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Know The Lingo — What Is HDBaseT?

By: , CTS-D
Technology Evangelist — C2G

Technical lingo is a kind of shorthand that's used to express concepts common to that specific topic or area of study. Technical lingo is important because it provides a very precise or unique "shorthand" description of a device, effect or concept. Unfortunately, if you aren't comfortable and familiar with the lingo of a topic it can be a tall hurdle to communicate efficiently with folks who consider the jargon of their field to be "self-explanatory." In this series of articles we'll lift the veils of misunderstanding from the lingo of the A/V industry.

WHAT IS HDBASET?

HDBaseT is the name given to a technology designed to facilitate the interconnection of high definition multimedia sources and sinks—using a single category cable as the physical connection. The standard was published in 2010 by the HDBaseT Alliance, a group composed of founding members; LG, Samsung, Sony and Valens.

HDBaseT was created as a long distance A/V connectivity solution to extend HDMI and DVI-D technology. With the effective range of a native HDMI connection limited to just a few tens of meters, there is a clear market demand for a single standard, simplified connection that can transport high-definition audio-video content at least 100 meters, thus complementing the TIA 568 standard for telecommunications cabling systems.

HDBaseT is designed to deliver a feature set known as 5Play. HDBaseT technology allows for integrated transportation of uncompressed HD video, up to 8 channels of digital audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, control via RS232, CEC, IR and USB, and up to 100 watts of power for connected devices. These five functions address almost all of the common connectivity demands associated with the installation and integration of contemporary high performance A/V systems, whether they are consumer or commercial in nature.

The HDBaseT Alliance released an HDBaseT 2.0 standard on August 13, 2013. This updated standard includes provisions for an HDBaseT-Lite variant that will trade the full 100 meters of potential connectivity for a maximum 70 meters with fewer features and lower power, but selling for a reduced price. The HDBaseT 2.0 standard also included, in its full size version, provisions for a modified USB 2.0 integration and support for Ultra HD connectivity.

HDBaseT uses a multi-level pulse-amplitude modulation system to transport uncompressed video data where-in each symbol transmitted (this is specified in baud) represents sixteen discrete voltage levels and each of those levels represents four bits of data.

It has been noted that, because of the intense amount of data involved in these connections, that HDBaseT cabling may be susceptible to crosstalk when installed in a bundled environment (see this Belden report). C2G tests have found that, for the most dependable installations, use of Cat6 shielded cable is the best choice for systems that are going to push the maximum distance of 100 meters at 1080p resolutions. Systems intended to scale to Ultra HD should be built with Cat6a. Systems limited to 70 meters or less, and especially those employing HDBaseT-Lite performance expectations, may at times be effectively installed with Cat5e.

This white paper is for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. C2G makes no guarantees, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information found in this document.