I was a die-hard component video guy, but HDMI is rapidly becoming unavoidable thanks to the content-producer fetish for copy protection (despite the fact that it has never prevented copying, but I digress). I recently started the painful switch to HDMI over CATx cable and the results have been fairly miserable so far. I run a single source from an AV closet distributed to 8 locations. The shortest
run is about 30 feet, so right off the bat you know we're in for a good time. I have a couple audio-only runs but the longest video run is somewhere in the vicinity of 140 feet.
I'm switching my office and parking lot to a bunch of high-def IP cameras, and the guy I hired to pull wire suggested this bulk CAT 6E STP
wire from eBay. I was skeptical but now that I have a couple spools in-hand, the quality seems good, the jacket is very pliable and it seems like good-quality wiring at a decent price. I am also using these pass-through connectors
which are fairly high-quality.
We needed about 1600 ft of cable for the office cameras, so I plan to use the remaining cable at home to start replacing the cheap, stiff, thin-jacketed CAT5 junk my low-volt guys put in the walls when the house was built almost 10 years ago, and if those replacements work, I'll be picking up a few more spools for quality-time in the attics come this winter.
In terms of equipment, I am starting with the Monoprice 8x1 HDMI switch
pushing thru a 1x8 Monoprice splitter/balun
setup to the included output baluns. Results have been usable but mediocre so far, but as I noted, my in-wall wiring is junk. I am using pre-made Monoprice CAT6 UTP for the final wall-to-balun connections and surprisingly that is often enough to overcome signal problems up to 720p (when I experiment with CAT5 wall-to-balun), though 1080i at any speed stumbles often, and 1080p is nearly non-functional.
My pool area and garage have stereo audio only (for now, the garage is an even longer run!), so I'm using this HDMI audio splitter
to run stereo audio over a separate distribution amp and some old ETS-LAN CAT5 composite/stereo baluns I've had forever. The splitter is pass-through and surprisingly, HDMI output quality and reliability seems to noticeably improve
when the switch feeds through this device to the splitter/balun.
At night, I fantasize about reliable, affordable, high-speed one-to-many wireless HDMI transmitters...