When I renovated my house, I put oodles of CAT6 cabling throughout. I figured that – at some point in the future – everything would be run over CAT6. Not only audio-visual data… I even saw PoE (Power over Ethernet) lamps and light fixtures in development.
My first pet project was to get High-Definition all over the house on CAT6. The reason being that I wanted to centralise all of my Audio-Visual equipment into a single rack at a convenient location. The rack would be properly vented & cooled, backed up by battery power (UPS) and it would have all the patch-panels I would need to route signals towards any location and in any configuration I wanted. Also, I was annoyed that Cable TV and Satellite installers were going to charge a fair amount to string very inflexible cable to additional set-top boxes in inconvenient places. It would be unsightly.
All I wanted was a single CAT6 coming out of the wall to the HDMI port of my Televisions – nothing else. Furthermore, I liked the idea of sharing equipment. One box per television was a waste of resources, when I was unlikely to need to watch separate channels on three different televisions at once. Rather, I wanted to switch the box to whichever television I happened to be in front of.
I started out purchasing IR over Ethernet repeaters, so that all my audio-visual remotes could be relayed from whichever room back to the cabinet. This turned out to be the easy part. I bought a bunch of tranceiver/receiver units from Keene, which then terminated into an IR hub back at the closet, which distributed the signals to thin IR cables that I stuck onto the equipment. In some cases, I just had an IR blaster mounted on the door of the cabinet – if it was in line-of-sight of several pieces of equipment. This has worked well for a couple of years now.
However, I have not been so lucky with the HDTV signals. In truth, HDTV over CAT6 isn’t really ready for prime time. There is a lot of equipment out there but nothing has, so far, proved to be reliable.
The first HDTV over Ethernet solution I used was CYP. It used two Ethernet cables (one for video, one for audio) in order to get 1080i from the rack to my Television. Conveniently, it included IR signal pass-through on the device (but, I didn’t need this, as I had the Keene IR over Ethernet devices). It worked for a couple of months and then broke. I sent the tranceiver/receiver kit back to the manufacturer. It had been expensive and I was not amused.
Next, I tried the Octava. They cost me a little more but I figured that you get what you pay for (I didn’t, as you will see). The Octava, also, used two Ethernet cables – but, also, provide IR over Ethernet as part of the unit. However, I think it was prone to problems if the run was too long. It, too, worked (intermittently) for a few months, then died. Naturally, I was disappointed. But, more so, because I had good experience with Octava equipment in the past. In particular, I had a 4×4 matrix HDMI switcher which has performed well. It allows me to switch 4x HDMI sources to either or all four of the 4x HDMI outputs. This was how I was able to switch the same cable TV box to one or more different TVs throughout my house.
Finally, I installed the Cablesson HDMI over Ethernet solution. This was the cheapest of all (less than half the price!) and actually gave 1080p performance over a single CAT6 Ethernet cable. It worked for three months, then died.
At this point, it seems as if none of the manufacturers can produce HDMI over Ethernet products that won’t fail after a period of time. I figure that I have no choice but to purchase two Cablesson kits and keep one as spare. So long as they die within the warranty period, I’ll keep sending them back for replacements until the manufacturer manages to sort out their quality control issues. It’s not ideal – and it doubles the cost of equipment – but, at least, the costs have been coming down over the past year.
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