What is HDBaseT technology? How does it “work”?

As end-users demand more from their audiovisual entertainment experience, it’s only natural for industry-wide standards to mold and adapt as well. HDBaseT technology has certainly stepped into that role, filling a gap where there is consumer need, by offering solutions that speak to the necessity for converged distribution of HD multimedia content as well as addressing the lack of effective technologies available to help drive the industry toward a new HD digital connectively standard.

Specifically, HDBaseT technology is defined as a “consumer electronic connectivity technology optimized for whole-home and commercial multimedia distribution”. The technology itself is most notably known for its ability to connect all the entertainment devices, in a specific setting, through its 5Play™ feature set, combining uncompressed full HD digital audio, video, 100BaseT Ethernet, power of cable and various other control signals through a single 100m/325ft CAT5e/6 cable with RJ45 connectors.

Overall, HDBaseT technology provides a wealth of benefits that provided added value to both the custom integrator as well as the end-user, which include: uncompressed audio/video (up to 10.2 Gbps), a maximum cable length of 100m/325ft, cost effective standard CAST5e/6 LAN cable, standard RJ45 connector and support for 100Mbps Ethernet. Adding to the ease-of-use, HDBaseT technology can very simply be installed utilizing in-wall Ethernet connectivity, while also supporting HDCP and delivering networking support including extended-range daisy chain and star topologies.

How does HDBaseT technology differ from HDMI?

HDBT is a container for HDMI and other technologies; meaning it transports HDMI along with the other control and Ethernet signals. In doing so it does not alter the quality or integrity of the original signal.

What’s next in regards to HDBaseT technology?

In terms of the Leaf Audio products, we have launched the LTHDMI2020E, which unlike other switchers on the market, features four, back-panel HDMI outputs for in-rack or in-room video and audio connectivity. Additionally, sixteen HDBaseT LTB1E remote breakout units can receive audio and video from up to 52 potential sources, plus control data and Ethernet connectivity, up to 100m/325ft away. This product introduction marks an interesting pathway for Leaf as well as opens the door for exciting developments – the expansion and enhancement of this range is inevitable.

Does HDBaseT support several cable types? Is there an optimum choice and what factors should an installer take into consideration?

HDBaseT cable performance is remarkable; it takes only one cable to carry all of the video, audio, Ethernet and control signals. This can be Cat5, Cat6 or better. Although all these are specified to 100m, Leaf recommends Cat6 for slightly improved bandwidth. Shielded versions of these can be also used to improve crosstalk if cables are to be run in parallel.

Does HDBaseT support 3D and will it support 4K?

Absolutely—HDBaseT has the bandwidth to support the highest video resolutions such as full HD 1080p as well as 3D and 4K x 2K formats. Further, as we touched upon earlier, HDBaseT technology is the first to provide all-in-one connectivity, making it possible for a single-connector TV to receive power, audio, video, Internet and control signals from the same cable.

With that said, it’s important to recognize that HDBaseT is a more recent technology, meaning its impact on product development and A/V standards is still being felt.

As 4K continues to develop and consumer demand increases, manufacturers will be challenged to develop products that also evolve, and support 4K technology. For example, in regards to A/V distribution, many current product lines incorporate HDBaseT technology, but may not yet have the full ability to support 4K. Most often this is due to the fact that these new products were already designed and developed before 4K technology fully existed.  However, just as HDBaseT is pushing our industry to re-define digital connectivity standards, it will also entice manufacturers to be more forward-thinking, focusing on how we can create the next generation of effective, efficient A/V products that meet the vast array of consumer entertainment needs.

The current 5Play specification only supports 100W, which is insufficient for most 40"+ sets. Will there be a future version that supports higher power?

The 100W limitation is related to regulations. As display technology improves power consumption will reduce. We cannot comment on future versions.

What are the benefits of HDBaseT vs. IP over switched gigabit?

Uncompressed pure HD video and 8 channel uncompressed audio – reliably over 100m along with Ethernet and control signals (such as IR, RS232, etc) – specifically in our experience this is simply not possible over IP.

How has the Leaf product line harnessed the power of HDBaseT?

Through rigorous ongoing testing, our HDMI Matrix range with HDBaseT technology stands up in live application and calls true its claims to lossless signal strength over greater distances. Leaf True HDBaseT Systems have been able to encapsulate the core of HDBaseT technology and perfect it so it actually works!

What unique solutions has Leaf been able to offer the residential market?

Seamless integration between HDMI and Ethernet protocols…Units that not only look great but offer smart home integration, multi-source home entertainment options and easy to use interface. These products are designed to take the difficulty out of the technology for the domestic user, everything at their fingertips.

About Dean

Dean Vaughan is Director of Sales and Marketing for Leaf. He joined Nexus/Leaf in 2002, with an impressive sales and strategic marketing background. Responsible for establishing and managing Leaf distributors around the globe, Dean has secured contracts with most leading retailers across Australia as well as developed the Leaf office located in Dubai in 2006. Upon joining Leaf, Dean helped to accelerate company growth; Leaf has averaged 50% growth year after year for the first 5 years since Dean’s arrival and continues to average 20% growth since then.