HD Anywhere - £500

This wired distribution system proves an effective way to send hi-def TV around the home

There are several ways to send high-definition sound and vision around a house.

You can go with unfeasibly long physical HDMI cables (with repeaters to help out when the signal flags) or opt for one of the many wireless HDMI solutions available. The latter can work well, although they come with caveats; physical obstacles and wall densities may be an unexpected barrier to success, which could be galling if you only discover this after you’ve splurged several hundred quid on a system, while different transmission techniques – from uncompressed WHDI to H.264 and some variations in between – can deliver wildly different image quality.

You can even send your video around the ring main, using an HD Juice Box (tested November 2011). However, perhaps the most effective is HDMI over Ethernet, as used by this HD Anywhere system.

Clearly a system like this has both commercial and consumer appeal. If you have a business that requires multiple displays to be running the same content from an HDMI source, then it’s ideal; it also works for digital signage applications. The other key use is pushing TV, be it Sky, cable or Freeview, wherever you need it.

It is a uniquely powerful solution. The ‘multi-room pack’ comprises a hub transmitter and four tiny display receivers. All are well made and wall-mountable, although not cosmetically intended to sit with your kit; this is behind the scenes gizmology.

The hub has a single HDMI input and four TV outputs (multi-input versions are available), and there’s also a quartet of IR blasters supplied. Each receiver is linked to the hub by a pair of Cat5e/Cat6 cables. These effectively replicate the constituent parts of a physical HDMI lead (the colour channels, clock channel, 5V supply and whatnot) over individual copper wires. An HDMI output on the receiver unit then feeds your display. Receivers are passive and require no additional power supply.

The system is a doddle to install, as there are no menus to configure or dips to switch. Connect the leads and source, power up the hub (in that order) and you’ll be good to go. An LED illuminates on each receiver, to signal it’s online, with a corresponding light above each TV output on the hub to confirm it’s active. Four TVs can be driven by a single HDMI input.

Sound and vision are transmitted uncompressed, so the image quality delivered appears identical to the source. We noted no extraneous artefacts, stuttering or break-up. Multichannel PCM stereo and bitstream audio is also delivered intact.

The distance you can run video has an impact on the resolution you are able to watch at. A 1080p signal will run out of steam at around 30m. However, 1080i from a set-top box (no channel broadcasts higher) is much more bandwidth-efficient and can fly across 50/60m of cable – more than enough for most households Steve May

Verdict

If you’re looking for a simple, efficient way to run hi-def around your pad, then look no further. This HD Anywhere system does exactly what it says on the tin. We were impressed with both its simplicity and performance. Highly recommended.

PLUS
- Uncompressed HDMI video quality
- Multi-channel sound support
- Can feed four TVs from one signal simultaneously
- Simple to install
Minus
- Can’t be integrated with a standard data LAN
- Will probably be replaced by single-cable HDBaseT in the future
Build
★★★★★★★★
Setup
★★★★★★★★★
Performance
★★★★★★★★★★
Features
★★★★★★★
Value
★★★★★★★★
Overall
90%



Transmission method: Ethernet
Maximum range claimed:  1080p 30m, 1080i 50-60m
Remote supplied: N/A
IR blaster: Yes
Resolutions supported: Up to 1080/60p
Soundtrack supported: Stereo, multichannel
HD inputs: 1xHDMI
HD outputs: 4xHDMI
HDCP: 2.0
SD inputs: none
SD outputs: none
Ethernet: Yes
USB: none