Low-priced home digital media connections promised

HDBaseT to your PC, Blu-ray and more

HDMI cables used to connect a multitude of every day home audio and video devices may become a thing of the past if a new standard by the HDBaseT Alliance catches on.

"HDBaseT technology is poised to become the unrivaled next-generation home networking transport to meet the ever-changing trends in the digital media market," Alliance president and chairman Ariel Sobelman said in a statement accompanying the HDBaseT 1.0 spec's ratification Wednesday.

HDBaseT is a network-based standard that will let devices be connected over relatively inexpensive Cat5e/6 cables up to 100 meters in length, with HDMI ports being replaced by good ol' RJ-45 connectors. If your home or office is wired with Cat5e/6 and you've gone wireless for your internet needs, those cables may again come in handy as your entertainment backbone.

HDTV cabling comparison table

Cables in comparison: how HDBaseT measures up (click chart for larger view)

The HDBaseT Alliance was founded by LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony Pictures, and Valens Semiconductor. The "cornerstone" of the HDBaseT 1.0 spec, as described in Wednesday's announcement, is something the Alliance calls "5Play" technology that supports the transmission of uncompressed HD video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, and 100W of power over Cat5e/6 with various control signals.

The HDBaseT spec supports not only 1080p HD video (1920-by-1080), but also 3D and the next-gen high-resolution 2Kx4K standard (4096-by-2160) — which, by the way, is also supported by HDMI 1.4.

The networking setup, whether in a star topology or a daisy chain, will enable you to link up a variety of devices — think displays, DVRs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, PCs, handsets, whatever — in a dedicated entertainment network, all powered over the aforementioned Cat5e/6 cable.

Well, that's the Alliance's claim, in any case — those 100 watts couldn't power most large-screen displays, a lacking that would make additional power sources inevitable.

The HDBaseT spec will be available for licensing in the second half of this year, and although the Alliance expects products conforming to it to appear shortly thereafter, 2011 is their target for widespread adoption. ®

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