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Finishing the basement so I have the opportunity to place cabels or conduit for future cables for all kinds of systems.

Any insight as to what the next 5 years is going to bring us as far as home theater and TV watching??

I have heard that Satelite will change to Internet - so my satelite reciever box dissapears replaced with an ethernet cable directly to my TV?? Will cables change from CAT 5 to something else??

I already have a Western digital media center hooked up to an external harddrive - download tv shows etc - save to drive - watch when I want. I know the media center is already a wireless network connection to transfer my files to the harddrive without haveing to fish out a USB cable from some dark corner - any other possibilities along this line and what cable should I put in place??

I believe the future of TV is downloading your TV shows and movies whenever you want to watch whenever you want - just wanna be prepared.

Setting up a computer (in my case hide the thing in a storage room) but for what purpose?? Sure it can be my internet connection to download stuff and watch without having to wait for file transfer to some external drive - will a computer replace my stereo reciever?? What else can a computer do for a home theater??

While I may not be able to afford some of the Star Trek high end solutions - i can wire for them. So just asking what I should be considering for the future.

Thank you.

Dave
 

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I played the "AV wall in the basement" game this past summer. We designed a AV wall (a new wall) so I could access the back of and just ran wires. The other side of the AV wall is a storage room. Conduit is nice, but access to the back of the wall is even better.

As far as predicting the future goes, I'd say it's a safe prediction that Ethernet cables will be useful because wireless networks will continue to outperform wireless networks by a large margin. If you're putting Ethernet cables in your wall and want to future-proof as much as you can, get CAT6 (or CAT6a) cables that are rated at 500MHz or better so that they'll be able to handle higher data rates of 10Gbps. Use "solid" wires.

Some people will tell you that there is "no point in using CAT6 over CAT5e" because they don't believe that CAT6 will help you for gigabit ethernet, but this is just wrong. To quote Wikipedia:

When used for 10GBASE-T, Cat 6 cable's maximum length is 55 meters (180 ft) in a favourable alien crosstalk environment, but only 37 meters (121 ft) in a hostile alien crosstalk environment such as when many cables are bundled together. 10GBASE-T runs of up to 100 meters (330 ft) are permissible using Cat 6a.
Just understand the relationship between cable quality and maximum cable run length. 37 meters is plenty for most residential situations. If you can't get from point A to point B in your house in less than 37 meters of cable, you've got a much bigger house than mine. ;)

HDMI connectors will continue to be the defacto standard for connecting AV gear to your TV, but it's likely the spec will continue to be updated every 2-3 years.

I believe that HTPCs will continue to be useful for the knowledgeable enthusiast for a long time to come. The thing that HTPCs do better than AppleTV-style devices are:

  • Play the widest variety of video formats
  • Support both streaming video and broadcast TV (with DVR features)
  • Overcome GeoIP restrictions via VPN endpoints (no need for VPN network hardware when your OS can do the job)
  • Manage large video collections (DVD/Blu-ray rips, etc) with many high capacity storage options
That said, I don't think HTPCs will ever be a mainstream device.
 

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Conduit and Cat6 is what you need. I belong to a custom install forum and no one is using HDMI for video runs. Everything is balun based using 2 cat6 cables to transfer the data. There are some companies that are building single cat baluns but the two cat baluns are still the "norm".

With Satellite moving over to IP you are still going to need a box to decode the signal. The only difference is that the box will use an ethernet cable rather than coax to receive the signal.

Everyone in the custom field is still hoping for cat5/6 to replace HDMI and with the baluns it is pretty much there.

Another thing that a lot of installers are using is fibre. The cost is coming down for bulk wire and the data transfer rate is astronomical compared to Cat5/6.

The best way to "future proof" a house now a days is to run conduit to TV and projector locations. along with the conduit I would run at least 4 Cat6 cables.
When choosing a conduit make sure that it is at least 1 1/4" diameter and minimize the amount of bends in case you have to run an HDMI cable in it. Some companies actually make flex tube with a pull string in it and may be something to look into.

With regards to the future of computers I don't foresee it ever replacing an AV receiver/amplifier in any way. You still need something to power speakers and I don't see an AV receiver going the way of the Dodo any time soon. Data storage and media streaming/downloading is already here and will only increase and some custom companies are already taking the approach to this including HULU, Netfilx, iTunes support, rhapsody, pandora...etc into one device and which allows for expandable storage and multi user access. check out Crestron's ADMS.

There are a bunch of other companies out there that are creating something similar but aren't coming to mind at this time.
 

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This is what I did for future-proofing:

- 2 co-axial RG6 cable and 2 CAT6 to each room and most importantly to the demarc point (I had about 8 rooms/points of termination).

- 2 speaker wires and additional CAT6 to each room (the CAT6 connection is for whole house controller if you get it in the future). Also provision for an independent volume control for each room.

- in addition to above, run HDMI or two additional CAT6 cables, and optical audio cable to each family/media room/library room. Right now, I have four CAT6s running to the media room (wish I had more) - two of them used for HDMI as couldn't run the thicker HDMI cable. Also provision a conduit running from AV closet to the TV area.

- run extra CAT6 to places where you will host your HTPC or media server. (i forgot to do that - 2 CAT6 isn't enough as can use that just to make HDMI cable).

I also have 5 CCTV wires and couple of RCA / RG6 cable (for sub-woofer) all terminating to an big AV closet (it is like a hundred wires terminating there, so back of AV closet opens to different room). I've terminated everything and tested and now just need to close the closet and paint it.

Good luck.
 

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In my experience with 2 personal house builds, plus my brother's latest at the same time about 7 years ago; trying to guess and wire for the future is a waste of time and money.

I've put in multiples of whatever was the best coax and network cabling at the time, only to find that the standard has changed from, say CAT5 to CAT5E, and now to CAT6; and that you need 4 of cable x and 2 of cable y whereas you put in 3 of cable x and 3 of cable z. So you are short on what you need, and wasted your money on buying and installing what you don't. You get the idea.

The only solution is to run what you actually need now, and run a 1.5" conduit to every room in the house (well, I didn't do the bathrooms, but every living room and bedroom plus the kitchen). If it's all low voltage, then you can use central-vac tubing which is extremely cost effective, with nice wide-sweeping bends. Stick a piece of that blue&white packing twine into each conduit when you install it for use as a future fish-tape.

Just dead-end it all in the basement within the floor joists in an area that will have a tiled drop-ceiling (mine all goes to the laundry room as the theater/rec room have drywalled ceilings). If you're in a bungalow, this is even more of a no-brainer, since all you need is about 2' of tubing and a wall plate for each room - total cost of <$50 for the whole house, instead of several hundreds to over a thousand $ if you buy a couple of boxes of RG6 and CAT6.

Then in the future when CAT99z-ultra-fiber-with-liquid-nitrogen-shielding is the standard, you can install what you need of that and stop wasting time and money speculating.

Trust me, I'm speaking from experience here. You'll never get it right trying to guess now.

Cheers
The REAL Joe
 

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The argument for Cat6 over Cat5e can go on forever... A lot of people point out the specs of Cat6 vis-a-vis Cat5 but the reality is they are same except each have different tolerances (Cat6 more twists; better tolerances). Cat6 will buy you NOTHING if it's installed incorrectly. You have to pick the right cable for the installation; Cat5, Cat6, Cat5 shielded, Cat6 shielded, plenum, riser, outdoor, standard, the options are endless. For my house, I run at 1 Gbs everywhere over Cat5 *that's properly installed* (I use to install cables in a former life). I've never had a problem with noise, interference, etc. yet.

My future proofing method is as follows. Basically, run RG6 quad cable for Satellite/Sat Radio (2-3 runs; sat tv needs at least two) to a location accessible to the sky (where the sats are visable) all from a head end (location of your media panel/patch panel). Run 1-4 RG6 quad cable to each place where you want cable, sat radio, and/or component video/RCA to be (note that component RGB video cables have to be *exactly* the same length per R G B run). Run 2 x inwall speaker & 1 Cat5 to each room you want distributed audio. Run Cat5e (properly installed!) everywhere where you will have a device. This means 1-2 runs for computer/data, 2 runs for HDMI video, 1 run for misc. Basically, the head end is where all cables including telephone/cable/data terminates. Obviously, for special installs like a home theater, conduit may be necessary between the equipment rack and the projector/TV. Note that if you have such a equip. rack then run additional cables to there from the head end obviously. If your planning a security system/home automation system then there is a lot more cables (station wire, fire wire, bell wire, and Cat5e); depends on what you want.

Bottom line, you have to judge whether you will use the cable or it's only going to sit in the wall. The amount of cable above is $$$, even more so if Cat6. Letting it sit in the wall is wasted money and most likely will never be used. BTW, there's no use in putting in conduit if you are dead-ending it (aka not terminating the cables in the conduit to a box/jack/etc.) since it's the terminations that are the problem. Like telcos, it's the "last mile" problem if your talking about a finished room.

My .02 worth,
Kaoru
 

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Kaoru said:
The argument for Cat6 over Cat5e can go on forever... A lot of people point out the specs of Cat6 vis-a-vis Cat5 but the reality is they are same except each have different tolerances (Cat6 more twists; better tolerances). Cat6 will buy you NOTHING if it's installed incorrectly
Cat6 cables rated at 500MHz or better will be able to carry 10Gbps Ethernet for 121 feet, Cat5e won't. Sure, you want to correctly install whatever cable you buy. I don't think anyone was suggesting the OP should incorrectly run and terminate his Ethernet cables.

My point is that the cost difference between Cat5e and Cat6 is negligible compared to the cost/time involved of a entire wiring project. If the OP is interested in "wiring for the future" then what he doesn't want is Cat5e.
 

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At mono price, cat6 is about 30% more than cat5e - about $25 increase for 1,000 ft. in-wall.

But to the OP's point, to me "future" is very relative - relative to your habits. I tend to leapfrog an iteration or two of technology. Example, in my TV, used a Hitachi RPTV for about eight years (it's in the basement waiting for me to repair the convergence IC so it will have another life), to the LED-backlit LCD instead of older LCD. I thought I could see Sony's OLED get to reasonable price but their OLEDs seem to have stopped in their tracks.

I would suggest conduits in the places that you will not use right away, conduits + wires (cat6, RG6) in the ones that you want to use now.
 
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