HDBaseT tech carries HD video, audio and internet over Ethernet


Valens’ HDBaseTTM extends current digital connectivity technologies with first ever full HD multimedia content and Ethernet via a single 100m/328ft LAN cable

Valens Semiconductor, a fabless semiconductor company, announced today that it will demonstrate the first ever convergence and high quality transmission of uncompressed high-definition (HD) video, audio and Internet via a single LAN cable, creating a seamless end-to-end entertainment and networking experience in the home environment.

At the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), taking place January 8 – 11 in Las Vegas, Valens will introduce its HDBaseT™ technology in South Hall 2, Booth 27006. Valens is working towards creating HDBaseT as the new digital connectivity standard for HD multimedia distribution by overcoming the limitations of current wired and wireless technologies, while ensuring content rights for Hollywood studios and other content providers.

Valens’ VS100SK (receiver) and VS100SR (transmitter) ICs, the first to implement HDBaseT, will be commercially available during the second half of 2009. A source side implementation, VS100SR is designed for use inside Blu-ray DVD players, set-top boxes (STBs) and other HD source equipment. A sink side implementation, VS100SK is designed for use inside HDTVs, projectors and other display equipment.

With the growth of the HD market, consumers are looking for a way to connect TVs and other display equipment with entertainment devices, such as a Blu-ray DVD player, for in-home converged distribution of HD multimedia content. This demand to access and easily distribute HD content to any device at any time has caused consumer electronics manufacturers and content providers to push the limits of existing wired connectivity technologies, such as HDMI, MOCA and HomePlug, and emerging wireless technologies, including 802.11n, WHDI and WirelessHD.

While some existing technologies are limited in terms of bandwidth and cannot support uncompressed video, others are limited in terms of distance, reliability, flexibility, overall system cost and cost of installation – all pressure points for the end user. The demand for in-home converged distribution of HD multimedia content and the lack of adequate existing technologies are driving the industry towards a HD digital connectivity standard that increases distance of data transfer, expands distribution, extends the range, simplifies installations and lowers overall system cost.

Valens’ HDBaseT technology is optimized for video application and can connect all the entertainment devices at home by providing the 5PlayTM convergence of 8Gbps of uncompressed full HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, power over cable and various control signals. HDBaseT overcomes the limitations of HDMI and other current technologies as the first technology to enable long-reach wired connectivity of uncompressed HD multimedia content via up to 100m/328ft low-cost single standard Cat-5e/6 cable. This enables both point-to-point connectivity and full multimedia distribution with higher reliability, longer distance and lower cost cable, while supporting all existing and future content protection schemes.

“The market for HD content continues to grow and evolve as the end user increases content consumption. But today, connectivity and distribution of video, audio and Internet in the home entertainment environment are inconsistent,” said Dror Jerushalmi, CEO, Valens Semiconductor. “HDBaseT is revolutionizing the multimedia distribution of uncompressed HD multimedia content via a single LAN cable. There is no technology on the market today that is better positioned to be the future HD digital connectivity standard than HDBaseT.”

In addition, Valens’ HDBaseT technology offers a combination of media distribution and content protection that provides studios and CE manufacturers with a high level of content security and high quality transmission of uncompressed HD video, audio and data in a home environment.


Wii’s largest gamers are Female


Nintendo’s been doing a bit of digging and it turns out it’s already won the console wars. If we’re only talking about the ladies, that is. A whopping 80% of American female primary gamers (the person who primarily uses the console rather than the occasional dabblers) do their thing on the Wii, which we see as a clear indication to the graphics-obsessed Xbox 360 and PS3 developers that women prefer their games to be fun to play, rather than just look at. Maybe if we also stopped dressing female characters in swimsuits, they’d find non-Wii games relatable too — that’s just a guess though, probably wrong.


Facebook for PlayStation 3 ‘begins’


Okay, pretend to be surprised if you want, but Facebook and PlayStation 3 are coming together, sort of. We saw the tiniest bit of teaser last week via leaked photo, and now we’ve got details and a release date. Users will have the option of sending status updates for PSN purchases and Trophies whenever the user syncs up the account to the PlayStation servers, and developers can now integrate automatic updates when certain game events occur, similar to what we saw with the recent Uncharted sequel. Unfortunately, some of the very basic functions you’d come to expect from Facebook apps, such as writing your own status updates, aren’t there yet. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more integration sooner rather than later, as the company’s noting this is just the beginning of the integration with the social network. Integration hits with firmware 3.10, which as we heard from a previous Sony Poland leak is this Thursday, just one day after Xbox Live’s Facebook integration debuts (how very convenient, indeed). Also in the update? New photo navigation and PSN gamer card options. Video after the break.


Getting the best audio from PS3, without HDMI

Once you’ve actually decided what hardware to purchase, avoided the perilous purchasing decisions involved in finding cables, but actually setting it up can trip up the newbies among us. Suck is our friend David’s problem, trying to figure out if lossless audio is a possibility for his HDMI-less receiver:

“I read your article and I would like further advice. I have the brand new PS3, which I’m going to use with a 1080p Sony Bravia – the video is fine..HDMI to the tv. The problem is that I have an ONKYO THX 7.1 system (really 5.1), and there is no HDMI, so I plan on using an optical audio cable from the PS3 into the receiver. How do i get the best sound? Will the PS3 decode the trueHD (or whatever it is) and send the full spectrum of sound across the optical to the receiver? Will NOT having the HDMI to the receiver affect my sound, or will the PS3 internal decoding send a perfect lossless sound to my non-HDMI receiver?”

Just in case our HD 101 explanation wasn’t enough (First off, S/PDIF transmission — over either optical TOSLINK or coax — does not have the bandwidth to carry Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA signals. If you connect your Blu-ray player to your receiver with optical or coax, the audio will “fall back” to Dolby Digital, DTS or two-channel PCM — lossless, but only two channels,) any tips on how David can get the highest audio quality possible out of the equipment he has? Of course, if you think replacing one of the components is a better choice, that’s always an option as well.


3D may fall flat

entelligence3dhdThe big theme that stood out for me last week at IFA was the idea of 3D driving sales of new TVs. Both Sony and Panasonic made strong plays for 3D at their press conferences, although Sony did a much better job, giving the audience 3D glasses and showing the trailer for “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” along with footage of FIFA Soccer and Gran Turismo running on the PS3 — the cockpit view in GT was particularly impressive. Panasonic’s presentation was a little odder, with the audience being asked to “imagine” what 3D would look like during a slideshow of still images of various events like boxing matches. It was kind of like introducing color TV by showing off a black and white screen and asking the audience to imagine it in color.

I understand the need to drive new sales of TV sets and find some sort of purchase driver. Let’s face it. Screens have gotten large enough, perhaps even too large — if I offered you a 150-inch TV, where would you put it? Resolutions have maxed out and it’s hard to make sets much thinner. OLED displays could be a great purchase driver but are a few years off. So something new needs to drive the market. I’m just not convinced that 3D will really help move things forward.

The problem is there’s a huge difficulty involved in launching new formats, especially one like 3D. We’ve seen this time and again. First, you need broad hardware support, and 3D doesn’t have it. Sony and Panasonic are taking two different approaches to the 3D market, meaning they’ll both be selling incompatible equipment at high price points — yep, another format war is brewing, and consumers just love when that happens. It’s one reason why vendors like Philips are staying out of 3D for the time being.

Second, you need deep content support. At the moment, there’s far more content available on good old HD than there will be in either 3D format and that’s not going to change very fast. Unless you’re a really big fan of a particular title that’s available in 3D, you’re likely to sit this out for a while.

The best content in 3D just doesn’t offer that much more relative to standard HD, especially on smaller screens

Third, you need a clear and visible consumer value proposition. CDs and DVDs both offered obvious value propositions to consumers. There was a noticeable difference in the experience that was easily grasped, and both were marked by moving from an analog tape format to optical disk, which was more reliable and offered novel features such as random access to content. What’s more, both offered clear quality improvements over what had come before — except to my six friends who still swear by their vinyl LPs and tube amps [and your editor! -- ed.], the upgrade in quality was far more than just noticeable. But when I look at the best content on 3D it just doesn’t offer that much more relative to standard HD, especially on smaller screens in regular homes. On top of that, 3D in movie theaters is still mostly a gimmick, and the content that we’ve seen to date doesn’t quite have a compelling feel to it.

With cheap HDTVs and plenty of HD content, the savvy consumer who holds off on a 3D purchase is clearly going to be the winner in 2010 — and consumers who’ve already invested in HD screens over the last few years are not likely to upgrade. In the long run, there may be no winner. The last time two formats fought a battle like this over incremental quality was in the audio arena, when it was SACD against DVD-Audio, and both sides lost to the convenience of less-than-CD-quality MP3s and the iPod. In this case, while we wait for large OLED screens to come to market, these efforts in 3D may just fall flat.


Add a Mouse and Keyboard to Your Xbox 360 or PS3

Although up until now they have been more or less just niche products, designed to be used solely in certain specific situations, the popularity of KVM switches might actually increase in the future, due to IOGEAR’s innovations in this field. Thus, at this year’s CES, the company, a traditional manufacturer of various connectivity solutions and adapters, launched a brand new series of switches, which, besides all of the features we’ve already grown accustomed to, provide HDMI 1.3b and HDCP support.
Besides the HDMI interface mentioned above, the new 2- and 4-Port HDMI KVM Switches support video resolutions of up to 1080p (full HD), as well as Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio, which makes them especially suitable to be used with gaming consoles (allowing gamers, for example, to easily add keyboard and mouse functionality to their video gaming consoles, which, in essence, are nothing more than computing systems).
Furthermore, the fresh switches also feature IOGEAR’s Display Emulation Technology that memorizes a certain display’s parameters in order to preserve video resolution when switching between PCs, as well as two USB 2.0 ports for adding various peripherals.
Aside from the two gaming-oriented products mentioned above, IOGEAR also introduced the 4-Port DualView Dual-Link DVI KVMP Switch, a device meant for graphic designers. The switch allows graphic designers to easily work from DualView displays, while viewing pictures in resolutions even above 1080p, and can prove equally beneficial for special effects artists.
The fact that these products might actually represent a serious step forward for the field of KVM switches is also confirmed by Miranda Su, executive vice president at IOGEAR, who declared that “IOGEAR was founded on our revolutionary KVM technology and we continue to expand this product line to meet the needs of all types of consumers. These products’ innovative features allow gamers and graphic artists to create seamless, multi-computer workstations that support the best resolutions and highest-quality audio.”