posted on Friday, 29th June 2012 by Steve May
The single wire HDBaseT standard has been promising to revolutionise media distribution for years. The ability to shoehorn uncompromised hi-def and lossless audio, along with IR control, internet and power (affectionately known as 5-play convergence), down a single, solitary CAT 5e/6/7 LAN cable makes it far more than just another interconnect option.
UK firm HDanywhere has been quick to recognise its potential. The Multiroom+ package reviewed here is a four-way multimedia distribution system that's potentially a massive time-saver for installers. Included in the box is the main HDanywhere central matrix, four receivers and power adaptors, four 'Magic Eye' remote blasters and looms of LAN cable. Everything you need, in fact, to multi-room four rooms.
Given that the Multiroom+ works over quite some distance, up to 100m, it should certainly cover the majority of residential jobs, and probably quite a few commercial ones too. Be aware though that patch panels could dimish this reach of this system by causing additional resistance on the line.
HDanywhere Multiroom+ 4x4 HDBaseT: Build and
First impressions are good, with build quality appearing exceptionally robust. As we saw on the brand's similarly constructed HD over Ethernet Multi-room system, both the main matrix and the RX units have sturdy aluminium bodywork which inspires confidence. The rear panel of the matrix offers four Ethernet inputs, plus an RS232 port, two additional 100BT LAN ports (one connects to a router, the only places the matrix on your network), four HDMI source inputs and a simple source select remote control. The central hub is relatively compact, measuring 317 x 156 x 28mm (w/d/h).
Installation is quick and hassle free. You need only connect your HD sources (satellite, Freeview, Freesat or disc players), and tether the appropriate receiver by cable. An HDMI output on these then plugs into the remotely located TV. Consequently, the system is just as likely to appeal to enthusiastic amateurs as CI pros. The receivers themselves are very small, and could with some ingenuity be hidden behind a TV display. Typically, your most watched source would be tied to the number one input. The central hub has a small memory which stores the handshake data; should the system fail to connect, a simple restart of this unit should solve any problems. When you change components, you'll probably need to perform a hard reset, to clear out old greetings.
The central hub offers four piercing LED status indicator displays for on-body control. There's also an HDCP indicator light, which confirms source and display have been authenticated, plus a Link indicator which confirms that the receiver unit is online.
HDanywhere Multiroom+ 4x4 HDBaseT:
The transmission process proves to be completely transparent. Multiple test signals confirm that the delivered HDMI picture does not suffer from any compression artefacts. We can also confirm lossless audio is delivered, which means the Multiroom+ could be used to feed a home theatre room. The matrix can also connect to a router, using the supplementary RJ45 Ethernet jacks on the hub; this layers internet connectivity into the connection. HDBaseT uses a unique line coding technique to transfer audio, control and Ethernet, without compromising the bandwidth needed by video. Theoretically, the system also supports 4K transmission but that went untested for obvious reasons.
The long term future for the technology is looking good, with HDBaseT compatible Ethernet ports starting to appear on diverse products. Infocomm saw several projectors launch with compatible ports, which in itself is a game-changer, and other consumer electronics devices are also on the cards. The ability to deliver internet and AV through a single channel makes it ideal for the next generation of connected devices, greatly simplifying hook-up and functionality. A recent Inside CI visit to Onkyo's R&D division in Osaka saw the brand comment that it had HDBaseT "under consideration" for future AVRs.
HDanywhere Multiroom+ 4x4 HDBaseT:
Overall, this debut multiroom offering gets a big thumbs up. Well built, versatile and easy to install, it ticks all the right boxes. If you need to route HD and net connectivity efficiently, and find conventional cable and Homeplug options too limited for the job, this HDBaseT system is a no-brainer.
HDanywhere Multiroom+ 4x4 is available now
Retail price: £1,499
For more visit the official HDconnectivity website
Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics
industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.