Inside HDanywhere’s X Event: 10 New Products Unveiled
Headline EI Live! North show sponsor HDanywhere ensured it stayed firmly in the spotlight during the October exhibition, giving those that arrived in Manchester the evening before the show an exclusive look at 10 new products at its highly anticipated X special event.
In an Apple-style keynote, HDanywhere took over screen five at the Odeon Cinema at Manchester Printworks, unveiling a brand new design language, four new HDMI extenders called XTND, two new more-affordable MHUB 4K systems, two new MHUB 4K ‘Pro’ systems with touch panel controls and cloud services, new scaling receivers, and uControl – an App allowing users to control every device, source, MHUB and display connected to MHUB Pro for free.
All products unveiled could be found inside the manufacturer’s distinctive booth dubbed the ‘floating palace’ at EI Live! North, which was packed with a heavy stream of visitors eager to get hands-on with the new products throughout the day.
“At HDA we do things differently,” said Chris Pinder, HDA co-founder, during the packed out X event presentation. “We are not a typical manufacturer in the video distribution category. A combination of great design and a brave innovative culture is at the heart of our business. This is an opportunity to realign how people perceive HDanywhere as a device which can actively enhance the AV experience in the smart home.”
Four new extender models
The manufacturer kicked things off by launching four completely new HDMI extenders, replacing all existing models called XTND. Made from ultra lightweight aluminium and sporting a new industrial design language HDanywhere is calling ‘Carbonite’, the new products include two models separated into 2K (1080p) and two models in 4K (UHD + HDR). Sporting retail-grade packaging, the extender models are light and thin – well suited for today’s ultra thin displays. In fact, Chris calls them his “slender extenders”.
A model the manufacturer was keen to draw attention to during the launch event and at EI Live! North was the new XTND 4K 100 model which uses HDBaseT 2.0 Class C technology, meaning that it delivers 4K 100m, 1080p 150m when set in long range mode and offers audio return from either an optical connection or the ARC HDMI channel from the display. “It really is class leading and a phenomenal extender product,” Chris enthused.
Of the four models, two are already shipping (the XTND2K30 and the XTNDK40), with XTND2K40 and XTND4K100 shipping in November.
Introducing a new flagship system: MHUB 4K Pro
After 14 months of top-secret development, HDanywhere was finally ready to introduce the MHUB 4K Pro, optimised to do more, only with less hardware.
“MHUB 4K Pro is our most refined design ever and is the first MHUB to use elegant backlit touch controls which fade in and out as required to keep a discrete, clutter-free premium look,” Chris explained. “When you get up close to MHUB 4K Pro you’ll just want to touch it. Trust us!”
Internally, the MHUB Pro’s feature HDBaseT-Pro, utilising HDBT Class A technology, which adds fast Ethernet, enhancing what can be achieved over a single cat6 cable. MHUB 4K Pro delivers not just video distribution, it can also enable the connected home.
Key to its appeal is its various zone output audio options: On each zone output, it is possible to get the HDMI audio down-mixed to two-channel stereo via the 3.5mm headphone jack, while the optical/SPDIF port will allow up to 5.1 audio simultaneously. For uncompressed audio, such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, the mirrored HDMI outputs on each of the eight zones can be utilised.
These are the most powerful MHUB 4Ks the manufacturer has ever built, and they come in two models: MHUB 4K (4×4) Pro 4 HDMI in, 4 HDBaseT-Pro Out, 4 Digital and 4 Analogue Audio Out, Touch Panel controls, HDA Cloud Enabled, HDA Pro Enabled, uControl Service Enabled, and MHUB 4K (8×8) Pro 8 HDMI in, 8 HDBaseT-Pro Out, 8 Digital and 8 Analogue Audio Out, Touch Panel controls, HDA Cloud Enabled, HDA Pro Enabled, uControl Service Enabled.
MHUB 4K (3rd Gen) systems
“Our 2K range has been our most popular multiroom system by quite a distance and we’ve sold a lot of them,” Chris announced. “We know that this is down to its price point, dependability and performance, but there is no denying that we’re moving into an Ultra HD world. We began to think: ‘what if we could make an MHUB 4K (that also supported UHD + HDR) for close-to the price of our MHUB 2K systems?’ So we have revealed just that: our new MHUB 4K (3rd Gen) for exactly the same price as MHUB 2K.”
Featuring a radically improved new industrial design also using the Carbonite design language, these are manufactured using aluminium to a high standard – so much in fact, that the manufacturer is confident that users will immediately notice the step up in build quality.
MHUB 4K sports a simplified front panel design with no LCD display, instead LED indicators and simple buttons have been used to reduce costs but keep operation easy and intuitive. Upgraded from MHUB 2K is the addition of PoE and robust HDBaseT-Lite technology, reportedly improving performance and increasing transmission distances by 40%. The receivers share the same design as HDanywhere’s XTND extenders, being light and super thin – and are the manufacturer’s most affordable MHUB 4Ks.
The new products are available in two models: MHUB 4K (4×3+1) 4 HDMI in, 3 HDBaseT-Lite out and 1 HDMI out, 1 zone audio extraction, and MHUB 4K (8×6+2) 4 HDMI in, 3 HDBaseT-Lite out and 1 HDMI out, 1 zone audio extraction.
All MHUBs now shipping with DASH
HDanywhere has created a mobile optimised HTML5 web interface to manage settings designed to simplify the MHUB 4K’s installation experience. Once set up it can also be used as a handy source switching remote control should a remote not be nearby. All setup requirements are covered: source and room names, LAN settings and EDID management. For additional security, the user can lock the interface using a quick four-digit pin.
MHUB 4K Pro systems will support IOT functions for advanced features and control
On-board MHUB 4K Pro is the same DASH platform as the MHUB 4K, but now comes with bolstered IOT abilities enabling Cloud backup and monitoring, troubleshooting assistance and access to the advanced uControl service.
HDanywhere remains control agnostic, adding more third party support
HDanywhere and MHUB remain committed to supporting as many control systems as possible; drivers for all MHUBs remain completely free of charge. Access to them has been made easier as they are now available from within the platform in DASH.
On top of that, the manufacturer has added an Opto-Coupler device, meaning that direct IR control can now be passed from any control system directly in to MHUB’s IR ports for direct control, eliminating the need to manually pass an IR signal from one device to another.
MHUB Pro solves the problem of mismatched display resolutions
Scaling is a feature normally seen on IP-based systems, but generally not on HDBaseT. An optional 4K to 1080p downscaling receiver is available on MHUB Pro, enabling a simple way to get over the real-world challenges of mixed resolution projects. All that is needed is 1x per 1080 display for a simple solution to the problem.
Introducing uControl: Powerful out-of-the box control
HDanywhere’s ‘one more thing’ moment from its keynote was the introduction of what is calls ‘unintimidating, powerful control’.
“At HDanywhere, we believe that control of MHUB and the devices connected to it was woefully under par for a manufacturer in 2016 and we wanted to address that in our pro systems,” said Chris. “It is now possible to control MHUB, source devices and displays using our new uControl App which will be available when our MHUB’s ship in December.
“The App is intuitive and easy to use with no programming knowledge required to operate or set up. It features beautiful HDA design and requires no additional hardware to be purchased; everything you need is included in the box and is ready to go.”
The App was successfully demonstrated at the X Event, showcasing its source switching capabilities and control of an Apple TV and Sky HD system.
“We’re so confident in our products and build quality that we’re increasing our warranty period by another year,” added Chris. “It is our dependability guarantee.”
All new MHUBs will ship in December along with uControl, which is available to download from iOS and Android Play Store.
“From a HDA perspective, EI Live! North was the best show we have ever done in terms of reception to our new product releases,” said Chris. “We really like the location and show venue.”