There's a revolution taking place in the world of HD video signal distribution, led by products such as the HDanywhere Multiroom+. Thanks to a rash of gizmos, you can now route hi-def around your house's ring main and across RF coax cable runs, or wirelessly via an HDMI sender. But it's the arrival of HDBaseT which is potentially the biggest game changer. HDBaseT allows a single run of inexpensive Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable to deliver lossless HD video and audio, plus 100Mbps internet, and power (up to 100W), up to 100m without any signal degradation. See all digital home reviews.
HDBaseT has been adopted as a standard by Samsung, Sony, LG and dozens of other familiar names in AV and IT. Until now, HDBaseT kit has been extremely expensive, but the Multiroom+, by HDanywhere, brings the technology within reach of enthusiasts for the first time. This £1,500 package features everything you need to install a multi-room HDBaseT system, including the Cat 5e cable. Visit Digital Home Advisor.
The main HDanywhere Multiroom+ controller sports four HDMI inputs and four RJ45 ethernet outputs. Each output tethers to one of four small HDBaseT receivers. As the Multiroom+ unit doesn't implement power over IP, these receivers come with their own power supply. A simple remote control is included for the main unit. See also: 3DTVs group test: what's the best 3D TV?
Setup is simple. Just plug your sources in at the hub-end, connect the receivers via their HDMI output to the screens at your networked locations, and power-up the HDanywhere Multiroom+.
All connected feeds become accessible at all your display points. We had a momentary snafu, when the HDanywhere Multiroom+ transmitter failed to lock with the receivers, but a reboot quickly solved that.
Build quality is outstanding. The design may be a bit industrial, but these units certainly don't look as though they'll fall apart anytime soon. Of course, it's not just sound and vision which can be poured over HDBaseT. The HDanywhere Multiroom+ transmitter will also pipe your local ethernet network across the cable; a LAN connection is provided for your router.
Performance is outstanding. We analysed full-HD 1080p test charts, played from Blu-ray and noted no artefacting, stuttering or dropped frames whatsoever. Picture quality appears completely transparent to source, even over a 100m run. The HDanywhere Multiroom+ system is 3D-compliant, and apparently supports 4k (although we were unable to test this). There's negligible latency.
The HDanywhere Multiroom+ will also deliver bitstream audio intact, such as DTS or AC3, a trick which sets it apart from most of its HD distribution rivals. Both Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks from Blu-ray found their way over our HDBaseT network to a waiting AV receiver.