How to Choose HDMI Cables
The emergence of HDMI cables has redefined the way people consume multimedia content. By making a single cable capable of handling both audio and visual data, HDMI cables have simplified the A-V systems and today, HDMI is the new norm for high-definition home theater systems, DVD players, Blu-ray players, DVRs, computers, and gaming consoles. However, to enjoy a truly spectacular multimedia experience, you will need to choose HDMI cables wisely. There are quite a few parameters to consider but that is no reason to stick to the analog cables!
Given below are the features to consider when buying HDMI cables.
HDMI cables come in various types. Your choice will be dictated by whether you want Ethernet connectivity or not and the level of video resolution you want the cable to support. The following are the five types of HDMI cables:
This is the most basic type of HDMI cable and support video resolution requirements of most home-based entertainment systems. This cable can support video with 1080i or 720p resolution and thus is ideal for use with HD-compatible cable and satellite televisions, sophisticated DVD players, and almost any type of HD content broadcasted over a digital medium.
HDMI Standard with Ethernet
The HDMI Standard (with Ethernet) cable has all the features of a HDMI Standard cable and additionally contains a dedicated channel to facilitate bi-directional device networking at high speeds. This is the HDMI Ethernet Channel and the technology consolidates different types of data streams into a single HDMI cable to provide both convenience and flexibility to the home entertainment system user. However, this configuration only works if both the devices linked by the HDMI cable are HDMI Ethernet Channel-compatible.
HDMI High Speed
This cable currently provides the highest bandwidth available on a HDMI medium and can admirably transmit video signals with resolutions more than 1080i or 720p. The HDMI High Speed cable can also successfully handle signals with enhanced color depth and increased refresh rates generated at a source such as a Blu-ray disc player. This cable can also support sophisticated video technologies like 4K and 3D. These cables can be linked to high resolution displays like WQXGA cinema screens that have resolutions of 2560 x 1600 pixels.
This offers all the advantages of a HDMI High Speed cable and additionally provides Ethernet connectivity. A dedicated HDMI Ethernet Channel consolidates audio, video, and other data signals into one cable and enables bi-directional device networking at phenomenal speeds of up to 100 Mb/second.
HDMI Standard Automotive
Although this cable does not support HDMI Ethernet Channel, it can transmit videos with resolutions of up to 1080i or 720p. This cable is used to connect external HDMI-compatible devices with in-vehicle HDMI-enabled devices. Genuine HDMI cables come labeled to help you make an apt choice.
You may be forgiven for wondering (and wishing) if a discussion on HDMI cables can be free of jargons! HDMI is a comparatively recent and a still-evolving technology. So unfortunately, you will have to wade through this sea of terms and lingos before you can zero in on the right cable. On the other hand, this knowledge will ensure that the retailer does not cheat you by taking advantage of your naivety.
HDMI cables come in different versions:
- HDMI 1.3: The HDMI 1.3 version of the cable is a significant improvement over its predecessor. It offers increased bandwidth of up to 340 MHz and a maximum bit rate of 10.2 GB/second. This enables lightning fast transmission of signals between the linked devices and makes for superior visual and auditory experiences. This cable also provides support for the Deep Color format, a standard that supports a wider color spectrum of more than a billion colors. Additionally, this cable version can support the “xvYCC” color spectrum—a space that contains 1.8 times the color information packed in an erstwhile HDTV signal. So if you choose select a HDMI 1.3 cable, you are actually future-proofing your purchase.
- HDMI 1.2a: This version of the HDMI cable contains features that support remote control functionality.
- HDMI 1.2: This version of the HDMI cable enhanced the multi-channel audio support that was available with its predecessor. The HDMI 1.2 cable can support multi-channel one-bit audio formats such as Super Audio CD (SACD) and is also compatible with HDMI connectors on board personal computers.
- HDMI 1.1: This HDMI cable version is an improvement over its earlier version and features support for multi-channel audio. The HDMI 1.1 cable is thus compatible with DVD-Audio with up to 5 channels.
- HDMI 1.0: This is the original HDMI cable that can support videos with resolutions of up to 1080i but only two-channel audio data.
- The HDMI 1.3 cable can also support highly compressed but lossless audio formats like Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master AudioTM.
- While browsing the store shelves or online shops, you may come across HDMI cable versions 1.3a and 1.3b. But do not ponder too much over their specs—they are no different from the HDMI 1.3 cable when it comes to their functionalities and features.
- HDMI 1.4: The HDMI 1.4 cables have an Ethernet Channel apart from all the baseline features of its predecessors. Now to allay your doubts, it is worth mentioning that every new and improved version of the HDMI cable is backward compatible with older versions of equipment. So if you have bought a HDMI 1.3 cable, you can rest assured in the knowledge that it will work perfectly well with your HDMI audio-visual equipment version 1.1. However, if you have a 3D TV, then you will need to buy high speed cables and no lower than version 1.3. A 3D signal is equivalent to two 1080p signals and thus needs cables with a higher bandwidth.
The above-mentioned discussion makes clear that you really do not need to buy the most advanced or the most expensive HDMI cable that is available in the market place. The most basic type of HDMI cable can also deliver an admirable performance with your HD gear. Your purchase should actually be dictated by your specific needs.