HDMI cables, the "omni-compatible" connectivity solution developed through the collaboration between Hitachi, Matsushita, Philips, Sony, Thomson and several other giants of the electronics industry back in 2002 have advanced greatly over the years.
These cables are now used in lieu of component cables, thanks to their superior capabilities of translating uncompressed, high quality sound and video information from the source to the output. Whether you are connecting your X-Box to the plasma TV or a projector to a Blu-ray player, the "right" HDMI cable ensures crystal clear picture and sound quality across the board.
Does more expensive always translate to be better in the case of HDMI cables?
In theory, a highly expensive HDMI cable should be able to provide superior quality for the information it transmits between the input and output, increased longevity, resilience to wear and tear or mechanical factors, so on and so forth. However, in practice, although you have invested a lot more – sometimes over $100 – you may never actually get to enjoy the full potential of your shiny new HDMI cable. The trick here is to ensure that the capability of the HDMI cable does not exceed the electronics that it connects.
Categories of HDMI cables
Currently, you can select between category 1 and category 2; the difference between the two types of HDMI cables consists primarily of the transfer speed each one is able to achieve, as following:
- Category 1: 76 Megahertz
- Category 2: 320 Megahertz
The transfer speed is relevant because it determines the maximum resolution of the output's display. To put it simply, while the former category goes up to 720p or 1080i, the latter enables you to render 1080p. Evidently, if you don't own a high res monitor or television – E.G. WQXGA – then you won't notice any difference, meaning that investing in a cat 2 HDMI cable is essentially an exercise in futility.
Determining the optimal length
It is necessary to point out that the nature of the data transmission – mainly the lack of compression – mandates that a HDMI cable that exceeds 6 feet has to be equipped with extra shielding, making it substantially more expensive. Therefore, it is highly advisable to find a way to place the signal source and the output within a distance of less than 6 feet rather than purchase a longer cable in this case.
The "deep color" feature
Although it might cost a bit more, ensuring that the HDMI cable you want to buy incorporates deep color capabilities will enable you to enjoy the full array of tones that the video source and the output can provide. Otherwise, the quality and clarity of the image will be less than ideal.
Locking methods and the gold plating
Numerous self proclaimed experts support the theory that the role of the gold plating is to improve data transfer and consequentially, enhance the picture quality. However, the truth is that the gold plating only brings the advantage of a greater lifespan, because this particular metal is not susceptible to tarnishing. In regards to the locking method, it is also highly recommended to purchase a cable that includes a secure one in order to avoid accidental damage to the connector pins and the input.
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