How Network Cables Will Replace HDMI, DisplayPort

By Matthew Braga

The next big thing in audio/video wiring won't be a new, proprietary format, but something you already have — a standard Ethernet cable.

Planning on wiring your house with Cat-6 cabling? As if you needed another reason why, a new audio/video standard might finally convince you.  
This week, a consortium of manufacturers from Samsung to LG finalized the specification for what they call HDBaseT, a new ethernet-based standard that aims to be the future of connectivity for our digital devices. While current offerings from HDMI and DisplayPort do a great job at sending audio and video to our HDTVs, the new standard goes where today's cables fail to tread, pushing internet connectivity, uncompressed content and even power over a single, unified cable — with a familiar connection we already know and love.

future 4K formats. And to top things off, there's room for standard internet connectivity too, "making it possible for a single-connector TV to receive power, video/audio, Internet and control signals from the same cable."

 Some of HDBaseT's initial partners and features.
over a Cat-6 cable, the audio/video signals remain unchanged, meaning such a  setup is incompatible with regular IP traffic. HDBaseT, however, combines the two, allowing both to coexist on the same cable. And while DisplayPort can provide connectivity for USB devices, HDBaseT manages to take that philosophy even further.

 Routers like this could be used to cheaply route HD signals through your house. Awesome!

But what's most impressive is how soon we're expected to see HDBaseT reach the market, with the first devices planned for release by the end of the year, and widespread adoption by 2011. And with 3D content finally picking up steam, and internet connectivity becoming a must-have feature for home theater connoisseurs, the timing couldn't have been better for the framework of the future to invade our homes. 

In fact, it already has — with the cables in place, all we need now is the technology to use it.  
Images via Flickr users splorp and vonKinder.