HDBaseT shows why Ethernet won't die
After cables came wireless, and after wireless came even better cables. Deep into the age of wireless, who still cares about cables? Step forward Sony, Samsung and LG which have dreamed up something called, HDBaseT, a sneaky and unexpected...
Deep into the age of wireless, who still cares about cables? Step forward Sony, Samsung and LG which have dreamed up something called, HDBaseT, a sneaky and unexpected reinvention of Ethernet to challenge HDMI for high-definition interconnects amongst other uses.
The mildly fascinating thing is how incredibly obvious it all is. When all else fails, try and Ethernet cable. It just works. In the case of HDBaseT, the concept is that this new copper cable will carry everything and anything, that is video, data, audio and also power and do so for any trype of device, including TVs and PCs. It even uses the humble RJ-45 connector.
It will also do all this over unusually long distances familiar to anyone who has ever had to lend broadband to a neighbour 15 metres away when the WiFi has stopped working. HDBaseT will be good for up to 100 metres, says the imaginatively-named HDBaseT Alliance.
Being based on Ethernet it will also handle Gigabit data speeds and be cheap, not something you would imagine applying to rival cable standards such as Intel's fibre-based Light Peak.
Confusingly, however, there will be HDMI 1.4, and then there is DisplayPort 1.2 and something called DiiVA. These are all standards based on cables, remember, and that's before factoring in the welter of unfathomable wireless standards that would purport to much of the same things.
I've blogged my scepticism on that particular technology tidal wave before. Diversity is a great notion but when it comes to the pathways between devices and software, does the world really need a dozen different ways to achieve very much the same thing?
You smell politics in all of this. Intel has its standard and so the others want to have their own (royalty-free) standard too. Despite its rather IEEE-sounding name, HDBaseT could be a pragmatic way of getting rid of clutter, in much the same way that Wireless Ethernet anchored data without wires to a multi-purpose standard that had room to evolve.
What all this means is that, despite the wireless-is-more-convenient hype, wires have their advantages, starting with reliability, security and low cost, and will be around for decades to come.
Now they just need to rename it High Definition Ethernet and they're home and dry.
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