In-depth: HD Connectivity HDBaseT and HDMI training

posted on Monday, 3rd June 2013 by David Slater

Training  HDBaseT  HD Connectivity  HD over IP  HDMI 

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UK audio-visual distribution specialist HD Connectivity likes to do things differently. An early advocate of HDBaseT digital technology, with its HDAnywhere 4×4 Multiroom+ package and the recently released 4×2 hybrid matrix solution, the company now finds itself at the forefront of HD video signal management.

It's unsurprising then to learn that the brand also takes a fresh approach to education, holding its Rethink HD Distribution training courses at the Morgan Motor Company Visitor Centre in Malvern. The events run bi-monthly and cost £25 per attendee, which basically covers food and refreshment. "Training sessions are usually conducted in uninspiring classroom-like environments," explains managing director Chris Pinder, "so instead we host our training events surrounded by some of the world's most desirable sports cars." It's a novel approach.

Newcomers are made to feel welcome. Chris opens proceedings with a run down of the size of the custom install market, tapping into CEDIA research. There's no PowerPoint to follow, just accompanying graphics on a huge HDC video wall placed centre stage. Growing interest in HDBaseT is attracting a wide variety of attendees, from both the custom install community as well the aerial and satellite trade. The day Inside CI attended had a mix of installers already active in CI as well as satellite installers eager to learn more about the HD world. Some literally travel thousands of miles to attend, including Cyprus and the Czech Republic.

Pinder says the growing attraction to aerial installers is completely understandable. He describes HBaseT networking "as a logical next step" for the trade, given that the digital TV switchover is history and dish penetration is high. "Many are scrabbling around at the moment, wondering what to do next, unsure of whether to jump onboard with solar or become electricians…"

HDBaseT is clearly a skill set well worth having. The two sessions balance between a morning spent looking at HDMI tech in deep detail, and an afternoon spent learning about HD Connectivity's own range of HDanywhere solutions, and real world applications. It's a good balance.

During the early days, HDMI was a nightmare to work with; if you were trying to send signals over more than 30 meters you were going to have weird things happening. The course opens with a backgrounder on HDMI which goes a long way to explaining why. When you're trying to send a billion bits per second you're pushing your luck over long distances. It's a massive amount of data by anyone's reckoning. There's also talk about the bi-directional nature of HDMI and a breakdown of system intelligence. Information is conveyed clearly, explaining how source devices are interrogated to output the optimum signal for the best possible picture. We're even treated to a breakdown of the HDMI cable itself, with an explanation of what each wire in the inner jacket does. One of the most important, we're told, is the one carrying the 5v power - "this is the life blood of the system." Without it you're never going to get a picture. The tutorial moves onto HDCP and how it works between devices. Having wasted  many an hour looking for cabling faults only to find out that the HDCP lock between devices was responsible, this section is much appreciated.

The session delves into other areas of HDMI mythology, including Deep Colour and X.V Color, as well as the confusion surrounding the different iterations of the standard up to v1.4.

There's also a demystification of HDMI and EDID control. There's a lot of clever things going to troubleshoot. The source device needs to know what video information to send out, consequently if you have lots of screens with many different resolutions the EDID will take the lowest resolution and display this across all screens. We're told how HDanywhere matrices allow installers to guarantee the highest resolution buy using a fake identity, via the setup menu.

After lunch is the HD distribution techniques session, which allows for a closer look at the HDanywhere matrix range. In addition to the 4x4 Multiroom+ and high value 4X2 Hybrid package, there's a chance to get hands on with the new Modular chassis, which will be available in both 4-in/4-out and 8-in/8-out configurations. The great thing about the Modular approach is that you only populate it with the cards that you require, and so only pay for what you need.

The brand has even developed its own operating system for these matrices, called Heartbeat-OS. This allows the matrix control panel to be accessed directly or remotely via IP or web interface, and provides real-time information, allowing installers to modify, backup and restore IP, EDID, CEC settings, port assignments and firmware. What's more it's all stored on a removable USB. Getting up close with this kit also allows you to appreciate just how well-built and robust the Hdanywhere offerings appear to be. This certainly seemed to inspire confidence in the attendees.  There's no heavy sell of the hardware during the event. Once an installer completes the course, their status on the brand's Dealer locator tool is changed to Approved Installer, which means they register higher on site seearches. 

And if all that wasn't enough, there is also time to take a nose around the Morgan car factory itself. For the petrol heads amongst us, this proved a real treat.

Overall, we were very impressed with quality of the HD Connectivity course. It goes into a good deal of depth, and then puts it all in context. For those looking for an instant upgrade in their HDBaseT knowledge it's well worth booking onto.

For more on HD Connectivity and the HDanywhere product range, visit our partner page here.
Also read:
HDanywhere unveils Modular HDMI matrix switcher
Slimwire Platina HDMI cables all white on the night
HDanywhere 4x2 HDBaseT Hybrid matrix review
HDanywhereMultiroom+HDBaseT review

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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Posted by Stuart Burgess on 10th June 2013, 12:26 PM
Attended both day with HDC and found the course to be very informative. If you have a basic knowledge on HD Distribution (i.e. how to install a matrix) then you might find it a little basic but, it’s a good opportunity to stand face to face with HDC to ask them any question you might have about their products and put faces to names you might talk to on the phone. Really enjoyed the two days and would recommend it to anyone in the Ci industry or anyone wishing to learn more about HD distribution.

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