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Black Diamond Video DVI X-Treme Extender

February, 2006

John E. Johnson, Jr.

 

Specifications:


● Maintains 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p up to
    60 Meters of DVI Cable
● Single Link or Dual Link Option
● Fully HDCP Compliant
● HDCP Compliant
● 5 Volt Wall-Wart Power Supply Included
● Dimensions: 1" H x 3"W x 4"D
● Weight: 1 Pound

● MSRP: $843 USA with 50 Meter DVI Cable
 
Black Diamond Video

www.blackdiamondvideo.com

Introduction

Now that DVI sources and displays, as well as HDMI sources and displays, are commonly available, many of us have bought components with these connections.

It all seems to work pretty well, but there is an issue with the length of the cable between the source (DVD player or satellite/cable box) and the display (HDTV or HD projector).

If the cable is too long, but still enough to provide a usable signal, the image has the "sparkles", which are small white pixels randomly spread across the screen. We may not even notice them, but they are there, and they degrade the picture quality.

In worse cases, there may be no image at all, because the cable is so long, the signal just does not reach the display at a voltage high enough for the display to lock on to it.

You might think there is just something incorrect with your configuration. Maybe you set something in the menu to the wrong option. Maybe the TV is defective.

Nope, it is just the cable. It's too long.

A number of companies out there supply the fix to this situation. Black Diamond Video is one of them.

The product reviewed here is the DVI X-Treme, which will let you have a DVI cable up to 60 meters (almost 200 feet) in length, between your source and display. That is enough for any situation I can think of, such as your main home theater at one end of the house, where you might have a TiVo recorder, and a second HDTV at the other end, where you might want to watch a high def movie that you recorded on the TiVo. This includes all the bends and turns through the walls, up across the attic, down other walls, under the floor, etc., before ending up at the display.

When Ted Hoppe, from Black Diamond Video, called me and told me about this product, I just had to see it for myself.

So, the X-Treme arrived, along with a 150 foot DVI cable. Although Black Diamond gives you a choice of single link or dual link, I chose the single link, as that is the cable type I have had the most success with. Theoretically, dual link should work fine, as the other conductors are not connected, but I have experienced trouble with dual link cables, perhaps because there is some sort of induction in the other conductors that interferes with signal propagation in the active conductors.

The Design

The X-Treme consists of a very small box, with male DVI jacks on both ends, and a jack for the 5 volt wall wart DC supply.

You connect one end of the long DVI cable to your source, run the length where you need it, and connect the X-Treme at the other end, within about 6 feet of your display. Then, you use a short DVI cable from there to your display.

The X-Treme will carry 1080p up to 60 meters of copper conductor DVI cable.

In Use

I tested the X-Treme with a Denon DVD-5900 which has a DVI out, and ran the 150 foot cable to the X-Treme box, and from there, a six foot DVI-DVI cable to a 4x2 HDMI switcher (DVI to HDMI adapter, 2" in length, at the end of the 6 foot DVI/DVI cable). I wanted to see if the switcher would still work with the 150 foot cable in front of it.

Well, with 150 feet of DVI cable between the DVD player and the switcher (no X-Treme  box in the circuit), and with 24 feet of HDMI cable between the switcher and the projector, there was no video at all. This is not surprising, since the switcher is not designed for extremely long cables. It is designed for switching.

With 150 feet of DVI cable between the source and the X-Treme box, six feet of DVI to HDMI cable between the X-Treme box and the switcher, and 24 feet of HDMI cable between the switcher and the projector, the image was perfect. I was really surprised to see a high frequency digital signal being transmitted this kind of distance. There were no sparkles at all. Note that the DVI X-Treme box is not sold by itself. It must be ordered with whatever long cable lengths you need for your project.

Conclusions

When DVI first arrived, I was very worried that we were going to have big issues with long cables.

The problem does exist with those cables, but extenders, such as the Black Diamond Video DVI X-Treme, fix the problem completely. It will work with a mixture of DVI and HDMI components, a switcher, and almost 200 feet total of cable, with the resulting picture the same as if the total cable were just a meter. Amazing.

I can see custom installers lining up for Black Diamond Video products already.

 

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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