Let’s Hope IEEE Votes NO on the HDBaseT Adoption

hdbaset-0115Last week, I received an embargoed press release that the HDBaseT Alliance has submitted its so-called standard to be adopted by IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

IEEE adoption is a big deal — not only is the IEEE the world’s largest association of technical professionals with more than 400,000 members in chapters around the world, but it’s also the governing body of “standards.” And, they’re all standards you’ve heard of and use daily.

Bluetooth? Them. Wi-Fi? Them. Ethernet? Them.

HDBaseT? Good God, I hope not!

Why hate on HDBaseT? You are mistaken if you think I don’t love HDBaseT. HDBaseT is awesome — when followed by the so-called “adopters” and when we, as users, know what the heck is on that CATx cable — which is seldom.

What do I mean? Well, I’ll hold-off rehashing my biggest complaint by simply pointing you to a blog I wrote 14-months ago all but BEGGING the HDBaseT Alliance to do something about the lack of interoperability between HDBaseT devices.

So, how are things going now? Well, not much better.

ieee-0115At CEDIA last year I sat down with Sandra Welfeld, the HDBaseT Alliances’ communications director, and asked them to update me on the progress they’d made getting their own “adopters” of their “standard” to follow their own standard. She said they have been so busy growing that they hadn’t had time to send out the HDBaseT police to penalize or chastise the violators — those not properly labeling what part of the HDBaseT 5Play they are playing with/in.

What is 5Play? Well, assuming you do what the HDBaseT Alliance says to do, you have a connector going either into or out of your box, TV, projector, switcher, processor, etc., which has HD (or better) video, audio, control, Ethernet and Power. But the problem is, some have video and audio, but no power. Or, control, video and audio, but no Ethernet. Or, video but no audio. And so on.

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Again, I am not going to rehash the problem with this, technically, in this blog as you an read my blog from 2012 on that. However, the fact that manufacturers are claiming HDBaseT and not following the standard — well, that’s a problem. But, a bigger problem, to be honest, is that the HDBaseT seems to have no ability to enforce their own standard — or, won’t.

Look, I totally get the business model here — the HDBaseT isn’t doing us a favor — it’s business. It was all created by a chip-manufacturer called Valens with an incredibly great idea — let’s take RGBHV, audio, the plethora of control standards, Ethernet and power and put it all on a chip that can be sent down one piece of CATx cable — and simplify signal routing and distribution for both the HomeAV and ProAV markets. And, it’s an awesome concept. Valens realized they couldn’t do it alone — as they were a chip company, so they enlisted some heavy-hitting names: Samsung, LG and Sony — three companies that, normally, don’t play in the same sand-box — and created the HDBaseT Alliance as a non-profit in 2010. Business model solidified — best part about it for Valens, oh by the way, is that they are the only HDBaseT chip manufacturer — follow the money!

I think Valens is run by geniuses! They had a great idea, made it happen and, when it works, it works perfectly!

But, they aren’t helping us make sure the “standard” that is HDBaseT is followed.

Can you imagine someone building a laptop that’s specified to be 802.11g and, oops, didn’t hop on an 802.11b, or 802.11c network — only worked with “g” networks? No downward compatibility.

So, NO, they don’t deserve to be IEEE certified.

Until they fix their awesome standard, that is!

Note: The HDBaseT Alliance has released a white paper this month about HDBaseT interoperability, which you can download here.