As a home theater grows the desire for robust and admirable builds gets complex; an expected result of home-wide integration for the very determined owner. The biggest challenge by far is distance and getting it all to work perfectly with the minimum of cables running through, it’s not easy and it typically isn’t cheap either.
That is until you count Monoprice and their aptly-named HDBaseT Extender Kit, which does exactly as advertised in providing a long-distance audio/video solution that’s convenient and anything but complex in execution.
Style is going to be the last thing on people’s mind when they think of this device. There’s nothing distinctive looking as both the receiver and extender are just black metal boxes with a row of status lights up front and some connection stuff in the rear, with those being an HDBaseT (basically a CAT/Ethernet jack for lossless HD audio/video), HDMI, and two standard LAN ports (100 Mbps/100BaseT). Both units are small and you even get two IR repeaters for secondary device control for TV remotes that are already CEC synced with a Blu-Ray player.
With a straightforward enough setup as your main HDMI device (console/media player/whatever) goes to the transmitter box (labeled Extender). Afterwards, plug an Ethernet cable into the HDBaseT jack and run it to the corresponding Receiver box (also labeled), then connect your HDMI cable directly from that to your display.
The immediate result is uncompressed audio/video that’s able to be transferred over much greater distances of 70 meters (229 feet) with just a standard CAT5e Ethernet cable, or an impressive 100 meters (328 feet) if you have a CAT6 type. The data bandwidth of 10.2Gbps is supported and features such as stereoscopic 3D and lossless audio and codecs (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio) are all included, so your current setup should work without a hitch.
This kit did during my testing, which involved both an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4 for the source to the extender, a (yep, you guessed it) Pioneer VSX-1123 AVR between the HDBaseT receiver box, and an Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3600e projector acting as the display. With a range of roughly 80 feet overall, which is well within the parameters of this kit’s capabilities and enthusiast’s needs but quite dodgy or just unfeasible for most HDMI cables of equal length.
Image quality was spot-on and showed no discernible lip-sync, signal sparkles, or just plain dropouts no matter what the resolution or device running. For movie such as X-Men: Days of Future Past where the action is always accompanied by a constantly underlying LFE presence and action sequences that steadily ramp up throughout the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track was accounted for, and never let up despite the daisy-chaining method.
This kit will certainly fulfill home theater needs but network connectivity was also a welcome addition. As long as this is hooked up to router this will works as a decent internet bridge or splitter between any PC, Smart TV, or Ethernet device; it doesn’t matter which 100BASE-T LAN port is connected to a router/modem WAN port just, as long as it’s one of the four available while still running at your maximum tier speed. It’s a feature that really came in handy considering I’m always at odds for a open router port and a stable connection.
Even with all of this capability though, the jury might be out on its potential long-term reliability. The Receiver box in particular has a tendency to get ‘very warm’ after just an hour of being on, an unusual trait that the Extender box doesn’t exhibit. To be fair, My tester didn’t fail or fry itself as of this writing but our advice is if you keep it hidden, make sure the receiver has lots of breathing room to spare.
The Monoprice HDBase Extender Kit can make any arrangement look disturbingly clean, and without the need of a professional installer to make it happen. The asking price is agreeable and wired networking is a definite perk, though the small issue of heat could be cause for concern with tight spaces. Learn to live with the flaws and this kit might work wonders for you.