I I 0870 990 9000 I from £147.99

   Keene C5KDA
   Want better sound and vision on all of your TVs?
   Keene s distribution amplifier offers a solution

                                                       These days, most homes with satellite TV or digital      techniques and products to distribute signals in other
                                                       terrestrial TV also have more than one TV set.           formats and these methods are slowly gaining popularity
                                                       However, secondary TVs require either a separate         among digital TV enthusiasts.
                                             receiver for each screen (which is rather expensive,                  One of the easiest systems to implement is based on
                                             especially if it s a Sky Digital pay-TV that you re watching) or   CAT5 computer network cable and Keene was quick off the

     Product: Keene C5KDA
                                             a means to distribute the signals from the receiver to more
                                             than one TV screen.
                                                                                                                mark with a system (the CAT5 Blaster) to use that a couple
                                                                                                                of years ago. Now a simpler and cheaper system has been
                                                UHF distribution is the most commonly used technique            introduced – the C5KDA distribution amplifier.
     Price: £99.99 (C5KDA only)
     £47.00 (C5KDAR receiver only)           but there is one big problem with any UHF distribution                The CK5DA is a modular system with a single
     £189.99 (C5KDA + 2 x C5KDAR)            system – it uses UHF! Although a modulated UHF signal is           distribution amplifier unit and up to four receivers for
     £269 (C5KDA + 4 x C5KDAR)               relatively easy to send around the home and cheap to               secondary TV screens. Although it is relatively expensive
     Features: S-video or composite video
     transmission, stereo audio              service at each end of the cable, it provides the worst            (certainly far more than any UHF-based system), it has the
     transmission, infrared control return   possible quality of video onscreen. What s more, the audio         potential to pipe decent quality TV around the home.
     relay, 100m range, switchable longer    carried is also low quality and in mono only.                         The system works by using each of the four twisted
     distance line drive
                                                What Satellite & Digital TV has looked at a number of           pairs in a CAT5 cable to carry one signal in a balanced

   62 What Satellite & Digital TV March 2007

WST248.keene 62                                                                                                                                                      5/2/07 17:05:16
      format. This means that rather than send the signal as a
      voltage relative to a common earth connection, the two             Once you have your CAT5 cables in
      wires are used to carry voltages opposite to one another.
      The two wires are entirely unshielded and simply twisted          position connecting up the system
      together so that any interference picked up by one is also
      picked up by the other and they cancel each other out.            is very simple
          The other great advantage of CAT5 cable over the co-ax
      is that it s pretty cheap (about £25 for a 100m reel) and easy   Performance
      to lay around the home because it s tough and flexible. You       The performance of the CK5DA is quite extraordinary. Our
      can even buy long ready-made cables if you don t want to         unit was set up with a Sky HD box feeding an HD Ready TV
      wire up your own.                                                via the CK5DA and 50m of CAT5, and direct to the same TV.
                                                                       Of course, S-video produced a better picture than
      Build                                                            composite video but it really was quite hard to tell whether
      A CK5DA system comprises a distribution amplifier that            the signals were direct or through the CK5DA.
      converts AV signals for transmission down the CAT5 cable,           The transmission system produced almost no video
      and would normally sit near your AV equipment, and one           noise, loss of detail, edge effects or colour changes. Bright
      or more receiver units that sit at a remote TV and convert       colours are a little affected – lightening so that the likes of
      the CAT5 signals back to normal AV.                              yellows and green look a bit washed out – particularly
          The CK5DA distribution amp unit is not very impressive       when composite video is used, but the pictures are almost
      to look at, but then it s not going to be on display. It s       as sharp and clear as the originals.
      housed in a black steel case about the size of a paperback          Even comparing S-video through the CK5DA with a
      novel, and has connectors down both sides – the four RJ45        direct HDMI connection was not too damning. It really is a
      CAT5 sockets on one side and the AV inputs and power             remarkable implementation of the idea.
      socket on the other. The power supply is a separate in-the-         The audio is perhaps less impressive, if only because the
      plug type. The receiver units are small plastic cases with a     analogue audio from the Sky box isn t that brilliant in the
      single RJ45 socket and AV output sockets. The receivers          first place. Nevertheless, there are only the most marginal
      derive their power from the amplifier down the CAT5 cable.        amounts of distortion or hiss.
                                                                          The length of the cable used had little effect on the
      Setup                                                            result. Keene reckons the system is good for 100m (far
      Once you have your CAT5 cables in position (or you may be        more than any normal domestic setup will need) and have
      using a redundant computer network after upgrading to            included a line drive switch to boost high frequencies on
      wireless), connecting up the system is very simple. The AV       longer runs. When the units were tested with a half-used
      source is connected to the amplifier s S-video socket for         reel of CAT5 cable – about 150m in length – there was little
      video and the two phono socket for the audio input. If your      noticeable additional degradation, and the line drive facility
      source does not produce S-video (Sky+ receivers do but           probably did more harm than good.
      standard Digiboxes don t) then a short adapter cable allows         The IR relay also works well, although the emitter is on a
      a composite video signal to be connected to the S-video          short cable (only about 1m) and is quite difficult to position
      socket.                                                          where it can reliably trigger the equipment.
          At the secondary TV, the receiver unit has the same
      connections (again, a composite adapter can be used if           Conclusion
      required) for the TV and then the CAT5 cable connects the        For a simple distribution of a TV signal to multiple screens
      two units.                                                       about the home, the CK5DA system is hard to beat. The
          This is repeated for up to three more receiver units and     quality of pictures (and sound) is excellent and it s easy to
      remote TVs, the power supply is plugged into the amplifier        set up and transparent in use.
      and away you go. Pictures and sound delivered to the                The emitter cable could be longer, Scart connections
      amplifier are sent to all the TVs.                                would make setup easier and, of course, it would be nice to
          Each receiver unit also has a socket for a remote eye        have some form of remote signal selection. However, the
      infrared receiver (a relatively large unit) and the amplifier     system is not cheap as it stands so anything that would
      connects to a small IR emitter so commands from a remote         increase the price would be counterproductive.
      handset used at a secondary TV are relayed backwards                As it is, anyone wanting quality TV signals routed around
      down the CAT5 cable to the amplifier and to the AV                the home can certainly achieve that with the CK5DA I
      equipment.                                                       Geoff Bains

                                                                        (Far left) The C5KDA system can be used to distribute
                                                                                                                                        I Excellent performance
                                                                        audio and video signals to up to four TV screens from a
                                                                                                                                        I Transparent in use
                                                                        single source, or a connected AV switch, using cheap
                                                                        Ethernet cable.                                                 MINUS
                                                                                                                                        I No source switching I Quite
                                                                        (Middle) The receiver units can output composite video          expensive
                                                                        instead of an S-video signal using an adapter, but you          BUILD       ##########
                                                                        can t convert output S-video if only composite has been         SETUP       ##########
                                                                        supplied to the input. It also supplies stereo audio.           EASE OF USE ##########
                                                                        (Left) A remote eye receiver works in conjunction with
                                                                                                                                        VALUE       ##########
                                                                        the receiver s IR emitter to relay remote commands back
                                                                        to the source.                                                                            Verdict
                                                                                                                               March 2007 What Satellite & Digital TV 63

WST248.keene 63                                                                                                                                                   5/2/07 17:05:19

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