Q: I am in the process of finishing a bar area in my basement. I will have two TVs on the wall near the bar. I am a huge football fan, and I'd like to be able to view more than one game at a time. I have two DirecTV receivers (model HR24, 1080p), one in a bedroom and the other in the living room. They are connected directly to the TVs in those rooms, so my first question is about HDMI splitters.

I would like to take the signal from the bedroom satellite box and show that on one of the TVs in the bar area and do the same thing from the living room box to the other TV in the bar area. The longest cable run is approximately 45 feet from the bedroom receiver to the TV in the bar area. The other run would be around 30 feet.

I have been researching on AVS Forum about HDMI extenders using CAT6 cables. Do you have any recommendations for an HDMI extender? I've looked at the Atlona AT-UHD-ES-70-2PS, which sends HDMI via CAT6 cable. Also, I would like to be able to change the channel of the DirecTV receivers in the bar area.

- Jeffrey Hartzler (muleycrazy)



A: This is a complicated question! I think your best bet is to install 1-in/2-out HDMI splitters in the bedroom and living room. In each room, you would connect the DirecTV receiver's HDMI output to the input of the splitter, and connect one of the outputs on the splitter to the TV in that room and the other output to one of the TVs in the bar area. That requires a very long HDMI cable from each room to the bar area.

I looked for an HDMI splitter that includes the ability to convey IR commands from a remote location back to the DirecTV receiver, and I found just such a system from MyCableMart.com. The products I found fit your requirements perfectly and very inexpensively. I have not tried these devices myself, but they appear to do exactly what you're looking for with 1080p sources.

First, the HDMI splitter; check out the BE-110544 ($29.05 each if you buy two to five units). It implements HDMI 1.4 at 10.2 Gbps, and it supports 1080p and even UHD (2160p) at 24 or 30 Hz, though not HDCP 2.2, so it won't work with a UHD Blu-ray player.

At such a low price, my biggest concern is what happens if the two TVs connected to the splitter have different characteristics as encoded in their EDIDs (Extended Display Identification Data). The TVs send these data back along the HDMI cable, and if one TV is lower resolution than the other, both will get a signal at the lower resolution.

Still, I like this splitter for your application because it also lets you control the DirecTV receivers from the bar area using IR remotes. To do that, you need a few additional items. First, you need four BE-110514 IR HDMI adapters ($7.49 each when you buy two to five units). These are little dongles with a male HDMI connector on one end and a female HDMI connector on the other end. Plug one into the HDMI output of each DirecTV box and an HDMI input on each TV in the bar area.

Then, in the bedroom and living room, connect the dongle on the DirecTV receiver to the input of the HDMI splitter and one of the splitter's outputs to the input of the TV in that room. Next, connect the splitter's other output to the dongle installed on one of the bar area's TVs using a long HDMI cable (more on that shortly).

For each TV in the bar area, you need a BE-110513 IR receiver ($6.96 when you buy two to five units), which plugs into a 3.5mm jack on the side of the dongle connected to the TV. The other end of the IR receiver's cable is an IR "eye" that picks up IR commands from the remote.

For each DirecTV receiver, you need a BE-110512 IR transmitter ($6.96 each when you buy two to five units), which plugs into a 3.5mm jack on the side of the dongle connected to the DirecTV box. The other end of the IR transmitter's cable has an IR blaster, which you need to position so the DirecTV receiver's IR "eye" can see it.

This setup lets you control each DirecTV receiver from the bar area with an IR remote. The only problem I foresee is IR crosstalk—the IR signal might be picked up by both IR receivers in the bar area and change the channels on both DirecTV boxes. There should be a way to position them or construct a barrier that prevents this.

Now, let's consider the HDMI cables from the splitters to the bar area. As you describe, one needs to be about 45 feet long, and the other needs to be about 30 feet long. You could certainly use an HDMI-to-HDBaseT converter like the Atlona AT-UHD-ES-70-2PS ($310 on Amazon), which can send HDMI over CAT6 cable much longer than you need.

I recommend another solution—Fibbr fiber-optic HDMI cables. These cables can also convey HDMI reliably over much longer distances than you need, and they do not require yet another box. You simply plug them into HDMI ports as you would with any conventional HDMI cable. (They are directional, so you must pay attention to which end is connected where.)

Here, I think you should install high-speed cables, even though you don't need them—yet. Installing cabling can be a pain, so once it's done, you don't want to redo it if you don't have to. Fibbr's high-speed cable is called Ultra Pro, which can convey HDMI's current top data rate of 18 Gbps. It's available in lengths of 15 meters/49.2 feet ( $279 on Amazon ) and 10 meters/32.8 feet ( $229 on Amazon ). That's very expensive for HDMI cables, but it's less than the Atlona box and simpler to deal with.

Fibbr also offers fiber-optic cables rated to convey 10.2 Gbps, which is all you need now, and they are less expensive than Ultra Pro. But if you eventually decide to upgrade the system with a 4K/UHD source in the bedroom or living room that you want to display on the TVs in the bar area, the UltraPro cables will be able to handle the extra bandwidth. At that point, you'll also need to upgrade the HDMI splitters, and I don't know of any that send IR commands back to the source device like the MyCableMart products. But those products are so inexpensive, you won't have lost much by using them for now.

As always, I invite AVS Forum members to chime in with their answers to your question. I might be unaware of other HDMI splitters that will solve your problem perfectly—especially if they have EDID management and the ability to convey IR commands back to the source devices.



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