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Accell UltraCat HD HDMI Extender

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction to the Accell UltraCat HD HDMI Cable Extender

During CEDIA 2011, one technology that caught my attention was HDBaseT. It provided a solution to the all too familiar cable clutter problem. Below is a picture that I took at their booth which shows a set of cables whose signals could all be transmitted over a single Cat5e/6 cable at distances up to 100m. Given that many homes have this pre-existing wiring, transmitting this assortment of signals could now be done both easily and reliably. I was eager to review a product with this technology, and when I received a press release from Accell about their UltraCat HD HDMI extender, I requested a review sample, which was promptly sent my way.

ACCELL ULTRACAT HD HDMI CABLE EXTENDER SPECIFICATIONS

UltraAV 1x4 HDMI Splitter

  • Connectors: 1 Input, 4 Outputs
  • Supported Resolutions: Up to 1080p
  • Dimensions: 0.75" H x 6.2" W x 2.7" D
  • Maximum Supported Cable Length: 16ft (5m) Input, 33 ft (10m) Output
  • Power: 100-240V, 50/60Hz
  • MSRP: $149.99

UltraCAT HD

  • Supported Resolutions: All HD Resolutions Including 1080p@60Hz@48bits, 4kx2k, 3D
  • Audio Formats: LPCM, Compressed Audio
  • Output Video: HDMI v1.4 + HDCP v1.1 + CEC
  • Distance: 328ft (100m) using Cat-5e
  • Cat-5e/6 Termination (Signal and Ethernet): TIA/EIA-568B
  • Power Consumption: 2.5W (Transmitter), 5W (Receiver)
  • Dimensions: 4.1" H x 6" W x 1.2" D
  • Weight (Both Modules): 2 Pounds
  • Power: 100-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Mounting Ears: Included
  • Ethernet Pass-through: 10/100Baset
  • Serial Pass-through: RS-232C to 57600 bps (Full Duplex)
  • IR Transmitter/Receiver on Each Module: 3.5 mm Connector
  • MSRP: $499.99 USD
  • Accell
  • SECRETS Tags: Accell, HDMI, Splitter

UltraCat HD

Accell's UltraCat HD HDMI extenders are based on HDBaseT technology which enables simultaneous transfer of uncompressed audio/video, 10/100BaseT Ethernet, RS232 and IR control signals over a single Cat5e/6 cable. The UltraCat HD comes in two pieces, a transmitter and a receiver, which are connected to each other via a Cat5e/6 cable. The transmitter and receiver are near identical images of each other. Both are housed in a metal enclosure with mounting ears; they measure 5.98î (W) x 4.13î (H) x 1.22î (D), and they weigh a modest 1.98lbs.

The UltraCat HD is HDMI v1.4 compliant. For video, all HD resolutions including 1080p@60Hz@48-bits, 4k@30Hz@24-bits, and 3D are supported. For 1080p signals, the maximum cable run can be 100m, which should satisfy most installations. On the audio side, both compressed and uncompressed formats are supported.

Bi-directional IR control capability is also provided. There are two 3.5mm connectors on both the transmitter and the receiver to which the supplied IR receiver and IR emitter cables are connected. The IR receiver will typically get placed in a location where you are likely to aim your remote control. The IR emitter will likely be pasted on the IR receiver of the component that is to be controlled remotely; a double-sided adhesive tab is included with each emitter cable. The cables themselves are not labeled, however, the bags they come in are. To me, the picture in the manual suggested the opposite of the labeling on the bags. A quick email to Accell resulted in a prompt and clear explanation. The IR emitter was the ìbuttonî shaped unit with a mono 3.3mm plug, and the IR receiver was the ìrectangleî shaped unit with the stereo plug. The exact wording in the response would be a great addition to the manual. Additionally, color coding and/or labeling the cable themselves would remove any confusion.

The RS-232 port serves a dual-purpose. In its default configuration, it allows for RS-232 control signal transmission. It can, however, also be used to perform a firmware update. Doing so requires opening the case of both the transmitter and receiver, since the jumper cap needs to be relocated.

There are several LED status indicators on the front and back of both the transmitter and the receiver; there is also a red flashing LED inside the enclosure. They are useful during initial setup or when diagnosing a connection problem, however, during normal operation I would have liked the option to turn them off without resorting to covering them with a tape.

UltraAV Mini 1x4 HDMI Audio/Video Splitter

Accell offers a range of HDMI splitters and switches with varying levels of flexibility. For this review, Accell sent me their UltraAV Mini 1x4 HDMI 1.3 Audio/Video splitter. As the name implies, this device mirrors its HDMI input across its four HDMI outputs. The device is sleek and compact, measuring 8.6î (W) x 4.7î (L) x 1.8î (H) and weighing 2.2 lbs. The maximum supported resolution is 1080p, with support for 3D video. The maximum supported cable lengths for input and output are specified to be 5m and 10m respectively; amplified HDMI cables can be used for longer cable runs.

There are five red LED status indicators on the front: one for power, and one for each of the four outputs. The output indicator lights turn on once a successful handshake is established between the splitter and a powered output device. The LEDs are bright and they can be distracting in a darkened room. This is easy to remedy with some tape, however, I would have liked to have the option to turn them off.