HD JuiceBox HDMI over Powerline kit
High voltage hi-def
Hey, guess what? There’s another way of routing hi-def around your house, in addition to unfeasibly long HDMI cable runs, wireless transmitters and Cat 5. You can actually send it via the ring main, using the HDJuice Box from JustHDMI.
The cable guys: JustHDMI's HDJuiceBox
Powerline distribution for video has been tried in the past, notably by Panasonic, but it’s never really caught on. Could it be about to stage an electrifying comeback? The basic apparatus is much the same as any wireless HDMI system. The basic HD Juice system pack contains a transmitter and receiver, two HDMI leads plus a credit card style remote and IR flasher.
Video connectivity on the former is good. With three HDMI inputs and one pass-through output, plus component and stereo inputs, phono AV and S-video there’s not much that can’t be connected. The receiver has a single HDMI output, plus component and phono AV.
Interfacing for both analogue and digital sources
Additional receivers can be added to an HD JuiceBox network, at £200 each. If you are thinking about adding extra boxes, bear in mind though that there will be a limit to the amount of usable bandwidth available. One transmitter feeding two receivers should be fine, but additional boxes could swamp your pipe.
If you do have problems, experiment with the Network Bandwidth setting in the main menu. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that by reducing the bandwith you’re lowering resolution or dropping frames. What’s actually happening is that you’re increasing the delay time to the second screen, allowing the system to take longer to analyse and error check the video source.
Up to spec?
According to the spec supplied with system, resolutions up to 1080p are supported, however I failed to get beyond 1080i. The units would just throw out an ‘unsupported format’ warning. Clearly, if you’re routing from a set top box this is not an issue, however full throttle Blu-ray could prove problematic.
The credit card remote navigates the various function
The system uses H.264 encoding and this does a remarkably good job. The process is not transparent and I did detect some picture instability from the receiver’s output when comparing test charts to source. Yet, for the most part video survives its perilous plug-to-plug journey unscathed. If you’re streaming SD or network content, you’ll not spot much difference when you compare input with output.
The system does not support multichannel sound though. There’s no provision for digital audio and it doesn’t recognise multichannel PCM delivered by HDMI. Not that I’d recommend the HD JuiceBox for audiophile use; the receiver outputs a very harsh-sounding stereo PCM signal.
Pricey, but effective
The HD JuiceBox incorporates a 200Mbps Ethernet bridge, allowing you to use the system for data as well as video. The system balances the requirements for any streaming video with your data traffic, nabbing bandwidth as required. Consequently, if you route hi-def around the mains you’ll lose more capacity than if you’re distributing low-bitrate SD.
Oh, and a word to the wise, don’t try and mix and match Powerline and HomePlug devices; the HD JuiceBox will not play ball with rival products and bandwidth is likely to suffer.
It’s also worth noting that the signal from transmitter to receiver can’t get past a fuse box. For most households, that won’t present a problem, however those that have a secondary fuse box perhaps following an extension should be aware. Similarly, it’ll fail when it encounters a mains conditioner/surge protection device.
Overall, the HD JuiceBox is an interesting – albeit specialised and pricey – alternative for HDMI distribution. Indeed, when all else fails, it could be a system-saver. ®
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