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What Is HDBaseT?

Cat 5 cable with RJ45 plug.
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  • Written By: Robert Grimmick
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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HDBaseT™ is a technology that delivers high-definition video, audio, Ethernet networking, control signals, and power over a single Category 5E or Category 6 computer networking cable. The technology is meant to be used with consumer electronics and home theater equipment, and has a few benefits that are not offered by other types of connections. The initial version of the specification was announced in June 2010, and uses High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) signals over a network cable.

An Israeli corporation called Valens Semiconductor originally developed the specification, then known as 5Play™, to unite a plethora of home theater connections in one cable. A group of electronics companies and content providers later joined Valens to form the HDBaseT Alliance, a group to promote and standardize the technology. The initial specification includes support for uncompressed high definition video in 1080p format, as well as 3-D TV and ultra-high resolution 2k and 4k formats. Also supported are audio, a 100 megabit network connection, control signals, and 100 watts of power. The standard can be upgraded to add support for faster networking and other new features.

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Unlike other audiovisual connectors, HDBaseT™ reuses an existing technology: the Category 5E or Category 6 cables and Registered Jack-45 (RJ-45) connectors commonly used in computer networking. Cable lengths of up to 328 feet (100 m) are supported, and devices can be “daisy-chained” from one to another or connected through a hub or switch. Standard Ethernet hubs and switches, however, will not recognize the video signals since a propriety system of modulation is used.

HDBaseT™ is primarily aimed at consumer electronics devices like Blu-ray® players and televisions, but the use of network cables offers benefits that other home theater connections can’t match. Many HDMI cables, for example, can only carry a signal a few feet without an extender, while HDBaseT™ connections can be over 300 feet. A single device, such as a digital video recorder (DVR) can also send a signal to multiple displays. The 100 watts of power sent over the network cable is enough to power flatscreens up to 40 inches, which could mean only one connection would be needed for both power and video signals.

The first revision of HDBaseT™ uses HDMI signals as the basis for its video output. This means that nearly all the features found in version 1.4 of the HDMI video transmission standard, including Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) and High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), are present in HDBaseT™. Signals from other technologies, such as universal serial bus (USB), can also be encoded and sent over the network.

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