10 reasons NOT to buy a HDMI/HDbaseT matrix
HDMI distance transmission is error prone. Sending 8Gbps over copper is just unreliable. Using HDBaseT or fiber optics can improve this, but at a very significant cost increase. HDbaseT is basically a HDMI matrix plus HDBaseT transmission. Other than reducing transmission issues, it does not address any of the issues below.
HDMI matrixes do not do video format conversion. This means that true non-blocking matrixes must force all sources to the lowest common resolution supported by all displays. This process should be automatic, but since many devices have errors in their EDID tables time consuming manual intervention is usually needed. This also needs to be redone each time sources or displays are added/removed. This means that the video format will be limited to 1080p or 720p in every real installation. The claims of 4K support are of no practical value.
HDMI matrixes do not do audio format conversion. This means that true non-blocking matrixes must force all sources to the lowest common format supported by all displays. This process should be automatic, but since many devices have errors in their EDID tables time consuming manual intervention is usually needed. This also needs to be redone each time sources or displays are added/removed. This means that audio is usually limited to PCM stereo, which is a limitation for connected receivers that should get Dolby/DTS through HDMI, but can't.
HDMI matrixes claim to have superior video quality since it is uncompressed. This is very misleading. All video sources begin as compressed, generally at a bit rate of 10-20Mbps. If this is later re-encoded using as good or better codec with a higher bit rate, there is no loss of quality (and sometimes the video processor can actually improve the subjective quality). The uncompressed HDMI video just makes it harder to transmit and leads to artifacts from transmission errors.
Requires dedicated cabling for video distribution. HDBaseT can share it with low speed Ethernet, but again at a high cost.
Switching speeds can be slow because sources are not synchronized. HDMI to display link must be reset each time.
Fixed matrix sizes, can't add sources/zones easily. Can't scale to very large systems due to key limitations and high bandwidth signal switching limitations.
HDMI matrixes claim that their low latency is a benefit. Once again, this is not something that works in a real system. The average digital TV latency is around 120ms, so even if your matrix has zero delay it is already too much for good lip sync with in wall speaker systems. The bottom line is every installation using centralized in wall audio MUST HAVE audio delay for lip sync correction. Once you have this, it doesn't matter what the total video latency is, it just must be constant.
HDMI matrixes are made only for centralized video distribution. Unfortunately (for them), technology is rapidly moving toward a more distributed and cloud based methods. This will greatly limit their future usability.
Finally, the biggest reason HDMI matrixes are a poor choice is that they cost about 3x more than prior technology (component) and do not bring any new usable features to the customer. This is just bad business for everyone.
Why Netplay video over IP is better
Netplay uses standard Ethernet for distribution, with an average bit rate of 30 Mbps. This means it can be sent over existing 100Mbps networks, Gigabit networks, wireless links, Ethernet over coax (MOCA), and many other options. Netplay delivers error free flexible distribution.
Netplay decoders do full format conversion from the transmitted video format (always the native source resolution) to whatever format the display supports. For example, if your source is 1080p the Netplay encoder will transmit 1080p. Each Netplay decoder that tunes that channel will then scale the format to whatever the native format of the display is automatically. The source and display formats are no longer inter-dependent, meaning you will always get the best picture without hassles or limitations.
Netplay decoders do full format conversion from the transmitted audio format (always the native source resolution) to whatever format the display supports. For example, if your source is DTS the Netplay encoder will transmit DTS. Each Netplay decoder that tunes that channel will then convert the format to whatever the audio format is needed. The source and display formats are no longer inter-dependent, meaning you will always get the best audio without hassles or limitations.
Netplay uses H.264 for compression, which is the same codec used by Blu-Ray. The bit rate is user programmable, but as long as you use a value larger than the source material there is no loss of quality (default is set for Blu-Ray quality).
Netplay uses standard Ethernet and does not need it's own private network. One Ethernet cable is all you need.
Switching is fast because Netplay decoders automatically synchronize all sources and never force the TVs to resynch, renegotiate HDCP, or even change format.
Netplay is infinitely scalable. You can add sources and zones 1 at a time. There is no upper limit since Ethernet switching can effectively accommodate any bandwidth requirement. Netplay encryption over IP also does not suffer from HDCP key limitations.
Netplay works seamlessly with our CMX-A2 audio matrix switches to automatically synch your audio and video. It will also report the constant video delay for each display so other audio matrix products can be used.
Not only is Netplay designed for both centralized and cloud based video distribution, it integerates them in a common interface.
Netplay distribution networks cost the same or less than an equivalent HDMI matrix, but they also bring many new features that can help you sell the system to your customers (see below).
NetPlay bonus features: