New technology could replace HDMI with Ethernet cables

A new audio/video cable standard created by a collaboration of tech companies may replace HDMI someday.

Could HDMI's days be numbered? It could be, if a new a new audio/video (A/V) cable standard developed by four tech companies catches on.

The newly-finalized cable technology, known as HDBaseT, transfers audio and video signals over ordinary RJ-45 ethernet cables. It's the result of an effort that started a little over six months ago by LG, Samsung, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Valens Semiconductor, .

Goodbye HDMI

The venerable HDMI cable was first produced back in 2003, and the rise of Blu-ray and the growing popularity of HDTV fueled its adoption.

While HDMI has several advantages to other sorts of A/V cables, it isn't without its problems. The technology often suffers from switching delays and is known for it's limitations when it comes to cable length--problems that HDBaseT could solve.

The benefits of HDBaseT

HDBaseT will be able to deliver full-HD video, audio, Web connectivity, and power over one cable simultaneously. Whereas a HDMI cable can be no more than a few meters in length, HDBaseT supports cables up to 100 meters long. The new cable spec can also carry 100 watts of power via the cable.

But what do all these promising advantages really mean? The back of any TV is usually an unsightly mess of cables. If this specification proves popular, it'll mean fewer cables. A single cable would not only power your television, but it could also send in all your data--sound, visuals and more. Replacing multiple cables for just one is a welcome change.

When will it become commonplace?

The HDMI cable isn't dead just yet, but the HDBaseT alliance hopes that devices supporting the new standard will ship later this year, with the new cable becoming more widely adopted during 2011. Whether this desire becomes a reality is yet to be seen, especially considering that an updated HDMI specification is expected in the not-too-distant future.

You can find more information--including this comparison table (PDF) on the HDBaseT Website.

HDBase-T via Thinq

For more geeky updates, follow Chris Brandrick and GeekTech on Twitter.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Brandrick

PC World (US online)
Topics: Ethernet, applications, LG Electronics, software, home entertainment, high-definition, sony, video, HDTV, Valens Semiconductor, samsung
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