If you have a video source (such as a Sky, Tivo or FreeView box, Apple TV, or DVD/BluRay player) in one room that you watch from a different room then the most obvious problem you’re going to have to address is how to get the signal from your source device to the screen or projector in the other room.
You have a number of options if you have this problem:
- Install a standard video cable to transmit the signal between rooms.
- Install a cat cable between rooms and use a cat-cable video transmitter & receiver set.
- Use a wireless or powerline video transmitter & receiver set.
Option 1: Use a standard video cable
Using a standard video cable is the way to go if it’s possible. But that’s not always the case. The most common reasons are:
- You can’t buy a cable which is long enough.
- You can buy a cable which is long enough but are concerned that the cable length will affect picture and/or sound quality.
- You can’t buy exactly the length of cable you need – so you end up buying a longer cable and end up with a pile of ‘cable spaghetti’ somewhere behind your equipment.
- The connectors on the ends of the cables you can buy are too large to fit through the size drill holes you’re prepared to drill in your home (and you can’t remove / re-fit the connectors to the cable yourself).
Option 2: Install a cat-cable between rooms and use a cat-cable video transmitter & receiver set
Assuming that how are happy to install a cable of some description, then the obvious choice is to use commonly available “cat” cable, also known as UTP or network cable. This cable is widely used for computer network installations and is increasingly found installed in new-build properties to create a wired computer network.
The advantages of “cat” cable are:
- Little or no loss of quality even over long distances.
- Can transmit standard definition and high definition signals.
- Is relatively cheap and widely available.
- Is relatively thin and flexible so it can easily be concealed.
- Can be terminated with RJ45 plugs by the end-user so cables can be made to exactly the right length and can be installed through smaller holes before the connectors are attached.
Cat cables cannot generally be used to connect directly between audio-visual devices, but a cat-cable video transmitter & receiver set will convert an audio-visual connection to an RJ45 connection at one end of the cable, and then back again at the other.
Option 3: Use a wireless or powerline video transmitter & receiver set
With these solutions you simply connect the video transmitter to your source equipment and the video receiver to your display equipment. Power everything up and you can watch your video source as if by magic!
The only real disadvantage with wireless transmitter and receiver sets is that manufacturers of such wireless devices do tend to exaggerate the range of their products – often quoting distances which are unrealistic in the real world. If the distance between your video source and your display equipment is 10 metres or less then these systems are definitely worth a try – but more than that (or if your home has particularly thick or dense internal walls, or has a lot of steel reinforcement) then you are likely to be disappointed.
The ability to send a video signal via your home’s electrical cables is a relatively recent innovation – though it has been possible to send computer network signals and home automation control signals this way for positively ages. Systems that use this technology connect in much the same way as the wireless systems described above – but send the video signal via the electrical mains rather than establishing a radio signal between the transmitter and receiver. As such, they overcome almost all of the problems associated with running new cables and wireless radio connections.