1. Systems are Grouped Around Two Predominant StandardsCompanies are grouping around two different camps based on the network speed. The first camp is offering solutions that will work on a 1 Gigabit network. Considering that the vast majority of residential network installations over the last couple of years were 1G systems, this means with some simple add-ons, they can convert their system to UHD over IP distribution.The other emerging standard is systems based on a 10 Gigabit network. These newer 10G systems are higher performance, but also higher priced. The 10G standard has little to no installed based in the residential market now – but it is already pretty big on the commercial side.2. All Use an Encode/Decode Process
All of these new system, regardless of their type, work in a similar way. They all use an encode/decode or transmit/receive system. Simply put, you place a box by the source and connect it via HDMI – and to your Ethernet network with the appropriate category cable.

Then you place another box by the display which is also connected via HDMI. The box by the source encodes or transmits the signal. The box by the display decodes or receives the signal.

The encoder takes the streaming video signal, packetizes it, transmits it over and Ethernet network and then the decoder decodes the packets back into a video signal at the display.

3. Each Type Has Strengths and Weaknesses
Each system has its strengths and weaknesses, so you must choose carefully based on the needs of your client base. Also, the type of installation may be a factor – for example, if you are in a retrofit installation and the client has an existing 1G network that is relatively robust, just by adding encode/decode boxes, you are in business. However, beware – the ability to use a single 1G system very much depends on how heavy of a video user the client is. You may have to run a separate entertainment-only network parallel  to their existing data network.

In the case of the 10G systems, they may be the ideal solution in a new installation scenario, as they are robust enough to handle both data and entertainment and thanks to a lower compression rate, they offer a better overall performance. But, they are quite expensive and a little trickier to install,

4. Beware of Too-Good-To-Be-True Claims
We have witnessed some dubious performance claims from some of the suppliers. For example, some 1G system providers claim 4K/60 4:4:4 HDR performance. But because of the high compression rates required on 1G systems, when you really question them closely, you discover they really “meant” 4K/30…or 4:2:0…or not HDR. Remember, they are trying to stuff a lot of bandwidth into a small 1G pipeline. It is doable to get 10.2G through a 1G pipeline through compression. It is much, much harder (impossible some say) to stuff an 18G signal into a 1G pipeline.

5. It’s Time to Arm Yourself With Knowledge
One thing is crystal clear, UHD over IP is here – and its time has come. And it is going to change EVERYTHING. Although the process will likely take years, they will ultimately replace proprietary matrix switching solutions.

So how do these powerhouse control companies feel about the situation? Both Crestron and Savant launched UHD over IP solutions at this ISE. As the old commercial goes, “If you can’t beat them…join them.”

TDG Audio