It used to be a Home Theatre installer’s worst headache, but now long cable runs carrying 1080p HD resolution is possible.
I remember first writing about Home Theatre systems for magazines in the UK back in the late eighties. It was a small market and the systems were cumbersome, relying on low-power projectors or unfeasibly large CRT TVs. LaserDisc was about the only technological breakthrough in home cinema at the time. It was just a shame there were hardly any PAL video discs to play on them in Europe!
It was a different story in the States, where Home Theatre was already well developed and there was a catalogue of NTSC LaserDiscs. Still the same unfeasibly large TVs though, but the buoyant market in the USA pushed developers to make the improvements we can all now see, in terms of high definition, flat-screen TV, Blu-ray players with amazing colour depth and definition, and everything in digital. But with all this high definition audio and video needing to be carried around the home, manufacturers couldn’t afford to ignore the supposedly simplest, least sexy part of the system – the cables.
Home theatre installers face a big challenge when it comes to signal transmission. The latest HDMI cable technology allows very fast, high resolution 1080p digital signals to be transported from decoder or Blu-ray player to projector or screen, but serious problems kick in when you want to send those delicate signals more than about 25 feet (7.5m). The colour becomes less vibrant and you lose image sharpness and clarity, the very reasons you probably chose to invest in HDTV. IXOS has been working with the HDMI technology since its early days and the cable itself has been developed to the point where physics draws the line to taking it much further, so what’s the solution?
IXOS is one company that’s come up with a solution – its iVEC technology. It uses a patented microchip that works as a passive equaliser to filter out the low frequency noise that’s unavoidably generated in longer cables and degrades the signal noticeably on 720p/1080i, and when using considerably shorter cable runs with 1080p. Not only does iVEC allow 720p/1080i and 1080p to be transmitted over longer cables, it cleans the signal over shorter runs too.
With 1080p (twice the resolution of 720p/1080i), an IXOS HDMI cable will carry a pure signal up to 7.5m. By placing the company’s XHT708 hybrid passive filter on their XHT458 HDMI-to-HDMI cable, a 1080p signal can be transmitted up to 11m (36ft). And if 36 feet still isn’t enough, the XHT808 in-line Repeater combines an active version of the iVEC technology with a signal line amplifier. Using the 5-volt supply within the HDMI cable to power the microchip, the XHT808 allows 1080p signals to be transmitted up to 25m, and 720p/1080i signals an astonishing 35m without noticeable degradation.