High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables have revolutionized our entertainment experience by increasing the number of devices that can be easily linked to our TVs. They have simplified our electronic lives by making the cluster of wires that used to clutter up the area behind our TVs largely unnecessary. That being said, every Superman has its kryptonite, and, for HDMI, that kryptonite is length. Many factors affect an HDMI signal’s maximum length, including the distance you are spanning and differences in device output, interference, and technical requirements. Once a signal’s maximum length is reached, the quality of the signal begins to suffer or is lost completely.
How an HDMI signal extender can help
HDMI signal extenders can solve the problems caused by signal limitations and allow you to enjoy your entertainment to the fullest. An HDMI signal extender is a single device or pair of devices powered through either the 5V DC from the HDMI source or through an external power source. It enables information to be passed between multiple devices no matter where you are, significantly simplifying and improving the way you use your technology.
Why should you use a long range HDMI extender?
The primary benefit of using an HDMI extender is the ability to put some distance between two devices. For example, before HDMI extenders became available, if you wanted to watch a Blu-ray DVD player on a television in another room, you had to purchase a second Blu-ray player. Only being able to connect a single device at a time is fine if you only have one device, but if you have more than one, it is very inconvenient to have to disconnect and reconnect every time you want to switch between devices. This is no longer necessary, and devices such as Blu-ray players can easily be hooked up to a TV in an adjoining room without the need to buy additional devices.
So, is an HDMI signal extender necessary for your home? And, if so, is it possible to get a kit that allows you to get one that provides a quality signal without costing an arm and a leg? In most cases, the answer to both questions is a resounding yes, but before we discuss how HDMI extenders can benefit you, it’s important to understand how they work and what types you have to choose from.
How different types of HDMI signal extenders work
There are several types of HDMI extenders, and the type you ultimately choose depends on your own personal needs and preferences. Here is a brief overview of the various models of HDMI signal extenders to help you decide which one is right for you.
HDMI over Cat5 and Cat6 extenders work by connecting a video source to a small device (known as a balun) with a short HDMI cable. The balun’s job is to pass the HDMI signal along to one or more Cat5 or Cat6 cables. A similar box receives the signal and passes it back onto an HDMI cable, which connects to your display. (In case you’re wondering, here is the difference between Cat5 and Cat6 wire.)
HDMI over Coax extenders consist of a transmitter and a receiver and can increase your signal by up to 300 feet. The transmitter box connects to the HDMI source (DVD player, gaming console, etc.) with an HDMI cable. The HDMI source connects to the HDTV display the same way, up to 100 meters (or about 300 feet) away.
Wireless HDMI extenders are especially useful in situations where wires are either inconvenient or impossible to use. They function by putting a transmitter near the video source and a small receiver by the TV. New technology allows wireless HDMI extenders to put out an HD signal with full 1080p resolution over 600 feet away without the inconvenience of having wires hanging out all over the place.
Before buying an HDMI signal extender, consider whether it’s something you really need. If your run is 50 feet or less, a simple HDMI cable should be enough, but for anything more, an HDMI extender may very well be necessary. Either way, an HDMI signal extender allows you to get more out of your entertainment, and, for most of us, that makes it more than worth what it costs.