Since it now appears HDMI connections are here for the long run, companies are putting resources into lots of accessories that satisfy certain needs. One of these pops up when you want to view a program that you recorded on your satellite box DVR or live broadcast, on an HDTV in a different room, maybe even a room at the other end of your house.
Simply using a long HDMI cable won’t work, due to signal loss. However, several manufacturers are now producing HDMI extenders that use Cat 5 (or Cat 6 if you like) cable. Some that I took a look at but chose not to review needed two Cat 5 cables, so I waited. Now, Centronics offers an extender that requires only one Cat 5 cable and will send 1080p up to 100 feet from the source to your HDTV. You plug a short HDMI cable from your satellite box into the Centronics transmitter and another short HDMI cable into the receiver and HDTV at the other end.
Here is a photo of the transmitter on the right and the receiver on the left. The Cat 5 jacks are on the other side of the boxes. Each box requires a 5 volt wall-wart (included).
To use the extender, you run a short HDMI cable from your satellite box (or a Blu-ray player, or whatever HDTV source you want to use) to one of the HDMI inputs (it uses whichever input is active). Then, you run a Cat 5 (I use Cat 6 for everything these days, and it is especially good for long runs) to the receiver. From there, you connect a short HDMI cable from the receiver to one of the HDMI inputs on your HDTV. You can connect two sources to the transmitter, and it will switch automatically to the one that is active.
For the test, I used a 100 foot Cat 6 cable. I ran it from my satellite box downstairs to an LCD HDTV upstairs.
I compared the image with and without the Centronics in place by turning on the same high definition TV program on the satellite box that is sitting underneath the TV and the satellite box downstairs. This was for 1080i tests.
I also used an OPPO BDP-83 player, set to output Blu-ray movies in 1080p.
The Centronics worked beautifully, with no visible difference in the image quality with or without that 100 foot Cat 5 cable in the path, either with 1080i or 1080p signals.
At an MSRP of $249, the Centronics DHCT5 could be a very useful item in the home, where you might have some high definition movies stored on one DVR at the one end of the house and want to watch them on an HDTV at the other end. This is the case for me, as I have some classic films, like The Guns of Navarone and all six of the Star War films stored on the satellite box DVR downstairs. I remember when I was scanning the program guide for my DirecTV satellite box and just by chance saw that The Guns of Navarone was being shown in HD in the middle of the night. I recorded it nearly two years ago, and have enjoyed it from time to time since then. But, it’s not available for purchase on Blu-ray disc yet, so I don’t want to lose that recording, and I don’t necessarily want to always watch it downstairs. Enter the Centronics.
You can order it directly on-line: Centronics.