In my ongoing quest for a decent AV set up at home, one of the approaches is to distribute HDMI output of various devices out to other rooms. This post is a quick list of technologies in this area (certainly not definitive!)
- HDMI extenders are used to send HDMI signals over longer distances if a direct cable cannot reach (HDMI has length limitations – once source saying 5m, another 15m). Useful to send a HDMI signal off to a bedroom for example.
- HDMI switches can be used to select one of multiple HDMI sources. A 4 input HDMI switch has 4 inputs and 1 output.
- HDMI matrixes are like HDMI switches, but they have multiple outputs. A 4 x 4 matrix for example has 4 input sources and 4 output connectors. The 4 outputs can then be sent off to other rooms in the house.
HDMI matrixes are particularly interesting to me as its close to what I want to achieve. I can have the Foxtel, DVD players, etc all in one location plugged into the matrix. The matrix outputs can then be sent off to different rooms in the house were TVs are (e.g. family room and master bedroom). Each of the 4 outputs can individually select which of the 4 inputs to view.
I have not ruled out a HDMI matrix in my final solution. They seem very close to what I want to achieve. Negatives however include:
- Yet another remote is required to select the HDMI input to view.
- Does not integrate nicely with Panasonic Viera Link, Sony Sync etc. I would like to select an input source on the TV and start watching. With a HDMI matrix, on the TV I need to select the HDMI input to view, then use the matrix remote to select which input to view. Feels a little clunky.
- Not sure if the matrixes cut out some functionality. For example, HDMI allows “commands” to be sent from a TV back to a DVD (for example). But what if multiple rooms are viewing the same input source? Which command set (if any) will get through to the device?
I am not sure if a HDMI matrix with HDMI extenders for each remote location is going to be my final solution or not. It looks like a possibility, but not a slam dunk.
Next I need to do some more DLNA reading and learning. (I found this article to be a particularly good introduction.) DLNA is an alternative to HDMI to achieve the goals I laid out in a previous post. Rather than have multiple HDMI sources being sent out over dedicated cables, my current understanding is you plug a computer network cable into your TV so it can stream content to be viewed over a normal computer network. This requires no dedicated cable runs, as per HDMI. Many of the newest TVs I see in my local shops have DLNA support built in now, so it seems to becoming mainstream. My main confusion is about how much (if any) control over the source device being viewed is catered for.
I’ve got a 20m HDMI 1.4 spec cable and it works perfectly, even in HD.