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post #1 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Question Construction Wiring Help

First I will apologize if there is a sticky for this and if so please point me to it. As I searched I found fragmented areas of information.

I am building a new home and we are now in the stage that I have to bid out for wiring. I have been working on a detailed tech plan which of course includes Automation, Security, Video, Audio, Network, etc. So I need you help as I finalize my bid. Do the
I plan to hire a professional to do the work based on the overall requirements RFP doc I am putting together. See attached.

A few things about the home. It is a 4300 sqft modern style house which I plan to control via automation, haven’t decided on which system yet but I want to wire for the future as well.
• Media Closet - We will have a media rack where all (most) devices will be located and we will have all wires come into the central point.
• Audio Zones – 12 (Assumption is we will use Sonons maybe integrated through Control4, on its own, or through something else)
• Video – We have Verizon Fios and I plan to get their Quantum system but assume we will still use a HDbaseT system to control devices and push video.
• Shades – we will have some shade controlled (not sure on brand yet Lutron,Somfy) but I want to wire to all windows for future proof.
• Security – Current home I have HAI Omni II and I am considering moving it over. I also have Smart Things but I recognize it is not as robust or as hidden.
• Media Room – We do have a Media/Home Theater room that we plan to use with a projector etc but will also be a kids play room. This will not look like a dedicated theater but will have a projector, at least 7.1 etc.

So on the wiring I need to know the following:
• For the video runs what do I run through the house at each video spot? Cat6? How many? What else to each video spot? When you consider HDbaseT solution. Do I need to run RG wire? If so thoughts?
• For area with Audio what do I run? If I plan to use Sonos so I run anything? When I am mounting speakers what gauge and type of wire do I ask for?
• Should I run Fiber anywhere? I have Fiber to the house with Fios but nothing inside. Should I run it to the media closet and office or is this really just a waste now?
• Shades – what should I assume to each of these? I assume low voltage and do they need a Cat wire or wireless?


Any other thoughts and considerations would be great. Any help would be great. Thanks!
BTW the plan is to include conduit as well for future use since as a modern home there is no attic.
Stuart
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post #2 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 09:59 AM
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Sonos is a awesome product, but I wouldn't use it as the backbone for whole house audio distribution, when you also have a video distribution system that is a part of it. Instead, I would leverage Sonos as a source which is available to the whole house distribution system.

There are many choices for audio/video at the head end, but in terms of use, it is the wiring that matters most.

Certainly pulling a RG6 to all TVs is not a bad thing. But, it is not likely a cable you will ever use. If you do have any room without connection to the head-end (central equipment location), then you will be kicking yourself for not at least having a cable jack on the wall (or available somewhere).

I would recommend coax to each room, not behind the TV, perhaps just buried in a wall, for possible use, if needed.
Run one cat-5e or 6 cable to each TV and for HDBT use Cat-6STP cabling. This is the gold standard for HDBT, and is recommended for 4K content over HDBT. Run these two wires, at a minimum, to every TV location. The extra wire is a spare, and there is an amazing number of 'spare' wires which are nice to have around.
Consider local room sources which may require connection to the system. Run Cat-6STP to those locations with a spare cat-5e/6 as well. A local HDMI port in the family room to hook up some video gaming, or in the theater is a really nice addition.
If distances are 50' or less, then perhaps just run a HDMI cable and conduit to the display. A quality HDMI cable is half the price of entry level HDBT, and far less than higher end HDBT. So, this can really save you some money, while not hurting your image quality at all.
For shades, I have just run cat-5e cable. I've powered the shades and put in control of them using just one cat-5e cable. I think shades manufacturers are woefully behind on good automation integration. You will want to speak to a few shades companies before moving to far along to see what they recommend for shades and emphasize integratable control of them. Potentially, you may just be able to use a iOS or Android app to control them and setup a schedule. But some shades are looking for 120v to provide power.
For speakers, 14 gauge wiring is my recommendation for whole-house audio.
Since some TV zones will also have good in-wall/ceiling speakers, the TV audio should go through those speakers as well. That's why Sonos won't be the only source for whole house audio. The Blu-ray, and cable tuners, game systems, computers, etc. may also want to leverage the quality speaker that you are putting in place.
There must (IMO) be a point of control in each room that has speakers or video in it. Whether it be a handheld remote, or a 12 button keypad on the wall, it's very important to get cat-5e wiring to potential locations for control so they are there when you want it.
Finally, I always recommend a good wired Ethernet home. This gives you a solid connection to the Internet without worrying all the time about signal integrity with wireless Ethernet. While Wi-fi often works perfectly well, it also doesn't always do so and that hard-wired connection can be very helpful.

Automation is such a silly word I think. I think integration when I think of automation, most companies just think of 'control on your phone' as automation. So, be aware that a lot of automation may not be as expected and should not be assumed.

All of this said, I think the prewire is the most important part of everything. Door locks, garage doors, sprinkler systems, lights, HVAC, etc. may all benefit from having a local wire available to it. So, sitting down and talking to someone about the long-term goals and potential goals, may help with this very first part, which is getting the wiring right. Spending several thousand dollars on this (or more) should be expected.

AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology installation in the Washington DC metro area.
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post #3 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 11:48 AM
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I second the shielded CAT6 for the HDBase-T distribution, it is a bit more expensive but worth every penny when it comes to eliminating potential electrical interference; I would recommend running 2-4 to each location for flexibility and in case one gets damaged during construction, it happens a lot, but if you're running conduit it may not be an issue. I also would recommend planning CAT6 drops for keypads or touchpanels, the keypads are great for event programming and simple control, the touchpanels are an excellent solution for controlling whole home audio.

-You mentioned using the TV apps and having them play through the in-room speakers. Why not use a dedicated device like a blu-ray player for those that is located in the central rack? If it is a matter of multiple people streaming at the same time, you will need to plan for sending that audio from the TVs optical or analog output back to the rack and your distribution amplifier/switch. In this scenario I typically use an analog audio balun or optical to analog converter to an analog balun and send it over CAT6 back to the rack. It may be cheaper/easier to just put a few streaming devices in the rack as HDBase-T, to my knowledge, does not support ARC. This also becomes an issue with gaming systems when you might want them to be local to the room. The PS3 and Xbox360 both have pretty good wireless range with their controllers (I have used them up to 50ft away in a rack with no issues), the PS4 and XboxOne have horrible range. I have all four in a rack upstairs and while the PS3 and 360 work perfect downstairs, the PS4 ad XBone have connection dropouts.

-I have had good luck with the Sonos Connect(ZP-90) as an audio source fed into an audio switch for distribution. It allows you all the flexibility of the streaming services that Sonos offers and has multiple outputs that can be connected to the audio switch and A/V receivers at the same time. I also know that Control4, through ExtraVegetables, has a driver to integrate and control the device including an on screen interface that is really nice and provides all the function of the Sonos app. The Control4 driver will also integrate the Zone players if you have them, but I would not recommend using Sonos as a whole home audio distribution system, a dedicated switch/amp works best.

-Do you have any plans for wireless access points? I agree that a wired home is preferred and a best practice, but is not practical for all devices. In a home that large (and depending on construction materials) you will have coverage issues. You may want to plan a few CAT6 drops for those in a couple strategic locations, probably one upstairs and one down. I have had good success with Luxul access points, their XAP-1030 is omni-directional and has a very powerful antenna and great speeds on the edge of coverage, an area where most access points struggle.

-Lutron makes a decent battery powered shade and it integrates into their lighting systems well. Lutron Homeworks and RadioRa2 integrate very well into home automation systems. The Somfy shades are very nice also. Both options are very quiet as they are low voltage or battery powered. High voltage motors can be very noisy.

-As far as fiber goes, unless you will have CAT6 runs that exceed ~300ft, I would not worry about it. It doesn't gain you any advantage as far as data speeds go unless you are planning a 10Gb network in your home, which CAT6 would handle but only to about 30m.

-For security, if it is to be integrated to the automation solution, I would run a CAT6 to the main panel as well for RS-232 or ethernet control. If it is RS-232 and it is more than 50ft from your automation controller, put the RS-232 control module in your rack and extend the security bus over the CAT6 back to the security panel. RS-232 has a distance limitation, but the security bus can usually go much further. You did not mention security cameras, but I would run CAT6 for those as well, they can be powered over the CAT6 so only one wire needed. ICRealtime and Axis make high quality cameras up to 3MP in resolution, you can clearly read license plates with these.

One final thought, do not go cheap on the networking gear and do not use the ISP provided router, put a more powerful one between it and the rest of the system. All these systems have become network-centric and put out far more data than a residential grade router/switch can handle in many cases. I would avoid Netgear and Linksys products, Cisco Business and Luxul make some nice products without being crazy expensive. Depending on how much equipment will be installed, it may be beneficial to opt for a switch with VLAN capabilites to split/segment some of the traffic and QoS to optimize your bandwidth, but with fios quantum the QoS may not be an issue.

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post #4 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great responses. I am incorporating the points into my overall plan which I will post here and use with my planing meetings with the potential vendors. Amazing feedback and just what I was looking for.
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post #5 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 08:22 AM
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You're welcome, I'm glad we could help. One other thing that I missed was HVAC control, most automation systems will have their own HVAC control modules, Lutron also integrates this into Homeworks and RadioRa2. Control4 is the only company I am aware of at this time that has planned (and been approved for) the integration of the Nest thermostats in a software release this year. If you decide to go with Control4, I would check out www.extravegetables.com, they make drivers for an array of equipment to integrate with Control4 and they are a very reputable vendor in the industry with great support for their products. I hope everything goes well for you, keep us in the loop and feel free to ask questions.
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post #6 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 10:17 AM
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Another way of looking at this is that no matter what you install now, in a few years you'll want something else. It wasn't that long ago that power and telephone wires were enough. Then TV (first twin lead, then RG-59, now RG-6). Then Ethernet (recently Cat 5, 5e and 6 but there are higher categories you may need later). Now HDMI, and they keep changing the version you need and sometimes that requires a cable upgrade. What's next? I'd like to see a switch to fiber for long runs of everything but power, but that won't happen soon. Sure, run the cables you think you'll need now, but give some thought to making it easy to run more cables in the future. Maybe removable baseboards and vertical panels and/or large-diameter plastic pipes in the walls, with pull cords. A false floor might be a bit much for a home but false ceilings are common. The point is, make it easy to adapt to whatever new connection scheme comes along next year, next decade or next century.
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post #7 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 10:42 AM
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The CAT7 and CAT8 specs are really data center usage only, they have severe distance limitations and will be cost prohibitive for the forseeable future and fiber is already being used for video on runs of greater than 100m in the HDBase-T spec. Plus HDBase-T provides power over cable to the receiver and eliminates the need to run/replace HDMI cables; at some point fiber may be needed if the bandwidth demands increase. I agree flexibilty is key, but the need for more than CAT6 at this point is unjustified unless someone is planning an astoundingly expensive 10Gb home network.
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post #8 of 18 Old 07-04-2014, 07:38 AM
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If I were building a house today, I would install a conduit system and call it a day. 1 1/4" inner duct generously installed everywhere.
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post #9 of 18 Old 07-07-2014, 06:16 AM
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If you run Cat-6 STP, be sure to properly ground the cable.

Conduit would be good as well.

I just finished pre-wiring my house, and went 2x2 RG6/Cat-6 to every room, then followed up with runs of Cat-6 in various locations. Hardest part of pre-wiring any house is thinking about locations of equipment (TV's, PC's, etc.) and potential changes to those locations in the future (Am I going to move the bed and TV location?)
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post #10 of 18 Old 07-08-2014, 10:18 AM
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I'll add a few items I missed from my recent new construction.


1. Alarm System - Almost all security devices are wireless.......except the speaker. I should have had that wire pre-wired, though I did luck out and the install tech did a great job.

2. Power - IMO, I now realize that more power outlets and especially more dedicated circuits are better. I thought I had enough but I was wrong. Example, They put two bedrooms, the 2nd FL hall, and a bathroom on the same 15 amp circuit. Since the bathroom requires GFI and I had UPS equipment plugged in my office, it kept tripping. Ended up disabling the GFI. Lesson learned, make sure you understand each circuit and what outlets plug into it.

3. Power Again - On those dedicated 20 amp circuits, especially for the media center. I should have gone with 4 outlet wall plates. I ended up changing them out but it would have saved me time.

4. Home Theater - I didn't put a lot of thought on power distribution for devices like the projector. I have a dedicated 20 amp for it but what about UPS protection? In hindsight, I could have had all media power outlets such as projector, subwoofer, etc home run back to the media closet into a PDU that was backed up with a UPS. All of which would have been on one or more 20 amps.

5. Home Theater again - I am going HDBaseT, I had all the runs done but the thing is HDBaseT is expensive at least for me, so I am deploying it slowly over time. Anything above a 4x2 switch is typically around $1500+. I could have made my life much easier by just having the critical day 1 TVs/Projector have an HDMI run in addition to the CAT5E runs. I know all the caveats but who cares when your doing it short term and the cable is less than $50 bucks.
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post #11 of 18 Old 07-08-2014, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taskman View Post
2. Power - IMO, I now realize that more power outlets and especially more dedicated circuits are better. I thought I had enough but I was wrong. Example, They put two bedrooms, the 2nd FL hall, and a bathroom on the same 15 amp circuit. Since the bathroom requires GFI and I had UPS equipment plugged in my office, it kept tripping. Ended up disabling the GFI. Lesson learned, make sure you understand each circuit and what outlets plug into it.
You disabled the GFI in a circuit feeding a bathroom? Bad idea. REALLY bad idea. Possibly a fatally bad idea.
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post #12 of 18 Old 07-08-2014, 03:55 PM
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You disabled the GFI in a circuit feeding a bathroom? Bad idea. REALLY bad idea. Possibly a fatally bad idea.
I know, it is just short term as the breaker was flipping constantly. I'm going to be rerouting the office over to a dedicated 20 amp soon. Assuming I survive until then.
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post #13 of 18 Old 07-08-2014, 10:58 PM
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I'm keenly interested in what you ended up doing regarding your HDbaseT setup. I have 3 tvs setup upstairs with 2 Cat6 and 1 coax, and I would like to run HDMI to each of them over cat6, with a switch similar to you 4x2 switch option, that hopefully has IR control built in... i would need to convert 1 cat6 or coax to IR... any suggestions?

For my theatre room I ran 2" conduit and intend to run a higher end hdmi cable direct to projector.

How do you intend to control your home audio zones? Or the hdbaset switch without relying on IR. I am thinking a higher end RF universal remote, but i have no idea how to tie in each source which are all IR to the RF remotes.

Good call on the power... i should make sure I have a separate breaker for the media closet that has 2 double power boxes as you've noted.
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post #14 of 18 Old 07-09-2014, 05:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leafrider View Post
I'm keenly interested in what you ended up doing regarding your HDbaseT setup. I have 3 tvs setup upstairs with 2 Cat6 and 1 coax, and I would like to run HDMI to each of them over cat6, with a switch similar to you 4x2 switch option, that hopefully has IR control built in... i would need to convert 1 cat6 or coax to IR... any suggestions?

For my theatre room I ran 2" conduit and intend to run a higher end hdmi cable direct to projector.

How do you intend to control your home audio zones? Or the hdbaset switch without relying on IR. I am thinking a higher end RF universal remote, but i have no idea how to tie in each source which are all IR to the RF remotes.

Good call on the power... i should make sure I have a separate breaker for the media closet that has 2 double power boxes as you've noted.
I would assume since he has mentioned automation and Control4 as an option that the switch would be controlled via RS232 or ethernet. I have not seen an HDMI switch without IR control so you should be safe with a good RF remote system and if its not in their database you should be able to learn the codes from the remote. As far as the IR control of everything else, if the switch has built-in IR pass-through you can get HDBase-T receivers that have an IR output so you can save the cat6 or coax for something else.
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post #15 of 18 Old 07-09-2014, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leafrider View Post
I'm keenly interested in what you ended up doing regarding your HDbaseT setup. I have 3 tvs setup upstairs with 2 Cat6 and 1 coax, and I would like to run HDMI to each of them over cat6, with a switch similar to you 4x2 switch option, that hopefully has IR control built in... i would need to convert 1 cat6 or coax to IR... any suggestions?

For my theatre room I ran 2" conduit and intend to run a higher end hdmi cable direct to projector.

How do you intend to control your home audio zones? Or the hdbaset switch without relying on IR. I am thinking a higher end RF universal remote, but i have no idea how to tie in each source which are all IR to the RF remotes.

Good call on the power... i should make sure I have a separate breaker for the media closet that has 2 double power boxes as you've noted.
Sure thing, glad to share the info. I have the Monoprice 4x2 HDBaseT switch, which is an evil mistress. Because to make it cheap only one of the outputs are HDBaseT. The other port is merely HDMI. I current use the HDBaseT port to get to my living room on the 1st FL and the HDMI goes to the projector. I had a service line run from where the utility lines come in right to my server room closet (Side note, have at least two Coax runs to your media closet from outside which is what I did. Comcast for instance can do something like 4 or 5 boxes per wire with Internet but they max out after that) I keep two Comcast boxes in there currently and can send any number of devices to my TV or projector. Since HDBaseT handles IR, I have no problems with the TV in the living room. For the projector, I fall back to an old standby because RF remotes are expensive.

Imagine doing multiple RF remotes to cover all your rooms? No thanks, I'll do that when I have more cash. In the mean time I use IR repeaters, I used to work at Radioshack a long time ago and they sold the best. Obviously X10 is not radioshack but at least they are clones, you want the X10 Powermid PM5900 which are $40 on Amazon. They are not as slick as having the IR receiver attached just below the television but you don't have to buy special remotes either. Also, the blaster on the other end does a GREAT job. In my apartment I had it hanging in a closet from the clothes rack and it had no problem blasting my whole theater cabinet.

One last Comcast tip, I don''t know how much of a secret this is but I just found out from the install tech that Comcast has all their remotes built with RF. It just isn't turned on because it would confuse most customers, just ask the tech and he will give you the code sequence (Cant find it at the moment). That is if you get Comcast.
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post #16 of 18 Old 08-29-2014, 03:29 PM
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Sure thing, glad to share the info. I have the Monoprice 4x2 HDBaseT switch, which is an evil mistress. Because to make it cheap only one of the outputs are HDBaseT. The other port is merely HDMI. I current use the HDBaseT port to get to my living room on the 1st FL and the HDMI goes to the projector. I had a service line run from where the utility lines come in right to my server room closet (Side note, have at least two Coax runs to your media closet from outside which is what I did. Comcast for instance can do something like 4 or 5 boxes per wire with Internet but they max out after that) I keep two Comcast boxes in there currently and can send any number of devices to my TV or projector. Since HDBaseT handles IR, I have no problems with the TV in the living room. For the projector, I fall back to an old standby because RF remotes are expensive.

Imagine doing multiple RF remotes to cover all your rooms? No thanks, I'll do that when I have more cash. In the mean time I use IR repeaters, I used to work at Radioshack a long time ago and they sold the best. Obviously X10 is not radioshack but at least they are clones, you want the X10 Powermid PM5900 which are $40 on Amazon. They are not as slick as having the IR receiver attached just below the television but you don't have to buy special remotes either. Also, the blaster on the other end does a GREAT job. In my apartment I had it hanging in a closet from the clothes rack and it had no problem blasting my whole theater cabinet.

One last Comcast tip, I don''t know how much of a secret this is but I just found out from the install tech that Comcast has all their remotes built with RF. It just isn't turned on because it would confuse most customers, just ask the tech and he will give you the code sequence (Cant find it at the moment). That is if you get Comcast.

Thanks for the feedback fellas. I`m still a little concerned about this HDMI Matrix switch for moving HD Video over CAT6. I`ve talked to some smart people lately and they all say `don`t buy the cheap ones`. I`ve read and heard that the Monoprice ones are problematic, and most just stop working after awhile. This isn`t something that interests me. I would prefer to find a 4x4 matrix for CAT6 that comes with receivers for around $1000. Why does this seem like it`s too much to ask. This technology seem rare and and as the other guy noted (an evil mistress) like affair.

If you can push HDMI over CAT6, I assume we`re talking HDMI 1.4 (at best) and not the HDMI 2.0 (4k) that`s on the horizon (not that any of my TV`s currently handle 4k). I guess all I can do is pick one up and hope it works, if it doesn`t burn the $500 and go spend $1000, if that doesn`t work burn the $1000 and go spend $2000... I`m sure the wife is gonna flip!

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post #17 of 18 Old 08-29-2014, 03:33 PM
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Waiting for HDBaseT 2.0

I am waiting for new products with the updated HDBaseT 2.0 chips that were introduced this spring. I hope that products will be introduced at this year's CEDIA. It supposedly will offer more capability with less expensive switches, hopefully making products cheaper. At least I hope so.

- Phil

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post #18 of 18 Old 08-30-2014, 12:44 PM
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Thanks for the feedback fellas. I`m still a little concerned about this HDMI Matrix switch for moving HD Video over CAT6. I`ve talked to some smart people lately and they all say `don`t buy the cheap ones`. I`ve read and heard that the Monoprice ones are problematic, and most just stop working after awhile. This isn`t something that interests me. I would prefer to find a 4x4 matrix for CAT6 that comes with receivers for around $1000. Why does this seem like it`s too much to ask. This technology seem rare and and as the other guy noted (an evil mistress) like affair.

If you can push HDMI over CAT6, I assume we`re talking HDMI 1.4 (at best) and not the HDMI 2.0 (4k) that`s on the horizon (not that any of my TV`s currently handle 4k). I guess all I can do is pick one up and hope it works, if it doesn`t burn the $500 and go spend $1000, if that doesn`t work burn the $1000 and go spend $2000... I`m sure the wife is gonna flip!
Well, it has been over a month and I have found a few issues. The Monoprice has one HDBaseT output and one HDMI output. If someone changes the source on one of the outputs, it causes the other output to cut out for about 5 seconds. I'm also experiencing intermittent cut outs on the HDMI output and I suspect my reciever as the issue.

The lesson here is the switch is only half the problem. Your source devices can also cause issues by not completing the HDMI handshake correctly. Case in point is my Vizio, requires a reset of the Monoprice every time I turn it on. My Epson Project? Never has issues and works the first time.

When you talk to contactors, they will only support a small set of display devices because of those incompatibilities. Same for receivers.

I do hope that with the new equipment the price comes down. 4x4 is really your bare minimum needed for an HDBaseT deployment the price is very high resulting in 4x2 switches. I still wouldn't give up on HDBaseT though, the flexibility is top notch.
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