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Ethernet to replace HDMI as standard TV cable?

If you’re like me, your office closet is packed to the gills with cables — ones you bought but no longer use, and ones that come free with computer and home-theater equipment.

Chances are the one type of wire you have more of than any other is the ubiquitous Ethernet cable, that data networking cable that looks like an overgrown telephone wire, made obsolete for most computer users thanks to the popularity of Wi-Fi.

But wouldn’t you know it, the Ethernet cable is making a comeback, and not for your computer but for your TV.

Dubbed HDBaseT, Ethernet is the basis for a new A/V cabling standard, designed by LG, Sony, and Samsung to replace HDMI and other digital cables.

The reasons for moving back to Ethernet are many: As DailyTech explains, Ethernet can handle high-speed data at 100Mbps (and considerably higher, actually), and, even more enticingly, Ethernet cables can be far longer than most other modern standards: 328 feet at their longest. Having a single cable would unify computers and the living room, getting rid of the panoply of cable types that most A/V enthusiasts have learned to suffer with.

Another great advantage: Ethernet cables are uncommonly cheap and widely available, and they can be cut to fit by anyone with some basic training — many modern houses even have the cables pre-run right into the walls.

Until wireless HD video becomes a real (and affordable) possibility, dropping Ethernet into a television sounds like an enticing and promising proposition — and it’s coming sooner than you might think. The standard should actually start appearing in TVs and other A/V equipment later this year.

— Christopher Null is a technology writer for Yahoo! News.

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Jul 7, 2010 09:09

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