August 2020
HDMI, HDBaseT, or SDI to Your Projectors? Part 2 - HDBaseT
HDBaseT – Fairly simple, and reasonably priced. Better suited than HDMI for permanent installations and longer distances, it is easily misrepresented, misunderstood, and misapplied.
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HDBaseT – Fairly simple, and reasonably priced. 

Better suited than HDMI for permanent installations and longer distances, it is easily misrepresented, misunderstood, and misapplied. Designed for commercial, consumer, and automotive applications among others, it carries signals similar in content and functionality to HDMI, but has elements supporting USB, 100bT ethernet, and up to 100W power (for small devices like PTZ cameras, HDBaseT to HDMI converters, and a few displays) in addition to the video content at up to 100M distance at 1080i.

HDBaseT is –NOT— video over a standard IP networking protocol – and is therefore NOT supported by network switches. And, it’s maximum uncompressed throughput is 10.2Gb/s as contrasted against HDMI 2.0’s 18Gb/s. It was designed primarily as a point-to-point medium, but HDBaseT 2.0 supports multiple distribution and mesh configurations. Adapters exist to break-out the 100bT network data for access on a standard network.

Some Positives

Many new projectors support HDBaseT directly but often as an optional plug-in module. There are several “A/V” switchers (with and without clean-switch) which natively support HDBaseT, sometimes as an option. The pairing of these two native HDBaseT products often leads to enhanced operational features with no additional wiring, i.e., remote control of basic commands to the projector from the switcher by buttons, menus, or even GPIs, support for ethernet-based GUI management of the projectors by connecting a PC to the LAN connection on the AV switcher, and on-board IR (infrared) remote repeaters, among others.

The Negatives

There are some interoperability issues to be considered as some devices may deploy some lightweight compression while others do not use compression at all. Additionally, some product-specific control functions may be supported via USB, while others are only on RS485, or IR. Pushing into the 4K/ WGC, and HDR worlds, there are limitations in HDBaseT which, to support those features, requires some lightweight compression schemes to support 4K+WCG+HDR.

“Non-compatible” Devices

 Products which do not natively utilize HDBaseT can leverage a high-quality Cat5e/Cat6 existing connection via small HDBaseT converters. These are “media converters” (mostly) and do not add measurable latency into the path – quite important for iMag. Additionally, converters may be utilized which support HDMI inputs on one end, and SDI on the far end (as an example), and there are versions which will allow the “far” end device to be powered over the same cable from the local device, easing installation requirements.

HDBaseT - The Conclusion

HDBaseT has better signaling, broad application, and immensely easier cable termination than HDMI. HDBaseT poses the same risks and considerations as HDMI for live audience use and trouble mitigation strategies to address the sometimes-erratic operation relating specifically to HDCP and EDID. However, the management of multiple downstream devices is more elegant in HDBaseT.  


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