On Future Compatibility
Most CIs don’t delve very deeply into connectivity options until they’re discussing pricing, points out Keith Scheffler, systems design engineering manager at Extron Electronics, which incorporates HDMI across its complete line of digital A/V solutions.
“An integrator needs to pay special attention to which pieces are digital and what’s required,” he says. “He has to be able to justify the cost and the different approach to cabling with the customer. Those are the integrators who tend to be more successful.”
Scheffler finds integrators fall into three categories: those avoiding installing digital in an effort to hang on to analog’s flexibility, those who are focused on complete digital installations, and those who are using analog when necessary and digital when necessary.
“You used to have dealers try to talk customers out of using digital. Now, most are very willing to offer a digital solution and very willing to embrace technology,” he says.
“The smart dealer assesses the type of connectivity he needs and decides on the right approach,” Scheffler says. “You want to be able to provide a solution based on need. That way, you’re allowing enough expansion for either type of growth.”
On HDBaseT, Fiber
Chris Bundy, director of marketing at Atlona Technologies, sees something even more exciting with the continued emergence of HDBaseT, a connector that can carry audio, USBs and more across connections that span about five times longer on Cat 5 wires than the 66.9-foot limitation HDMI faces before breaking down. Atlona is working on converters for HDBaseT, Bundy says.
Related: The Case for HDBaseT in Commercial A”It’s the future,” Bundy says, noting he feels “like an evangelist” when discussing it. “It saves customers money and it saves manufacturers money.” Some projections, Bundy says, say HDBaseT could drop prices of A/V projects 20 to 30 percent compared to HDMI. HDBaseT is being used primarily in consumer installations for now, Bundy says, but is expected to become a big part of commercial installation in the next year or so.
Even more advanced, Bundy says, is fiber-optic connectivity, which has no bandwidth limit. It’s used heavily by government clients, in airports and for mission critical projects.
HDMI is a complex and ever-evolving technology that is at the heart of today’s digital entertainment.