Understanding the HDMI Ethernet Channel

In the past, in order to enjoy IP-enabled applications on high-definition electronic display devices like HDTVs, consumers had to get separate Ethernet cables to allow connectivity. However, with the introduction of the HDMI Ethernet Channel, all you need is a single HDMI cable with Ethernet. Let’s talk about what the HDMI Ethernet Channel is, its capabilities, limitations and what it generally entails.

What is HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC)?
The HEC is a platform that allows transmission of high speed, 2-way digital data signals. With the HEC, devices featuring this channel can receive and send data through 100Mb/sec Ethernet. This means that you can instantly access IP-enabled programs and applications.

Capabilities of HDMI Ethernet Channel
Some of the key capabilities of HEC include the following:

Internet Sharing:
With the introduction of HDMI Ethernet channel, you can now share internet connection from Blu-ray disc players, gaming consoles, HDTVs and other internet-enabled HDMI entertainment gadgets—without buying a separate cable. However, in order to enjoy the internet sharing function, there has to be a sort of router in the network. This routing device can be one that is built into your device or a lone router. Through this router, you can share connection with devices that are connected by the HDMI cable.

Home Networking:
HEC is designed to support the current networking protocols but it also goes beyond that to lay down the platform for future networking solutions. Thus, it caters to LiquidHD, UpnP, DLNA, TCP/IP and virtually any other advanced networking solution capable of running over existing Ethernet connections and that is employed by HDMI home entertainment devices.

Distribution of Digital Content:
Just like the internet sharing function, HDMI Ethernet Channel allows connected electronic devices to distribute digital content without the need to get a separate cable. This means that you can easily store, record and play-back digital content in the original format. With this feature, it means that if you want to share, for instance, digital content like HDCP encrypted content, it will remain in the original encrypted format while sharing it and you’ll only be able to access it with HDCP-enabled devices. This is so because such content are protected to discourage piracy. However, if the original or native format is unprotected, you don’t need an HDCP-enabled device for sharing.

Cables Supporting HDMI Ethernet Channel
You can only enjoy the HDMI Ethernet Channel with two cables: High Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet and Standard HDMI cable with Ethernet. Thus if you have the other two HDMI cables, i.e. Standard HDMI cable and High Speed HDMI cable, you won’t be able to enjoy the HEC.

You’ll need a Standard HDMI cable with Ethernet if your display device has lower resolutions like 1080i or 720p. High Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet support higher resolutions like 1080p. However, the good thing about these cables is that they are backward compatible and if your device supports an earlier version, these cables will still work for them.

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