New Technology Could Replace HDMI With Ethernet Cables

Are HDMI's days numbered? They might be if a new a new audio/video (A/V) cable standard developed by four tech companies catches on.

The newly finalized cable technology, known as HDBaseT, transfers audio and video signals over ordinary RJ-45 ethernet cables. It's the result of an effort that started a little over six months ago by LG, Samsung, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Valens Semiconductor,

Goodbye, HDMI

The venerable HDMI cable was first produced back in 2003, and the rise of Blu-ray and the growing popularity of HDTV fueled its adoption.

While HDMI has several advantages to other sorts of A/V cables, it isn't without its problems. The technology often suffers from switching delays and is known for its limitations when it comes to cable length--problems that HDBaseT could solve.

The Benefits of HDBaseT

HDBaseT will be able to deliver full-HD video, audio, Web connectivity, and power over one cable simultaneously.

Whereas a HDMI cable can be no more than a few meters in length, HDBaseT supports cables up to 100 meters long. The new cable spec can also carry 100 watts of power via the cable.

But what do all these promising advantages really mean? The back of any TV is usually an unsightly mess of cables. If this specification proves popular, it'll mean fewer cables. A single cable would not only power your television, but it could also send in all your data--sound, visuals, and more. Replacing multiple cables with just one is a welcome change.

When Will It Become Commonplace?

The HDMI cable isn't dead just yet, but the HDBaseT alliance hopes that devices supporting the new standard will ship later this year, with the new cable becoming more widely adopted during 2011. Whether this desire will become a reality remains to be seen, especially since an updated HDMI specification is expected in the not-too-distant future.

You can find more information--including this comparison table (PDF)--on the HDBaseT Website.

Would you like to see one cable to rule them all? Let us know in the comments.

[HDBase-T via Thinq]

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