You think the seemingly never ending cycle of obsolescence of the that shiny new HDMI standard you just upgraded to is frustrating? You might want to skip this story, then, because there’s a new SuperCable in town by the name of HDBaseT, and its aim is to drive HDMI out of town completely.
Granted, HDMI is a great way to connect your gear in theory. Pure digital audio and video (and now Ethernet) in one plug? Who could ask for more? The problem is that it’s only really great if your connections are tight and your cable runs stay within a few meters. After that, signal degradation can cause handshaking issues, signal dropouts and all sorts of problems. For well over a decade, home theater installers have been moving analog signals over to standard Ethernet cable for long runs in churches, concert halls, and other big venues, though. With Ethernet, you can run for hundreds of feet without a repeater, whereas even with the best quality cable, after 45 feet you have to buy expensive amplifiers for HDMI.
So it’s no surprise that a new wannabe-all-end-all cable standard developed by an alliance that includes Samsung, Sony, and LG, is based on tried and true Ethernet. HDBaseT, as it’s called, carries HD video and audio, network traffic, and can even transmit enough power to run the equivalent of today’s 40-inch panels (as TVs become greener, the size of displays it can power will increase), all with a single small cable.
But while it’s speculated that HDBaseT devices will appear as soon as next year, the transition might not be that easy or that fast. While SuperCable does support HDCP, the MPAA tends to break out in hives at the mention of delivering video over anything resembling end-user distribution over a network. While this is absolutely the future of professional and high-end installations, I have to question how long it’ll take to be standard in consumer devices. For sure, manufacturers like it because it’ll reduce manufacturing costs and standardize electronic device connections across the board. And for consumers, it means we’re one step closer to being able to easily drag-and-drop what you’re watching or doing to any room in the house.. But are really ready to jump ship for yet another AV cable standard?