Learn more about HDMI Cables
We used to have three different cables to attach our audio-video equipment to other devices in earlier times. However, as technology progressed, things started to change. Today, if you want to connect an audio-video device to a display, you can do it with a single cable known as an HDMI Cable.
Whether you are working in the office or staying at home and watching online shows on the television, an HDMI cable has been a requirement for all that. Also, it doesn't matter if you are a gamer or photographer; everyone basically needs an HDMI cable to connect their devices to the external displays. And while other cables and methods exist in the market today, it still feels pretty convenient for us to use the high-speed HDMI wire.
What is an HDMI Cable? What is their purpose?
An HDMI Cable is basically a simple - yet complicated - cable that you can use to connect a multimedia device to a display. HDMI stands for High-Speed Multimedia Interface, which provides an interface between a source device and the display.
If you want to connect your desktop computer to a display, you will need one of these cables. If you want to connect one of the newer generation gaming consoles, you will need an ultra-high-speed version of these cables. If you even want to connect an external display to your camera, you will still need this. So, if you need to connect a display, you will need one of the ultra-high-speed cables that can transfer display signals - and that's what an HDMI cable does.
While there is an ongoing change in the Tech Industry - where some devices and displays have started supporting Thunderbolt 3 technology for connecting display - it is still not commonly seen in the market. Also, when we think about the previous generation tech out in the market, we will realize that the HDMI cables still serve a great purpose.
Keep these things in mind while buying an HDMI Cable!
When you search for some new HDMI cables, it might become a little difficult to decide which cable to go for. There are some cheaper HDMI Cables on one end - while there are more expensive HDMI cables on the other hand. And when we start to look out, we really start wondering if some HDMI Cables are that much different than other HDMI cables.
Well, there are quite a few differences that you will need to look at before making a purchase decision - even for a simple HDMI Cable.
HDMI Specification or HDMI Version
If you just started looking for a new HDMI cable, you might be feeling that all the cables are just the same - and they don't have any difference between them. But well, that's not the case. One of the most important and hidden things about any HDMI Cable is the HDMI Specification or the HDMI Version Number.
An organization named - HDMI Licensing Administrator LLC - is currently handling the licensing for the HDMI Specification. Also, it promotes the HDMI technology while also marketing the benefits these cables can have.
If you go with some of the lower-end HDMI cables, you might notice that they are not high-speed cables - and don't even support higher resolutions. It is because these cables cannot support and transmit those high-level HDMI Signals. If you need to transmit an HDMI signal to the higher resolution display, you will need to have one of the latest generations of HDMI Cables. As of today, HDMI 2.1 is the latest generation of technology for these cables.
Length of the HDMI Cable
This is one thing that you will need to decide on before looking for an HDMI Cable. The cable length requirement will need to be decided by you based on the use cases you plan to use the cable for.
If you want to connect your television to a cable box, you must measure or estimate how much distance would be there between those two pieces of equipment. Once that is done, you can easily select one of the several HDMI cables available in the market. Usually, if you want to connect a smaller external display to your camera, we would suggest going for medium-size or shorter cables - as such cables won't come in the way of your shooting.
Size and type of HDMI Cable
HDMI Cables are mainly available in three different sizes. The one regularly found in almost all major devices is the Type-A HDMI - and well, that's the one we know as the regular HDMI. There's also Type-C HDMI - which is the Mini HDMI. Such a cable can be used with smaller and compact devices like a DSLR - as it has a flatter style pin connector.
There's one other cable size that is being used in even smaller computers like the Raspberry Pi - and that's the micro-HDMI cables. Also, some of the DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras have started using this smaller style new cables to transfer the audio-video signals to the external monitor.
We will need to talk about a couple of things regarding the connector style of the HDMI Cables. One of the important things is the angles these premium high-speed cables connect at. When you are looking to use these cables in a particular situation - especially near the wall, it becomes difficult to plug in a straight cable as one won't get the grip to do that. However, when you get a right-angled cable, things would become way easier.
In the same way, if you need to connect these cables to PC Video Cards, you don't need to worry much as even the straight cables would get the job done. However, having a right-angled connector might still be better with PCs to reduce the gravitational pull that a cable would face during its lifetime.
One more thing that is important to note here would be the plating of the connectors. While the normal plated ones can get the job done, having a gold-plated HDMI cable doesn't hurt. The gold plating on the cable connector is less likely to rust and would likely last you longer than a normal one.
Reliability and Durability
The reliability and durability of any electronic gadget - including the cables - are important. These cables might just be sitting in weird locations inside the cabinet to make the aesthetics of your place look great. While sitting in weird locations, there can be a much greater chance of failure for these high-speed cables. And to avoid that, the durability and reliability of these cables need to be considered before making a purchase decision.
When we buy an HDMI cable for the first time, it is essential to get a better cable. Better cables can not only provide better video and sound quality - but they can also offer better durability and reliability. If you invest in a good cable, you will likely use the same cable even after changing multiple devices. So, you can see the benefits of a better cable in long-term usage.
Frequently Asked Questions
There's a decent chance that you might have been in a situation where the HDMI cable you bought might not support the full capability of the source device. This can especially happen with a gaming console - as they now support a high dynamic range with higher resolutions and refresh rates.
So, choosing a good cable becomes essential - and you might have questions before choosing one. But don't worry much. We got you covered as we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the HDMI Cables. If you got a question, we got an answer.
Is there a difference in HDMI Cables?
The simple answer here would be - Yes.
So, while there are differences between different HDMI Cables and their capabilities, it isn't like they will provide you with an internet connection without having any separate ethernet cable. The difference isn't that big to add to the HDMI Cable's overall functions - but they are still worth examining.
With the different HDMI Cables, there will be different HDMI Versions - that would decide on the overall sound quality of an audio track - whose signal would be passing through the Apple TV. Not only that, but there will also be differences between the lengths of the cable and even the size, type, and connector style of the cable.
Alongside all these differences, different cables will have different durability and reliability. Also, not all HDMI cables are backward compatible. So, if you want to connect an older device while using the newer devices, you will need to check on the Backwards Compatibility.
Active HDMI Cable v/s Passive HDMI Cable - Which one is better?
Well, you can decide the answer to this based on your needs.
If you need an HDMI cable that can transmit signals over a longer distance, you should go for an active cable. Active cables are actually used to transmit signals over a longer distance. They have a built-in processor that helps amplify those transmission signals by acting as a signal booster. Also, active cables can only send the signal in one direction as the other end needs to be plugged into a power supply unit.
However, if you need to transmit signals over a shorter distance, getting a passive cable would get the job done for you. With the shorter distance transmission, you don't need a major power supply or even the processor's power to boost signals. Hence, passive cables would use the power supply from the source device to get the job done.
Do high-speed HDMI cables make any difference?
Yes, they do make a difference - under certain circumstances.
If you only want to watch the videos or stream from your gaming console in 1080p, then the majority of the HDMI cables would easily get your job done. However, if you need to look at a better video image quality using the higher resolution that your source device is capable of, you should be getting a high-speed HDMI cable.
Also, not all HDMI Cables support a higher refresh rate - so if you need that, a high-speed HDMI cable is what you should go for. So, you will again need to select one based on your needs.
Are HDMI-enabled devices required to attach a high-speed HDMI Cable?
Definitely - Yes.
Most devices would already come with an HDMI port that you can use to connect these cables to. Sometimes, if they don't, they might support it via a USB-C port. However, there are a few rare cases where you might not directly use the Type-C port for connecting it to the display. In such cases, a USB Hub with HDMI compatibility would typically solve it. So, make sure that your device or the hub is HDMI compatible before making a purchase decision.
Do I need a 4K HDMI cable?
If we are answering about needs, you will be the best person to answer this question.
If you have one of the higher-end devices that supports 4K or 8K resolutions - and if you have a display that supports this resolution, it might be worth investing in. However, if you are fine with the lower 1080p resolution and don't want to push your device anymore, we recommend not having one.
Can regular HDMI Cables handle 4K Video?
The simple answer is - No.
Not all cables are manufactured to handle higher resolutions. Even if you have a capable source device and a capable display, not having a 4K-capable HDMI cable would limit you to a lower resolution. So, a regular HDMI cable that doesn't have 4K support won't handle a 4K video.
Are expensive HDMI cables worth it?
Again, this would highly depend on your needs.
If you need an HDMI cable for an external monitor on your camera, you can get away by spending less - by investing in a small Micro HDMI 30cm Angled Cable by Atomos. The same will apply if you are comfortable with lower resolution image quality. However, if you need the technology's bleeding edge, going for an expensive HDMI cable that supports it all would be worth it.
HDMI Cables are important when we talk about anything related to external displays. Purchasing one out of the ocean of HDMI cables can be a difficult task. However, we believe that you will easily make a great purchase decision with so much information available here. If you still have any questions or need personalized advice, feel free to reach out to one of our Gear Guides. They will always be happy to help you out.