It’s really more than an HDMI competitor, it’s a cable specification that “converges full uncompressed HD video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, high power over cable and various control signals through a single 100m/328ft CAT5e/6 LAN cable.” That’s an idea that I can really get behind. No new proprietary connectors, no expensive cables needed, consolidation of all necessary signals into one cable. The founding companies include LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.Of course, having a few electronics giants behind your proposed new standard doesn’t necessarily assure its success. Sometimes it just assures that those companies’ closest competitors get behind a competing technology and you get another pointless platform war. But this one doesn’t seem like a good candidate for that scenario. Who would be the loser if hdBaseT were to prevail? Perennial villain of the AV world, Monster Cable. Of course, they’d soon be selling $100 gold plated, 15mm thick ethernet cables for idiots to buy, so maybe they wouldn’t care so much.
The thing that I find the most interesting, and the most unbelievable is that hdBaseT would allow “a single-connector TV to receive power, video/audio, Internet and control signals from the same cable.” It’s the power that has me surprised. I suppose that the AC signal from the house would be converted to DC in some appliance before it was then transmitted as DC over the cat5 cable. But what this enables is, for example, a single media server or DVR to be centralized in the home, then inexpensive cable run to any monitor or television in the home. And for personal computers, it would allow a single slender cable to connect the box to the monitor. The hdBaseT documentation doesn’t say anything about USB, I would imagine it would not be hard for USB to be one of thsoe “various control signals.” It would be very cool if a single PC could support multiple “terminals” in a home or office, using hdBaseT. The software wouldn’t be hard.
We’ll be keeping an eye on hdBaseT, because it could have a big impact on both AV technology and computing.