I'm exploring HD-BaseT extender options for the house that I'm building, and I think I've found some good solutions for the video side, but I still haven't found the ideal solution for the IR coming into the equipment closet from all those extenders. Since the IR outputs from the extenders will be modulated, it seems like I need to accomplish one of two things:
1. Combine all of the modulated signals to an IR blaster that can flood the equipment closet.
2. Combine all of the modulated signals and redistribute them to a bunch of emitter eyes.
To achieve option 1, I could probably use a Xantech CB18 "strip" connecting block to splice everything to a blaster, or use a project box from Radio Shack with an IR eye and a bunch of emitters to demodulate/remodulate and combine everything. Neither solution is very elegant, though, and I'm concerned that I wouldn't be able to get enough output power to really drive a blaster.
Option 2 would be cleaner, but that only works if something like the Xantech 79144 connecting block can handle modulated singles on the input, which I'm not sure is the case.
I've looked at the integrated matrix switches, but there are two issues. The first is that I need one of the outputs to go to a pre/pro for the home theater first, with that pre/pro output in turn needing its own extender. An 8x8 matrix with only HDBaseT outputs results in wasted extenders, since one output would travel all of six feet to the pre/pro and then I would need an additional extender from there. That issue would be reduced somewhat with a matrix that has simultaneous HDMI and HDBaseT outputs, or at least a "bonus" HDMI monitor output, but the only cost effective units that I have found with that option are from ShinyBow. The problem there is that ShinyBow's HDBaseT receivers have hardwired IR eyes, which won't work very well when the receiver is in the wall or behind the TV.
The other issue is the cost of integrated HDBaseT. I'll use approximate street prices for Gefen equipment as an example.
I'd really like 6 or 7 sources - 3 or 4 Tivos (or Tivo Minis), a couple of Blu-Ray players, and my HTPC. Something like the Octava 4x8 would do the trick if I scale back - keep it to three Tivos, relegate the HTPC just to the home theater, and cut back to just one distributed Blu-Ray player. My wife doesn't want boxes all over the house, so I'd still want that one disc player in the closet, but I guess one will be enough since the theater can have its own dedicated unit.
I suppose it may come down to a reality check of what I'm really going to watch outside of the theater, and the price per source to have all devices distribute throughout the house - if I add a box to get Vudu in the theater for 3D rentals, do I really need it in the bedroom? Maybe not. After all, my wife doesn't really care about most of it, and things should be cheaper in a few years once the kid is old enough to want all the toys in his room too.