HDBaseT Specs: The Honest Approach
By Andrew Edwards
At Extron our focus has always been on products. By that I mean building the right products, making them reliable and providing the technical support needed to back them up. That formula has worked for thirty years and I'm not about to change it now. I realized long ago our customers are technical. They are engineers, technicians and systems designers. A technical customer wants product information he can count on. That's why I have always insisted that our product specifications be detailed, thorough and absolutely honest.
Unfortunately, other companies don't seem to take this approach. Years ago we took a position against companies that played the "specsmanship" game by educating the industry on the -3dB point as a reference for accurately measuring the bandwidth of analog based switching products. At the time many companies would loudly proclaim their switchers possessed a bandwidth of 100 MHz, 200 MHz, 300MHz, etc. But without providing a reference point, there was no way of truly knowing the condition of the output signal or how much signal degradation had occurred when using their products. Extron educated the industry and eventually many of the other manufacturers got onboard and began to reference bandwidth to the -3dB point. Even so, companies continued to exaggerate and over-inflate their claims. I love being in a position where you can be different just by being honest!
Today, we find ourselves in a similar situation with the transition from analog to digital based video systems. A whole new group of manufacturers has emerged with promises of high performance products at bargain-basement prices or exaggerated specifications. Many of these companies use chipset manufacturer "reference designs" and drop products on the market in rapid-fire fashion without testing or qualifying them. This approach makes unexpected beta-testers out of customers. In many cases product performance does not accurately measure up to published specifications, putting systems designers at risk of over-promising and under-delivering to their end-user customers.
When we launched our DTP digital video transmission products and most recently our XTP line of digital video switching products we based our specifications on actual product performance. We provided the detail necessary for you, our customer to make an educated decision on how to design systems using our products. In early 2012 we began to train and certify systems designers on our XTP product line and I'm pleased to say there are now hundreds of Extron XTP certified design engineers in the industry. Our training, product literature and product specifications have always been detailed, conservative and accurate.
Our DTP and XTP digital product lines are built around HDBaseT chipsets from Valens Semiconductor. HDBaseT has been embraced by the professional AV industry for digital video transmission across twisted pair cabling. Extron has a close and very strong relationship with Valens Semiconductor, and we are pleased to see that Valens Semiconductor is now refining their documentation for their VS100 and VS010 chipsets by providing more detailed performance specifications. Valens Semiconductor has provided Extron a copy of their recently released whitepaper on HDBaseT installation and cabling topics. You'll notice the information from Valens lines up with what we've been saying all along. I encourage you to read it as it provides good information regarding product performance and also solid recommendations regarding cable installation best practices. If you are interested in reading the Valens HDBaseT installation and cable whitepaper contact your Extron Customer Support Representative, or if you are an Extron Insider click the button at the end of this article.
It's important to point out that our DTP and XTP digital products are much more than just a basic implementation of the Valens HDBaseT chipsets. Extron engineers have worked tirelessly for many years developing proprietary technologies that complement and enhance the Valens HDBaseT chipsets. This ensures that, with Extron, you have products you can count on and performance that exceeds what you can expect from other manufacturers. You'll also notice the Valens whitepaper points out that chipset performance depends on the twisted pair cable used and installation practices. Extron has recently introduced our new XTP DTP 24 cable that meets or exceeds the specifications from Valens for optimal performance with HDBaseT products. Valens Semiconductor is in the process of reviewing our XTP DTP 24 cable for certification and we expect this to be completed shortly.
At Extron, we've always been straight about specifying our products and I don't intend to ever change that policy. It's worked for thirty years and I'm sure it will work for the next thirty. I want to hear from you. Write me back at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew C. Edwards
President, Extron Electronics
Special note: I want to take this opportunity to inform you of the delivery of new Extron digital video products the market has been anxiously awaiting. I'm excited to announce that the IN1606 six input HDCP compliant scaling presentation switcher is now shipping. The XTP SR HDMI scaling receiver, the XTP CP 4i VGA input boards and the XTP T USW 103 three input switcher with integrated transmitter are all expected to begin shipping by early April. The demand for these products is extremely high so I encourage you to contact your Extron Customer Support Representative and place your orders without delay.