transmitter/receiver pair conveys HDMI signals over two STP Cat-5e cables for distances up to 200ft. with bandwidth support up to 1.65Gbps for 1080p video resolution.

The Lasermate fiber-optic HDMI extender is a transmitter/receiver pair that uses two 62.5/125 multimode fiber-optic lines to carry HDMI signals up to 656ft. with a maximum video resolution of 1920×1080.

The Cat's i HDMI extender from Magenta Research sends the 720p and 1080i video and audio up to 300ft., 1080p video and audio up to 150ft., and XGA signals up to 300ft. on two screened twisted-pair (ScTP) cables with full HDCP support at 1/65Gbps.

Among the lightest and tiniest solutions, the M05-180 HDMI extender/repeater from Micro Connectors uses power provided by the HDMI devices along the cable to extend HDMI 1.3 video signals up to 150ft.

The MultiDyne HDM-2000 HDMI fiber-optic extension cables run HDCP-compliant HDMI signals up to 320ft. The cables are available in varying lengths from 9.14 meters up to 97.5 meters, and they can support computer display resolutions up to 1600×1200.

MuxLab VideoEase HDMI Econo Extender Kit 500400

MuxLab VideoEase HDMI Econo Extender Kit 500400

The MuxLab VideoEase HDMI Econo Extender Kit 500400 runs HDMI 1.2 at resolutions up to 1080i on two Cat-5e unshielded twisted-pair cables. 1080p can be run up to 100ft. on Cat-6.

Octava's HDMI/DVI Extender carries high-def video at resolutions as high as 1080p up to 100ft., automatically equalizing and compensating for cable losses. Using appropriate adapters, the device offers 6.25Gbps aggregate data rate for HDMI version 1.3 with HDCP pass-through.

The M1-2R2H-TR optical HDMI extension module from Opticis extends HDMI signals with HDCP up to 300ft. on four optical fiber lines with duplex LC connections at resolutions up to 1920×1080 and conveys DDC data on UTP cable using an RJ-45 connection.

The HDMI-X fiber-optic extender from RapcoHorizon can carry HDCP-compliant HDMI signals up to 330ft. along with DDC data and uncompressed audio on four lengths of fiber-optic cable.

The HDX1000 from SmartAVI extends HDCP-compliant HDMI signals up to 330ft. on Cat-5/Cat-6 shielded twisted-pair (STP) cable at computer video resolutions up to 1920×1200 and 1080p HD with audio at a maximum bandwidth of 4.95Gbps.

The R01-EXT-C5E HDMI UTP extender from Tri-Net Technology extends the HDMI signal up to 150ft. at video resolutions of 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p over two Cat-5/-5e/-6 twisted-pair cables. With its fully automatic equalization up to 40dB, there is no system control required. The output signal is also HDCP-compliant.

TV One has introduced the IT-DA-631 dynamic cable equalizer for restoring the HDMI 1.3 signal after a long run from the video source. The unit also maintains the quality of stereo or 7.1 sound and the built-in DDC extender maintains HDCP signal encryption.

The VHE-1100 HDMI extender from Vigor Electronics can extend HDCP-compliant video up to more than 160ft. at video resolutions of 480i, 720p, 768p, 1080i, 1080p and computer resolutions up to 1900×1200.

VizionWare has taken a new approach to HDMI extension by incorporating active electronics in its Hi-Wirez series of cables. The Hi-Wirez 1650 Series can deliver resolutions from 480p to 1080i at lengths up to 100ft. Lighter and less bulky than many other HDMI cables, the HI-Wirez 1650 is easier to install and highly resistant to induced interference.

As can be seen from these examples, there has evolved an amazing array of solutions taking different approaches and using varied media combinations to overcome the inherent distance limitations of today's HDMI transmissions. As the market winnows out those that prove to be less effective, the changing technology will enable even more choices. The process of these counterbalancing forces at work promises there will be interesting times on the road ahead for HDMI. — Bennett Liles


Radiospire Networks
Kramer Electronics
Black Box
Silicon Image
Cables to Go
Magenta Research
CE Labs
Micro Connectors
Tri-Net Technology
TV One

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