While there’s no explicit limit on the length of how long HDMI video cables can carry high-quality streams, the practical limit is about 50-feet. Beyond that for larger rooms, auditoriums or classes, you need a different approach. The best way is to convert the video stream with audio included into a digital format that can travel over regular old Cat 5 or Cat 6 LAN cables. You will need some special hardware at each end to pull it off, and that’s where Tripp-Lite’s B126-1A1 kit comes in.
The good news is that the $150 B126-1A1 set is not only inexpensive and easy to hide but doesn’t require adding any software. It doesn’t compress the video because the cables can actually handle a gigabit of data per second. In fact, you can think of the kit as an extra-long video cable. There’s a dedicated sender and receiver with an HDMI port at one end and an RJ-45 LAN port at the other. Both require power from an included AC adapter and include brackets for mounting the devices on a rack.
Able to support 24-bit color, 3-D and eight-channel audio, setting the B126-1A1 up literally takes a minute. Plug the sender in to the source material, connect the LAN cable and then plug the receiver in to the display. Each power plug can be screwed into the B126-1A1 device so that it doesn’t accidentally get loose at exactly the wrong moment.
Don’t get worried if after powering the devices up, the system doesn’t work because there’s an equalization dial that might need to be adjusted. Calibrated from 0 to 7. The only way to figure out the right setting is trial and error.
Using the B126-1A1 pair with a variety of Cat-6 LAN cables, I was able to move a 1080-p signal for as far as 180-feet. A little farther and the signal starts to lose frames and show odd artifacts. That’s slightly farther than the company’s 150-foot spec. According to Tripp-Lite, the system can move an interlaced signal 200-feet. If that’s not enough, the company sells B126-110 repeaters that roughly double the extender’s range and you can use up to three without degrading the signal.
If you’re requirements aren’t that demanding, Tripp-Lite’s B126-1A0 set uses USB power, costs about $70 and worked well up to about 150-feet. Either way, using HDMI over Cat-6 cables lets you to put video displays exactly where you want them without having to think about how far HDMI cables can reach.
+ Uses networking cables to move uncompressed video
+ HD capable
+ Full 7.1 audio
+ No software to install
+ Lockable power input
- Can’t work on active network
- Need to adjust equalization