HDanywhere mHub 4K 4x4 matrix review

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posted on Friday, 1st May 2015 by Steve May

HDanywhere  Matrix Switcher  4K  HDBaseT 


This latest addition to HDanywhere’s mHub family is, as its monicker clearly signposts, 4K-capable, but that’s not the only thing notable about this slick matrix. This HDBaseT-Lite switcher offers a streamlined design and adds some cool new functionality, including PoH receivers and webOS software platform.

HDanywhere mHub 4K 4x4 matrix: build and features
HDanywhere has really discovered its design mojo of late. The incoming layerCake AV distribution system is inspired, but even this more modest box represents quite a step up from the unapologetic functionality of the original mhub. Gone is the front fascia acne. Instead we have a slick white polycarbonate front panel with understated legends and backlit logo.

Mhub -4k -package Main Crop (1)

The form factor is a standard 19-inch rack mount chassis (measuring 43 x 4.5 x 14cm w/h/d). It’s actually only about half the dept of the 1080p mHub and weighs just 2.05kg (although the PSU is pretty hefty).

The four supplied HDBaseT-Lite receivers are also a world away from the little metal boxes we’ve seen before. Formed from polycarbonate, they're cast in blue, with nice graphical branding and have an Cat input at one end and HDMI output at the other. Also provided in the box are 4 IR TX and matching RX minijack buds. There’s also prominent Made in Britain branding, which is always reassuring to hear.

The matrix itself offers four HDMI source inputs and four HDBaseT-Lite Ethernet outputs, two of which have mirrored HDMI outputs. Incidentally, the Ethernet port and HDMI pairing here is a tight fit. My regular HDMI plug had to endure an uncomfortable commuter squeeze to fit; that said, HDanywhere’s SlimWire Platina HDMI cable with its thin headshell proved a perfect fit – there’s a lesson to be learnt there somewhere.

One of the big changes is the ability to manage the matrix from a browser web interface. This is a feature that’s trickled down from the all-blue Modular matrix, as is HeartBeat remote monitoring. The ability to log on remotely could save considerable time in call-outs. There’s well established configuration onboard too. The matrix offers CEC control of attached hardware, improved switching times and HDBaseT cable diagnostics.



IR Ports

HDanywhere mHub 4x4 matrix: performance
There’s no doubt that this is a powerful piece of kit. It can delivers 4K 2160p video up to 40m and Full HD 1080p to 70m, from four source devices to four connected displays.

Set up and configuration are via the aforementioned web interface. Download the brand’s mHub network tool, and once run it identifies the unit on the network. Open the webOS UI in a browser and you can rename and configure the connected sources and output, and access monitoring and feedback tools. The little blue receivers supplied are a dream to use. Measuring just 5.5 x 3.8 x 10cm (w/h/d), they’re pretty much plug and play. The matrix also supports two-way IR, and has a global IR port for control of integrated AVRs.

The question, of course, is just what 4K content do you intend to use with it? The mHub 4K matrix supports a variety of 4K resolutions and frame rates: 3840 x 2160 @30Hz with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling; cinema spec 4K 4096 x 2160 @24Hz 4:4:4, plus 4K 3840 x 2160 @60Hz but with 4:2:0 chroma subsampling. Cat 6a or above cabling is required for signal transmission. However there’s a caveat. The matrix does not offer HDCP 2.2 support.

Obviously, at present there’s little (ie next to nothing) commercial 4K content around. It’s possible to shoot your own 4K material using cameras like the Panasonic G4, or prosumer camcorders such as the Sony FDR-AX100e or Panasonic HC-X1000E, and many people are doing just that, but we’re still some way away from pay TV services (BT and Sky) or UHD Blu-ray coming to market. Of course, in just six months things could change dramatically.


HDCP 2_edited

We did, however, have one source to hand: Sony’s FMP-X5. This is a standalone HEVC enabled media player with a Netflix 4K client. It’s intended for use with Sony’s 4K projector range and select Sony 4K UHD TVs. So what happens when you route the X5 through the mHub 4K? Not a lot, actually. The media player immediately knows that it is not connected to an HDCP 2.2 enabled HDMI, and throws up a ‘Not Compatible’ text screen. With HDCP2.2 copy protection almost certain to be adopted by all commercial services, this is prescient of what will happen down the road, and rather curtails the mHub’s 4K 2160p aspirations.

Control options are wide. There are IP or RS232 control drivers available for AMX, Control 4, Crestron, Savant, RTI, URC, Fibaro, Loxone and Demo Pad. You can also snapshot cable diagnostics in real time with performance feedback, to help assess the kind of cable infrastructure you’re dealing with.

HDanywhere mHub 4x4 matrix: Verdict
Overall, the mHub 4K is an impressive unit. Even when you factor out 4K because of those pesky HDCP 2.2 issues, you’re left with a sophisticated matrix that offers more than the regular 1080p model. The webOS UI is very neat, and the design of the HDBaseT-Lite receivers excellent. Caveats may apply, but this is a well-specified keenly priced piece of kit regardless.

The HDanywhere mHub 4K 4x4 matrix is available now.
Price: £2,000
For more information on HDanywhere products and services, visit our resource page here.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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