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The advent of HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) has enabled us to enjoy dramatically improved picture and audio quality on our TV’s and Home Theatre systems. In spite of the incredible increase in the transmission quality HDMI has some unfortunate limitations.
Firstly cable length, HDMI cables are required to transmit a lot of data at high speed between source and output device and are thus limited to around 10-15m maximum length depending on quality, most HDMI devices are supplied with a relatively short 1.5-2m HDMI cable.
HDMI cables are manufactured in fixed lengths, HDMI cable cannot be cut and simply re-joined to desired length, cutting and joining an HDMI cable will destroy it’s effectiveness.
HDMI cables are quite bulky with fairly large HDMI sockets on each end and are thus difficult to fit into pipes and conduit to run across a room or from one room to another.
Good quality HDMI cables can be quite expensive.
As a result of these limitations we often end up with the typical installation as depicted below where only one TV in our home receives the full High Definition Audio and Video signal and all the other TV’s have to make do with the old fashioned Standard Definition Audio and Video quality.
High Definition DSTV Decoder.
HDMI Cable, providing High Definition Audio & Video.
Normal RF Cabling
Inferior quality Standard Definition Audio & Video
High Definition DSTV Decoder.
Cat 5 Cabling
Top quality High Definition Audio & Video Throughout
HDMI Splitter or Matrix.
Fortunately there are devices out there that enable us to overcome the limitations of HDMI cables allowing us to provide top quality High Definition Audio & Video to more than one device over greater distances.
These devices are known as HDMI convertors, splitters and matrixes with each device offering varying features and benefits.
If you only need to run HDMI over a greater distance to one device then we use a convertor, we plug the HDMI cable from the source device into a converter and run a much cheaper and more flexible Cat 5/6 cable to the TV where we use another convertor to connect a HDMI cable to the TV. Distances up to 50m can be achieved with this technique.
Should you wish to connect a single source, or multiple sources, to multiple TV’s then you will need to add an HDMI Splitter or HDMI Matrix Switch, these devices have multiple HDMI inputs and outputs, each HDMI output is converted to Cat5/6 and then re-converted to HDMI at the individual TV’s. An HDMI Splitter generally has one input with multiple outputs so all connected TV’s will only be able to view the same signal, an HDMI Matrix is capable of receiving multiple inputs that can be switched between the outputs so all connected TV’s can choose which signal they choose to view, some HDMI Matrixes also offer Infra-Red through put with remote controls that can be setup to control not only which source you choose to view, but also allow control of the source device, like your DSTV decoder etc.