I thought I'd write a quick review of the Aton HDR44 (KT - "kit") system, a 4x4 matrix HD component video switcher, which uses Cat5 distribution and includes IR repeating.
Short answer - awesome product, especially at the price point compared to other solutions.
While there are several very good Cat5-based HDTV distribution systems available, I chose the Aton for a couple of reasons:
1) Single-gang, in-wall receivers for each (remote) zone
3) IR remote repeating built-in, with source routing and local repeating
4) Expandable to 8 zones for a 4x8 matrix system
Quickly, for anyone still reading that are unfamiliar with the basics of this type of product, the Aton HDR44 is a 4 input, 4 output matrix switcher that supports up to 1080p on component video with both analog and (coax) digital audio. The 4 output "zones" are fed by 2 Cat5 cables per zone, which can travel up to 500 feet to a single-gang receiving wall plate. At the wall plate, connections are available for component video, analog and digital audio, as well as an IR input for the included IR receiver and an IR output jack for local repeating.
As with any product correctly calling itself a 'matrix' switch, the Aton HDR44 allows each of the 4 zones to watch any one of the 4 sources, in any combination (all watch the same, all watch a different source, etc.).
Set up of the product is very straightforward (once you have the requisite Cat5 cables in the walls!) - with clearly labeled jacks on the back of the 1U high unit for each source and zone output. Simply connect each source's component video, RCA audio and coax digital audio to the unit, and plug the dual Cat5 cables for each output.
Of note here is the source-specific (1-4) IR repeater ouptuts (and the "all zones" broadcast output). that allow you to connect several identical source components without running into conflicts with the remote control. Without this feature (not unique to the Aton, but still an excellent implementation), conflicts arise when two (or more) identical components receive IR commands intended for only one. Real world example - in my case I have 3 DirecTV receivers that all share the same remote codes - if the IR signal was just 'broadcast', anyone changing a channel in one room would change the channel on 3 different receivers! [yes, DirecTV receivers have alternate remote codes to alieviate this issue - but the source routing makes it easy to solve this problem and simplified remote control macros/learning] But with the routing feature, the IR remote signal received from a particular zone is repeated *only* to the source component currently selected for that zone. Aton not only includes a set of IR repeaters for this task, but even includes nice black plastic sheilds to ensure the repeaters don't 'leak' signals to adjacent components.
Video and audio performance, from my brief testing so far, is excellent. My runs are ~75 feet of Cat5 (monoprice!) cable from the central closet location that houses the equipment. I have not adjusted the gain on the wall plates, but would still have great difficulty in detecting any quality difference between the DirecTV HD recever being fed as an Aton Cat5 source and an identical unit directly connected to my 61" Samsung LED DLP via HDMI.
The other feature to note here is the local IR repeating function - each wall plate has both an IR in (for the included IR receiver - which is comparable to a Xantech Dinky Link in size, but with a blue talk-back LED) and a local IR output. The IR ouput jack allows you to attach an emitter to repeat the IR signals received by the Aton receiver. I've effectively used this as a "Hidden Link" local repeater for the audio equipment located in a cabinet below the main TV. Just a nice integration feature that saved me both time and money...
This is the first 'real' product review I've written for AVSForum, so instead of just rambling on - if anyone has questions, I'll be happy to answer based on my experience.
On price - I won't post pricing information (I believe MSRP is $1795 for the kit), but Google is your friend. Make sure when pricing or ordering that you get the "KT" (kit) version (part # HDR44KT), which includes 4 wall plates making it a complete system in one box.
UPDATE (Dec 2010): I have since expanded my system using a second HDR44 that results in a 4x8 matrix. Still a great system 18 months later...