Commercial Integrator spoke with Gabi Shriki, co-founder of HDBaseT Alliance, about AV-over-IP, the new HDBaseT Spec 3.0 standard, when to use each, and the potential of using both in tandem:
CI: What’s your take on AV over IP? What are the key obstacles for AV-over-IP to overcome in order to be adopted in a more significant way?
GS: I think one of the key points to remember is that AVoIP is not a single, standardized technology. It can be realized using multiple technologies, a major problem! This lack of standardization is the primary obstacle for AVoIP to be widely deployed.
Another key point is the desire to combine AVoIP with existing corporate data networks – unfortunately, that is not going to happen.
Current AVoIP solutions are using high bandwidth codecs (like JPEG200 and proprietary light compression) to get higher-quality video, reasonable latency over IP networks, as IP networks are restricted in bandwidth. Every AV stream occupies 70% to 90% of the IP link capacity, significantly restricting network bandwidth for other data.
Coupling the bandwidth constrains with security risks forces IT managers to mandate an independent, dedicated AV distribution-only network.
Another key point is the success of cloud collaboration platforms (such as Zoom and Teams). It replaces the need for a dedicated AVoIP network. The AV quality over these platforms is getting better, and it can run on existing data network. That’s because they use a different codec (H.264/5) that compress at a ratio 200 to 1, reducing dramatically the required bandwidth.
Last, as always, cost/performance ratio must fit. AVoIP solutions are higher in cost, power consumption, size and more complex to install and maintain compared to HDMI/HDBaseT products.
To summarize, AVoIP must overcome standardization, bandwidth and cost constrains!
CI: HDBaseT announced its latest standard, Spec 3.0, last year. Could you tell our audience more about this standard and what it can do for integrators?
GS: HDBaseT Spec 3.0 is a major evolution of the already successfully deployed HDBaseT solution, while maintaining backward and forward compatibility.
Valens’ VS3000 Stello is the basis of Spec 3.0 and is the only chipset today that can distribute uncompressed 4K60 4:4:4, full chroma, including HDR and Dolby Vision over 328ft Category cable. There is no other solution that can do that in the market. All other solutions require compression to achieve 4K distribution.
It is crucial to remember that uncompressed distribution is important not just for video quality and latency reasons, but also to ensure interoperability. Since there is no need to manipulate the additional metadata, interoperability between sources and displays is guaranteed.
In addition, the VS3000 integrates, on a single chipset, both HDMI input and output with HDCP support, USB2.0, 1Gbps Ethernet, control and other audio interfaces, minimizing complexity, power and size of products. Furthermore, the HDBaseT port can act as a transmitter or as a receiver on the same chipset. So vendors can develop one single product to serve both ends (transmitter and receiver).
CI: How do integrators make the decision about which type of AV distribution solution deployment to choose? When to use AV-over-IP and when to use HDBaseT?
GS: The first questions they should ask themselves are: what is the problem? What are my customer’s biggest hurdles? What user experience are they expecting? What bare the network constrain?
In many cases, we see that combining multiple technologies is the best solution for customers. If we look at enterprises as an example: IT managers are highly sensitive to the corporate network bandwidth and security.
Cloud-based solutions (ie, Zooms and Teams) are already widely used. Collaboration spaces require simple AV equipment that can enhance the user experience during meetings. So extending video from a laptop to the far-end display or to the ceiling projector, with a remote camera up in the wall, is a common use case.
The solution: the extension of audio, video, and USB can be done over a single cable efficiently with HDBaseT. It is cheaper and better performing than AVoIP alternative.
However, what if there is an occasional need for distributing information in a high-quality, real time manner, that Zoom/Teams platforms cannot support?
In this case, an AVoIP gateway product is the best solution. This “gateway”, combining HDMI, HDBaseT and AVoIP ports, is the right solution, connecting existing in-room HDBaseT products to create a larger scale network using IP, for better cost and performance installation.