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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I just wanted to do a quick review on the HDMI-over-Cat5e extender kit that I got from HDTV Supply. I WAS going to buy a 4x4 matrix switch, for a ridiculus amount of money, which would have not quite met all my requirements since I have 5+ remote sites and an 8x8 would have been WAYYY too over my budget. I realized, after a lot of thinking, that I really don't need a matrix switch with my setup. Here is what I've got:


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HTPC -- Quad Core Processor, 3GB RAM, 2TB storage, Blu-ray drive (way overkill for a HTPC by the way), and 2 HD tuners run by Windows 7 and Media Center.


2 Xbox 360's -- To serve as Media Extenders

2 LCB-HDMI-C5IRK -- HDMI-over-cat5e + IR passthrough

Sony STR-DH800 -- 7.1 w/TrueHD and dtsHD,24p (Unfortunately I only have a 5.1 setup)

Westinghouse 42" LCD 1080p 60Hz in the living room

23" 1080p HDMI monitor in the garage
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The way Media Center extenders work is it broadcasts an (identical minus some extra features) feed of the user interface to the extender. You can have up to ten extenders on a network. You can have them all pumping at the same time running in seperate sessions (if your network can handle it). The reason I said I don't need a matrix switch is because each extender session can access all the media that I have (pictures, videos, music, podcasts, TV shows, movies, netflix watch instantly...) so I don't need multiple sources. Also, it was an easier sell to my wife because the upfront cost was a lot less than if I went with the switch. It was also a simpler installation than buying a 1x8 splitter over cat5e and a completely seperate system for IR passthrough.


Anyway, the HDMI extender kit costs ~$220 each (including 3-day shipping). They were shipped the day I ordered them and arrived in a timely manner. Even though it doesn't have any moving parts, it was packaged very well and everything was accounted for. The parts included are:

-HDMI-to-Cat5e transmitter (~1"x3"x3")

-Cat5e-to-HDMI receiver (~1"x3"x3")

-5V power adapter for the receiver (~1"x2"x3") and 6' cord

-2 3' HDMI cables

-IR reciever on ~3' cable

-IR blaster on ~3' cable

-Some screws for mounting (if you need them)
I tested it out with a pair of homemade 6' cat5e's between an xbox and my 23" monitor and it worked perfectly right off the bat. The way it works is one cat5e is for the video and audio and the other one is for the IR passthough. I was very much relieved to find out that I couldn't feel any lag when scrolling through the Xbox interface. There is a signal strength selector on the receiver and it worked on the lowest settings -- 6' run remember? It's rated up to 130'. I then tried the real run, again, that I pulled and terminated by myself -- it was the first time I pulled wire and maybe the tenth time I terminated a Cat5e. Now I was going from the HTPC in the laundry room to the living room TV directly. First time success again! This run is probably 35-40'. I was still getting a perfect picture on the lowest stength setting. And even more surprising.. still no lag! With all the preliminary tests done, I added in the receiver. Again, Perfect! No lag for the controls. No audio lag. Lips were synced perfectly.


I've watched many movies since I've hooked it up (probably 3 weeks ago) and it sound/looks as good as the original. I've also plugged and unplugged the setup many times in different orders and I've never run into a problem with establishing a HDCP connection. I rip my Blu-ray's since Media Center extenders cannot access the optical drives in the HTPC. It's in H.264 format wrapped in MKV at 1080p24 (even though my TV can't do 24p... hopefully I can afford a newer TV soon) using ripbot264. The movies are in a native 'movie library' and have all the metadata automatically downloaded with a program called Yammm (props to the developer, Mikinho!).


The next step, which I hopefully will finish today, is to setup the garage unit. The laundry side is ready to go.. I just need to get the monitor and HDMI receiver out to the garage and see how well it does. This run is the longest I have in my house at about 90-100'. I will reply to this thread and let you know how it goes. I am confident that it'll work just fine.


Here are some pictures of my media distribution center (I need a better name.. suggestions?)

https://sites.google.com/site/htpcsetup/file-cabinet


Reply with questions, comments, suggestions, etc.


Thanks for reading!

-Jonathan
 

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It should not be surprising that you experienced no lag with the adapters. The adapters generate, at most, microsecond delays, and it requires millisecond delays to be noticeable.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You're right.. I guess my fear comes from some experience with a Harmony remote I got to control an xbox and there was some horrible lag with it. It took a lot of time and experimenting to reduce the lag to a managable level. I'm just using the basic Microsoft Xbox Media Center remote. Works great!
 

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Thanks for the review and interesting use of the laundry room! I've though about moving my mini-rack in there but was worried about the heat ((I have those some canvas bins as well.)


I've been debating on a picking up one of these as my wife isn't too keen on me ripping open the drywall and I already have a Cat6 drop behind the TV. Would you mind taking a picture of the HDMI IR extender kit? I'd probably go with Global Cache's iTach devices but I'm curious what their's looks like.


And thanks for the Yammm mention =)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I uploaded a picture of the receiver unit with a soda can for size comparison. Follow the link above to get to it. You can also see them in the other pictures. The actual IR receiver looks like this .


I was very gracious when my wife okay'ed the holes for the in-ceiling speakers. I timed it so I started the work as soon as my wife left for a walk and finished before she came back. She never did see the gaping holes.


By the way, I got the other extender up and working and the freakin' thing red ringed!! Argh!!


-Jonathan
 

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Thanks for the pic, much appreciated. I probably can't justify the cost right now but good to keep in mind.


For your RRoD, the Xbox cabinet looks pretty tight. A couple 120mm fans or similar cabinet cooling kits would probably help out.
 

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Nice. I recently finished wiring the upstairs of my home and will be wiring the downstairs, with the server and HT gear in the laundry room, so it's good to see I'm not the only one. The laundry room shares a wall with the family room, where the HT is located, so it is the logical choice for shorter equipment runs.


Heat should not be a problem in the laundry room, assuming the dryer is vented outside. Proper venting will also insure that no additional dust load is added to the room too. Our spare bedroom, home to my server currently, gets far hotter in the summer heat than the laundry room ever does.


Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Our laundry room is on the west side of the house and we are in a canyon with the hill to the west so it's in a perfect spot. Its the coolest room in the house.


So if I have a 120mm fan, what can I connect it to? Is there a small 5 or 7 or 12 volt plug that goes into a fan connector that I can buy to test it out?
 

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I ordered one of these extenders last week and because its working so well, I've ordered another.


The setup I'm currently using is:

Direct TV at 1080i

~6 feet cat6 cable

patch panel terminated with a belkin cat6a shielded port

~55 feet of cat6a STP from blackbox

belkin keystone cat6 plug

~1 foot cat6 STP cable


Thanks for the review.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's been about well over a month and there haven't been any problems. I did speak of a RRoD problem before which I fixed by adding an 80mm fan blowing cool air into the Xbox. I ended up, pretty ingeniously if I do say so myself, powering it off the computer itself. This way when you turn on the extender, it sends a magic packet and turns on the computer along with the extra cooling fan. I have a few pictures on my home media hub website.

http://sites.google.com/site/htpcsetup/home


-Jonathan
 
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