Say Your Prayers, HDMI

By Andy Sim - on 09 Jul 2010, 11:07am

It isn't wrong to say that the HDMI interface was a godsend when it first surfaced in 2003. Like much needed rain after a drought, enthusiasts and manufacturers were quick to ditch legacy connectors for the new savior in AV electronics. Why? HDMI has the ability to transport digital video and audio streams on a single cable. There isn't a need for separate analogue cables anymore, like composite or component outfits. No mess, no fuss. Who could ask for more?

I recall, rather poignantly, that the first HDMI iteration was also capable of 1920 by 1200, which was more than what's required for 1080 progressive transmissions. Full-HD tellies were cool, but HDMI was the real game changer. It shook the AV industry, and soon crept its way to every other tech gadget, from TVs to cameras. If you've been following the 3D brouhaha, you might also know that the newly ratified HDMI 1.4 standard has upped the ante with 1080p 3D dual-streams and audio return channel capabilities as well. In simple words, the latter actually means you get to push your TV's audio downstream to your AV receiver, yes, over a single HDMI link yet again.  

For all its goodness, all is not well for HDMI. There's a new kid in town, and apparently, this kid has what it takes to take our beloved AV interface down. I'm talking about HDBaseT, an emerging standard founded by LG, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Samsung and Valens Semiconductor. As a whole, you can call them the HDBaseT Alliance. We know that HDMI isn't perfect. Fashioned with a twisted pair of copper wires, complications may arise when HDMI signals travel beyond 15 meters. Now, enter HDBaseT. While HDMI was engineered with an expensive interface, the HDBaseT protocol was developed over a standard Cat5e/6 connection, or LAN cable if you prefer. According to the finalized HDBaseT 1.0 specification, this budding technology is "a feature that converges uncompressed Full-HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, power over cable and various control signals through a single LAN cable".

So, HDBaseT does 1080 video and audio streams. It does Ethernet. It's able to leap 100m in a single bound, and more importantly, it carries power (up to 100W) as well. Wow. Think about it. If this interface becomes reality soon enough, that's tantamount to a TV receiving video, audio, power, Internet and control signals, all, on the same cable. Talk about fast developing trends. Well, enjoy your HDMI cables for now, whilst they're still around.

Andy Sim

Andy Sim / Former Senior Tech Writer

Andy is a self-made geek with a penchant for good music and a hearty pint. His domain includes swanky TVs, notebooks and networking gizmos.

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