HDMI, we hardly knew ye. Introduced in 2003, it held forth the promise of long cable runs, high-speed data exchange with enough bandwidth for HD video, digital audio included, as well as the ability to control multiple peripherals from one device. It has taken some time to deliver on all this potential, and we’ve just started learning about the ins and outs for HDMI 1.4. So is it possible that the HDMI connector is going to retire so soon?
That’s a real possibility with the new HDBaseT specification that was finalized this week. This uses a standard Ethernet connector, but can carry network signals, uncompressed 1080p/60 video, multi-channel audio, and even provide power to devices. It uses the same Cat5e/6 network cables, and can be configured in daisychain and star configurations which could make device connection far simpler for consumers. The new design makes it easier to take advantage of content available on home networks and the Internet, and is expected to be able to switch faster between devices than HDMI can currently.
According to a press release from the HDBaseT Alliance, the first products could start to appear as early as the second half of this year, followed by major adoption next year. Will it be enough better than HDMI that it will be able to reach a critical mass of installations quickly? That remains to be seen, but with founding members that include LG, Samsung, and Sony, they have the market share to make this stick.