Wednesday 4 August 2010

a new bite on the old cherry, will cat5 relegate HDMI to the technological dustbin

If you’re anything like me when it comes to technology you probably have a draw or two full of all types of cables from an assortment of devices and for a variety of uses from phone connectors to RCA video and audio cables, maybe even some cat5 computer cables. We accumulate these cables for a variety of reasons through obsolesce or failure of a much-loved device to upgrading to a better and newer standard. Cables are what connect us; they are as big a part of technology as the very devices that they connect.

In that draw I bet you don’t have a spare HDMI cable? I know I don’t because they are just too expensive to have anymore than you really need. Cables can be expensive, fortunately these days most devices come with the required cables included as well as the batteries. It used to be the bane of fathers everywhere when Christmas morning rolled around to reveal Santa’s little gifts had arrived “batteries not included”. The message has been heard and acted on and these days nearly all devices come with the batteries included, mind you they may not always be of the highest quality but that does some what apply to the type of goods you are purchasing and so it is with cables as well.

There still obviously exists the occasional need to purchase additional cables if circumstances change and HDMI cables mostly never come included. So it was good news to hear that there is a newly finalised cable technology, known as HDBaseT. This is a not so new cable type that can transfer audio and video signals over the ordinary the RJ-45 ethernet cable (cat5). It has come about as the result of an effort between LG, Samsung, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Valens Semiconductor that started a mere six months ago. And so this new bite on the old cherry may result in the demise of  HDMI. The HDMI cable had it beginnings back in 2003 and the popularity of HDTV has fuelled its growth and adoption ever since. And while HDMI was a vast improvement over previous A/V cable solutions it was not without its limitations some thing that HDBaseT attempts to addresses and ultimately could solve. HDBaseT will be able to deliver full-HD video, audio, web carry 100 watts of power over one cable simultaneously; it can support cables up to 100 meters long.

If this standard can truly deliver what it says it can over cat5 cables I think it will be a real winner on many fronts, including the utility to use existing cables, the cost and the fact its one cable may replace multiple cables for just one is a welcome change. It is expected that the new standard will ship later 2010, with the new cable type becoming more widely adopted the following year. Whether this standard becomes the standard HDTV connector cable is yet to be seen. I also hear that a new HDMI specification is expected soon. I for one hope that it does become a standard as I do have a few of those cat5 cables in my draw, however I am already using HDMI so the irony is that they would then occupy valuable draw place.

What do you think? What’s in your draw? Leave me a comment love to hear you technology stories.

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