FAQs – our frequently asked questions for the whats, wheres and whys of HDBaseT installations.

17/06/14

We all know the type: the financial whiz who can talk only in terms of compound interests, derivatives (bifurcation of derivatives?!??!), coattail investing, and other obscure and complicated terms that only they (maybe) understand. Or the car enthusiast who will speak of air jacks, torsional rigidity and camber. We all look around, nod once or twice, and move on.

The question is, though, are we guilty of being AV snobs? Are we always talking in acronyms, throwing EDID, HDCP, RJ45, RS232 and more around? Well, we shouldn’t. Because most of our end customers care about the end result, not the hows and whys of this or that protocol. They have their wish list, and it is our job to deliver, using the best tools we have at our disposal.   So this FAQ has two purposes: one is to provide you with the lay-of-the-land as HDBaseT is concerned. And two is to spell out the benefits of an HDBaseT installation to your customers.

Did we forget anything? installers@hdbaset.org

HDBaseT Technology


 

What is HDBaseT?
HDBaseT is a connectivity standard for residential and commercial distribution of uncompressed ultra-high-definition multimedia content. The cornerstone of HDBaseT technology is 5Play™, a feature set that converges uncompressed full HD digital audio & video, 100BaseT Ethernet, USB, up to 100 watts of power and various control signals through a single LAN cable.

HDBaseT delivers the 5Play feature set over a single category cable (Cat5e or above), for up to 100m/328ft.

How does HDBaseT work?

HDBaseT uses an asymmetric method, sending audio, video, Ethernet, USB, controls and power from source to sink, but only 300 Mb are transferred back (Ethernet, controls, and possibly power). This asymmetric nature means that HDBaseT does not need to “pay” the protecting overhead for the video content that consumes most of the bandwidth. In other words, HDBaseT deals with error handling better than other technologies.

HDBaseT employs PAM16 encoding, which allows it to better able to handle electrical interferences, and a higher BER, without affecting performance. PAM16 is a version of Pulse Amplitude Modulation technology, where the digital data is representing as a coding scheme using 16 levels of DC voltage at high rates.

What is HDBaseT’s advantage regarding Bit Error Rate (BER)?

BER is the number of bit errors divided by the total number of transferred bits during a specific time interval. Bit errors are those bits that have lost its integrity due to noise, interference, or any problem with the cable.

As HDBaseT employs PAM16 encoding, it can better handle electrical interferences, and a higher BER, without affecting performance. PAM16 is a version of Pulse Amplitude Modulation technology, where the digital data is representing as a coding scheme using 16 levels of DC voltage at high rates.

Because of the 16 levels, any error has less of an effect on the total resulting signal. As such, HDBaseT does not need to pay an overhead to correct for inevitable errors.

What is HDBaseT Class A and Class B?

Class A is the traditional HDBaseT product, able to support all 5Play features and transmits for up to 100m/328 ft.

Class B is a more cost-effective solution for certain applications that do not require such distance and all features. It supports distances of up to 70m/230ft, and does not support Ethernet functionality.

What is Long-Reach HDBaseT?
Long Reach mode allows for long-reach connectivity – up to 150 m – for lower resolutions of up to 720p. By checking vendors’ data sheets and collaterals, you can determine if a product supports long reach or not.

Can I use any kind of category cable?
The HDBaseT Alliance specifies Cat5e or above.

What are the best practices for cabling as HDBaseT is concerned?
Since HDBaseT uses a regular category cable (LAN), any best practices for Ethernet cables also apply here. In general, you should be careful with cable handling (overbending, bundling, tight wraps, unnecessary untwisting), distances (refer to the manufacturers’ recommendations), sources of interference (keep cables away from power sources), and proper testing.

For a more detailed review of best practices regarding cabling, see the “The HDBaseT Installer’s Ten Cable Commandments.

Does HDBaseT support EDID and HDCP?
Yes, HDBaseT supports both for total protection of copyrighted content.

What are the differences between HDBaseT Spec 1.0 and Spec 2.0?
The first HDBaseT standard specification was released in 2010. In mid-2013, the HDBaseT Alliance released Spec 2.0, which brought many new features to the original standard. Primarily, with Spec 2.0, HDBaseT is now a multipoint-to-multipoint technology, enabling networking of the whole home and/or business. Spec 2.0 brings a plug-and-play solution for full connectivity.

From an architecture standpoint, Spec 1.0 addressed the physical and data link layers only of the generic communications OSI 7-layer model. HDBaseT 2.0 goes one step further and work on all the layers of the model.

In terms of features, Spec 2.0 brings:

  • Native support for a series of interfaces, including USB 2.0, which translates into a smaller and simpler to implement switch;

  • Multistreaming & daisy-chaining

  • Enhanced performance for 4K delivery over longer distances

  • Introduction of HDBaseT over fiber


Why did Spec 2.0 introduce fiber support? Isn’t transmission over category cable one of the tenets of HDBaseT?
HDBaseT was developed with the belief that it should allow for the transmission of high-definition video over the most ubiquitous cable around, ie, LAN cable, and be able to deal with commonplace noise and interference without compromising the quality, and without introducing latency.

Having said that, there are some industries and segments, such as medical and military, who are extremely strict regarding interference, and demand fiber as the transmission medium. In order to cater to those segments, the HDBaseT Alliance developed fiber support in Spec 2.0.

Fiber also allows transmissions over longer distances than category cable.

Is HDBaseT based on IP packets? Is HDBaseT Ethernet?
No. Although HDBaseT uses coding technology and uses the physical medium used by IP, it is not IP. HDBaseT uses T-packets, a different packetization protocol. HDBaseT uses the same coding technology as Ethernet and even has an Ethernet channel, but its packet-based technology is different from the traditional Ethernet packets.

Is HDBaseT compatible with coax cables?

No. HDBaseT transmits signal either through a LAN cable or fiber cable (in products that feature Spec 2.0 chipsets).

Is HDBaseT a replacement for HDMI?

No. HDBaseT works with and supports HDMI. HDBaseT is fully HDMI-compliant. While HDMI transmits high definition video over very short distances – a handful of meters/feet, HDBaseT can extend signal transmission for up to 100m/328ft.

Is HDBaseT an interim solution before all-IP solutions become viable?
No. HDBaseT is not an interim solution. Although IP has shown some promise for the transmission of high-definition audio, it cannot yet transmit ultra-high-definition video without compression over Ethernet cables. IP has some inherent weaknesses that have not yet been resolved.

What are the typical applications for HDBaseT?

HDBaseT is suitable for many applications, such as commercial deployments, residential and custom installations, digital signage, education, industrial PCs, healthcare, transportation, hospitality, broadcasting, and more.

To learn more how HDBaseT can suit a specific application, look at our library of case studies.

HDBaseT Features


What is 5Play?
5Play is the set of features delivered by HDBaseT: audio & video, USB, Ethernet, controls and power.

Which video resolutions are supported by HDBaseT?
HDBaseT delivers full high definition, including 3D, and 2K/4K uncompressed video. HDBaseT supports all key HDMI 2.0 features, including EPG, CEC, EDID and HDCP.

What kind of latency can I expect in video transmission?
Latency is the measurable time that it takes a signal to get from one point to another. HDBaseT adds virtually no latency to the signal – less than 10 microseconds over 100m of cable.

(One microsecond (μs) equals to one millionth (1/1,000,000) of a second. One microsecond is to one second what one second is to 11.6 days.)

What Ethernet is supported?
HDBaseT supports 100Mb Ethernet alongside the video, audio and other 5Play features being sent over the same cable.

What is Ethernet fallback mode?

HDBaseT supports Ethernet Fallback mode, which means the HDBaseT device can be plugged into an Ethernet-only infrastructure. The device will “realize” it, and will enable only the Ethernet capabilities of the connection. Since an HDBaseT port is identical to an Ethernet port, users can plug in and have fully functioning Ethernet – no frustrations.

Also, the manufacturer does not need to design a device with a separate HDBaseT vs. Ethernet port – it can be the same port that can be used for either HDBaseT (including Ethernet) or Ethernet only connectivity.

How is USB integrated into HDBaseT?

USB 2.0 is embedded in the HDBaseT chipset, enabling all functionalities that depend on USB, such as touch-screen, collaboration, KVM etc.

What control features are supported?

HDBaseT enables several control signals, such as Consumer Electronic Controls (CEC), Recommended Standard 232 (RS-232), USB, and infrared (IR). IP control is also enabled due to the support of an Ethernet channel.

What is the difference of IR Type A and Type B?

IR remote controls send modulated signals over the air. Modulated signals pick up the baseband data (the information) and modulate it, transferring it at a much faster rate (the modulated, or carrier frequency.)

Once you have an HDBaseT connection in place, it is important to know whether your IR receiver is demodulating the incoming IR signal (ie, transferring only the baseband data over the HDBaseT link) or not (ie, transferring both the baseband and carrier data over the HDBaseT link).

This is not an HDBaseT issue, but rather which way the IR receiver works. There are receivers that remove the modulation in the signal (Type A, passing only the baseband data) and there are receivers that “pass through” the signal (Type B – with no demodulation –transferring both baseband and carrier data). The important issue is that the far end of the link “knows” whether the data it receives is modulated (Type B) or not (Type A), so it knows whether to add modulation before it transmits it over the air to the far-end equipment. If it is Type A (ie, the modulation was removed), it must add modulation, as any signal that travels through the air must be modulated. HDBaseT works with both Type A and Type B. To check whether a product supports Type A or Type B, check the Certified Product List.

What is the power feature enabled by HDBaseT?

HDBaseT enables Power of HDBaseT (PoH), a variation of power over Ethernet (PoE). PoH enables up to 100W of DC power to be delivered over the same Cat cable, which is enough to power most end devices, such as large screen TVs.

How does HDBaseT transmit power?

Power over HDBaseT (POH) enables the transfer of DC power in conjunction with data signals over a single Ethernet cable to a distance of up to 100m. The POH standard is based on the IEEE 802.3at standard with the appropriate modifications to enable safe delivery of up to 100 watts (W) across all four-pairs of the Ethernet cable. Four-pair powering is the key to delivering more power with greater efficiency. Defined in the latest high-power PoE standards, four-pair powering gives powered devices two power interfaces so they can receive twice the power of earlier two-pair solutions by using all four pairs of Ethernet cable.

For a more detailed explanation, see the White Paper on PoH.

Is PoH and PoE interchangeable?
Yes and no. They are two different standards. If you happen to connect a PoH equipment into a PoE line, the maximum common power will be passed between them, ie, according to PoE.  PoE+ transmits up to 30W, while PoH transmits 100W.  If the device need more than 30W in this case, the power sourcing equipment (PSE – the device connected to the power supply) will shut off the power, and the powered device (PD) will not work.  The table below offers an easy to read comparison on the different power standards.

Power Comparison



































Type Standard PSE (W) PD(W)
PoE IEEE802.3af 2003 15.4 12.95
PoE+ IEEE802.3at 2009 30 25.5
UPoE Cisco (not standardized) 60 51
PoH HDBaseT 100 73

What is the largest TV HDBaseT can power?

As of today, HDBaseT’s 100W power transmission can power most TV sets up to 60 inches. Most TV manufacturers strive to comply with the Energy Star ™ specifications. These are constantly evolving and reducing the maximum power allowed per TV set.

The HDBaseT Alliance


What is the HDBaseT Alliance?

The HDBaseT Alliance advances and promotes the adoption of HDBaseT technology as the global standard for high definition, digital connectivity. Since its founding in 2010 by LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Valens, the Alliance has brought together the leading names in the Consumer Electronics and Professional AV manufacturers, and it counts today with more than 100 members and hundreds of products.

Members include the leading manufacturers of AV equipment in the world. They have a major role in defining the features and specifications of the HDBaseT standard, and in turn enjoy marketing and business benefits such as promotion of their HDBaseT products and brand, participation with the Alliance in industry events, social media and public relations support, participation in the Alliance’s certification program, and more.

Can I receive a copy of the HDBaseT specifications?

No. Only HDBaseT Alliance members are entitled to receive the specs.

Can I join as a member?

Membership at the Alliance is intended mostly to manufacturers – the benefits that membership brings are designed to bring value to them. For installers and integrators, we recommend the Installer Zone and the Installer Expert Program, with suitable benefits and advantages to this target audience. Also, both the Installer Zone and the Expert Program are free of charge!

Can I promote my installer services in the HDBaseT Alliance website?

YES!

We have introduced a new feature in the Installer Zone to highlight specific installers and collaborators. These will be the Installers of the Month, and we hope to have many candidates in the months to come.

Certification & Interoperability


 

What is the HDBaseT Certification Program?

The HDBaseT Certification Program is a verification and certification program to ensure standardization and product compliance and to promote interoperability of current and future HDBaseT products among vendors.

To be HDBaseT-certified, products are tested in an Alliance Recognized Testing Facility against a Golden Unit to verify proper operation and feature functionality.

What is the Golden Unit?

The Golden Unit is a device used as a comparison reference for HDBaseT products, based on the 5Play evaluation kit. The Golden Unit is a unique device designed specifically for HDBaseT certification purposes. It represents the ultimate HDBaseT product, as it supports the full 5Play feature set and can simulate several different HDBaseT scenarios.  All HDBaseT candidate devices, such as displays, projectors, matrixes and more, are tested against the Golden Unit for the features they claim to support. Once a product is certified, it can use the HDBaseT logo and be featured in the Alliance’s list of certified products – a valuable resource for installers to check suitability of HDBaseT products.

Once certified, is it safe to assume the product supports all 5Play features and it is interoperable with all other HDBaseT products?

No. HDBaseT certification is the first step, as it ensures compliance to the HDBaseT standard. That means that the product was implemented according to HDBaseT specifications. At a minimum, it means the product is certified for audio & video. If the product offers additional features – say control, Ethernet or power – it can also be tested and certified for those, but it’s up to the manufacturer to define what it will be tested for.

To clarify which features each product has been certified for, you should check the Certified Products List.

Interoperability is the ability of systems and equipment to work together. Once two devices are interoperable, they can share Information and data seamlessly. It is important to point out that a product may offer controls that are NOT HDBaseT-certified. That’s why it is important to check the HDBaseT Alliance’s list.

Also, sometimes vendors add proprietary features that will prevent the product from working with others. These features are not related to HDBaseT, and unfortunately go beyond the scope of certification from the Alliance. As such, you should also check each product’s collaterals for more information.

 

How many HDBaseT-certified products are in the market?

There are hundreds of HDBaseT-certified products in the market today, including extenders, matrixes, switchers, AV receivers, displays, and projectors. New certified products are added every day to the Certified Products List.

Are cables also certified?

No, the Alliance doesn’t certify cables, as HDBaseT can work with any standard Cat5e cable (or higher). The Alliance does recommend cables that are tested in an Alliance Recognized Testing Facility.   The cable recommendation program assists installers and consumers in the process of selecting LAN cables that meet the TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association) requirements and therefore work with HDbaseT devices.

For a list of recommended cables, click here.