HDBaseT is a point-to-point signal distribution technology that transports digital video, digital audio, control, Ethernet and power on a single cable.
While this technology brings tremendous benefits to the custom integrator, it’s important to remember that technology alone doesn’t make a product. To build products, you have to think about the problems customers face, create solutions, and implement those solutions using the available technology.
In that regard, you can think of technology as “building blocks” for products. HDBaseT is one such “building block” — and one with fantastic potential for your installations.
When deploying HDBaseT in your customers’ commercial spaces, be sure to choose a complete solution — not just one “block.” Here are 10 factors to consider during the design phase to make sure the solution you’re specifying addresses all of the customer’s needs.
1. Analog video and audio. Analog video is actually rather difficult to distribute on a digital platform such as HDBaseT. The messy analog signals need to be digitized cleanly, and that’s difficult and expensive. If you have analog audio or video sources, make sure your distribution solution can handle them in stride.
2. Advanced audio capabilities. Most often, a distributed video system is deployed alongside a distributed audio system. That audio system often has more zones than the video system, and those zones are often a mixture of stereo and multichannel areas.
A complete distribution system needs to provide breakaway audio switching and DSP for downmixing multichannel sources for simultaneous stereo and multichannel playback.
Related: Go Inside Interactive eBook on A’/tag/4K’>4K distribution system than simply moving the bits around. Look for a vendor that certifies complete end-to-end solutions, including sources and displays, and a solution that conditions the 4K video signal to ensure a great picture, even when the signal is weak or degraded.
5. Easy control system integration. You shouldn’t need to run extra wires to provide Ethernet, RS-232, or IR control. Seek a solution that extends the functionality of your control system seamlessly.
6. Future expandability. The only thing we can be sure the future holds is change. Look for a modular chassis switcher, so you can swap inputs and outputs as system needs change. Your design will likely require a mixture of HDBaseT and HDMI inputs and outputs, and you shouldn’t need to add conversion boxes to support this.
7. System diagnostics. Look for solutions that provide you with integrated troubleshooting tools, format reporting, link quality information, and EDID management.
8. Video scaling. Today more than ever, the sources and displays in systems are of various resolutions. You need scaling to convert 4K sources to 1080p/60 frames per second (fps) for smaller and legacy displays, 60fps content for 4K/30 displays, and to ensure clean, quick switching every time.
9. Streaming H.264 inputs and outputs. Streaming removes all distance limitations and can even utilize existing infrastructure to enable signal distribution for applications where dedicated wiring is impractical or can’t be installed.
In addition to point-to-point video distribution, a matrix switcher should also be able to receive a high-performance H.264 video stream over an IP network from another switcher, an IP camera or a streaming server. This content can then be distributed locally to HDBaseT and HDMI displays. Conversely, digital switchers should also be able to encode and output an H.264 video stream of any video source, be it HDMI, VGA or any of the other many supported signal types.
10. Leverage the cloud to stream worldwide. Content is consumed on laptops, tablets and phones more often than ever before. The cloud allows a home- or business-owner to stream any unprotected input signal out of the switcher directly to computers and touchscreens, as well as to in-house servers or enterprise media platforms such as Kaltura or Wowza, and ultimately to displays and mobile devices anywhere in the world.
Author Justin Kennington is Crestron product manager, DigitalMedia.