BZBGEAR Backing 8K in Switchers, Cables, Cameras and More
BZBGEAR is a member company of the 8K Association and came along to take part with and support the Association at the recent successful CEDIA Expo in Denver. (look here if you missed the report on the panel session on 8K at the event) We caught up via Zoom with Eilbron Khoshabeh to understand more about what the firm is doing to develop its 8K product range.
BZBGEAR aims to sit across the broadcast and AV markets, delivering a wide range of products for both professionals and higher end consumer. In these markets high quality and long life are key considerations. The firm works with installers, hence the attendance at Cedia although it also attends NAB, IBC, ISE and other shows. At the moment, its main 8K products are in splitters and matrix switchers. It can go from 1 x 2 to 8 x 8 matrix switches and enables a high degree of future-proofing. When customers are investing in installation products and services, it’s really important to give a long life with an element of ‘future proofing’. The firm has a whole section devoted to 8K products on its website. https://bzbgear.com/products/8k-compatible-devices/ Since Covid it has seen a lot of interest from gamers in using better switchers to support multiple devices.
Fiber is a Real Alternative
One of the topics that we discussed was the development of fiber as a practical alternative to copper for signal distribution. These days, Khoshabeh told us, fiber can be cheaper than high quality Cat 6 copper cables and practical issues, such as termination and damage from tight bending, have been solved. The weight is less and the smaller physical size makes life easier for installers.
Termination can be easily done ‘in seconds’ and the latest cable is very flexible – “You can tie it and it still works”, he explained. Once you are into the realm of Fiber, there are no real limits on the kind of resolution and video quality that you can move around. Of course, there are some applications where copper is still needed, for example where you want to send power as well. The firm also supplies HDMI Active Optical Cables (AOCs) that connect to HDMI outputs. HDMI can usually (but not always) supply power to a converter that acts as the transceiver to the optical domain. That conversion can enable extremely long HDMI connections and BZBGEAR can supply cables that will also allow bidirectional transmission of IR signals for remote control support.
The firm also supports HDBaseT but at the moment, HDBaseT only supports up to 18 Gbps, so is limited to 4K60 with 4:4:4 sub-sampling. BZBGEAR has introduced a new 8K extender that leverages HDBaseT 3.0 technology. This extender incorporates an additional chip that compresses 8K signals to 4K, allowing them to pass through the 18Gbps limit of HDBaseT. Upon reaching the other end, the signal is seamlessly, he said, decompressed back to its original 8K quality.
BZBGEAR has recently unveiled a new HDMI 2.1 over fiber extender featuring a 2-way IR function. The extender supports 8K@60Hz (or 4K@120Hz) signals for distances of up to 300 meters (1,000 ft) using a single strand LC fiber cable. This product is intended to be used where you need to transmit signals to remote locations.
Using 8K supported cables in broadcasting and post-production addresses several concerns encountered when using 12G SDI and DisplayPort cables, Khoshabeh explained. First, the adoption of 8K cables offers a more cost-effective alternative, as they tend to be more budget-friendly and cost savings can be significant when deploying extensive cable networks. Additionally, compatibility issues become less prominent with 8K cables, as they are designed to support the latest high-resolution standards. This versatility is aimed at simplifying the integration of 8K into existing workflows, leading to smoother operations, reduced downtime and lower cost.
BZBGEAR develops PTZ cameras for professional applications including broadcast, medicine and worship. (We noted while writing this article that its BG-ADAMO-JR 1080p live streaming PTZ camera with tally lights has been chosen as a finalist for an industry award). The company is looking to develop its PTZ cameras up to 8K in 2024, but is finding some challenges in sourcing high enough quality optics for this application. The company likes to be able to offer up to 25X zoom and that can mean challenges for the autofocus. However, there is a clear need for this kind of solution in broadcast, where scaling and cropping can be used to create lower resolution feeds, and in sports venues. HD is now on the decline, Khoshabeh said, with studios adopting more and more UltraHD/4K technology, although the higher resolution is still only typically 20% of studio installations.
The demand for higher quality for Zoom and other online services is pushing resolution although 4K is currently the limit in this kind of application. Medical applications are definitely an area for promoting higher resolutions and an advantage of that market is that it is relatively open to higher prices than some others. Other markets for the firm include scientific and production monitoring.
At Cedia, BZBGEAR was also showing its 8K signal generators and analyzer in operation and Khoshabeh reported that there was considerable interest in using it from a range of different industry players. The 48Gbps device will be available in Q4 of this year.