An alternative to optical interconnects is to use Datacom technology to convert video to data bits and run it over Ethernet or HDBaseT cabling in a local area network (LAN). This offers several benefits: the convenience of having video streams as digitally accessible IP resources; the relative low cost of networking gear; and the improved deployment model associated with installing copper networking cables (or category cabling) in advance of the AV deployment. But there are downsides to this approach as well.
Real 4K features require an 18Gbps capable link. IP-based solutions can’t compress 18Gbps down to 10G or 1Gbps to fit into copper network cables without throwing away video data and creating other trade-offs such as latency. Customers must now carefully parse manufacturer specifications to know whether or not they are getting 18Gbps uncompressed or if they are having to make sacrifices.
If “visually lossless” were the same, they would proudly advertise it as being more efficient instead of hiding it deep in their datasheets, if showing it at all.
There are several ways that vendors try to gloss over the shortcomings of Video over IP solutions. Terms like “visually lossless” are subjective in nature – while there is such a thing as true “lossless compression”, the term “visually lossless” means that the vendor subjectively believes that most viewers will not notice the loss of half the video data. Often finding the actual transmission performance specifications requires digging through complex datasheets or seeking help from online forums.
Reducing the maximum allowable frame rate from 60fps (60Hz), which can create motion artifacts.
Limiting the 4:4:4 color schema to a subsampled 4:2:0, which throws away half of the image data.
Losing high dynamic range (HDR), which takes away the deep contrast that makes current display technology so incredible.
Compressing the 4K signal, which throws away signal data and can create latency issues.
Video over IP is a satisfactory solution for deploying 1080p, but 4K video exceeds the limits of copper transmission technology. The concept at its core is not a bad idea, but in order to implement 4K Video over IP without performance trade-offs, advocates would need to implement an expensive 40G IT infrastructure that is currently being used in huge datacenters like Facebook, Amazon, and Google for which these companies made the transition to fiber at 10G.