Different Types of HDMI Cables and their uses

Different Types of HDMI Cables and their uses

Different Types of HDMI Cables: What Do They Do and Is It Worth It?

The HDMI cable is rapidly becoming the standard connection for HD devices. Be it your TV, Blu-ray player or Xbox, they all have an HDMI input. So, what’s the difference between a 50-cent piece of wire and a $30 dollar cable?

In the most technical sense, HDMI cables of equal length and quality will perform identically. However, there are a number of features that some cables have that other do not, or at least might. If you plan to run HDMI cables over long distances, pay particular attention.

Standard HDMI (Type A)

This is the “normal” HDMI cable, one that you’ll probably be using. It has 19 pins and does everything an HDMI cable needs to do. It’ll support 1080p high-definition video and 7.1 surround-sound audio, and transmit all of it through one cable.

Premium High Speed HDMI Cable (Type A)

This is a standard HDMI cable with a little more oomph in the specs. While it can’t carry a heavier load than the standard cable, it does have a thicker wire for better conductivity. It can also carry an Ethernet connection if you need to hook your TV up to the internet.

Premium High Speed with Ethernet HDMI Cable (Type A)

This is, as you may have guessed, the same as the premium high speed, but it also includes an Ethernet connection.

High Speed HDMI Cable (Type A)

This is another standard HDMI cable, but it can handle 3D video and 4K resolutions (although you’ll probably be using another connection to get 4K working). It may say “high speed” on it, but it can’t handle the same throughput as a premium high-speed cable.

High Speed with Ethernet HDMI Cable (Type A)

Again, this is a high-speed HDMI cable with an added bonus: Ethernet.

Ultra-High-Speed HDMI Cable (Type A)

I’m just going to go ahead and quote the HDMI organization on this one: “The Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable was designed to support the requirements of new products such as 3D television, 4K resolution displays and other products that require HDMI’s most demanding performance, providing connection to these products at up to 340 MHz’s”

That’s quite a cable. It’ll do everything the other cables will do, but it’ll do everything faster. It’s also expensive. If you’re buying this cable, you’ve probably got some pretty high standards.

High Speed with Ethernet and Audio Return HDMI Cable (Type A)

This is a high-speed cable with Ethernet and an audio return. Audio return, where the sound from your TV is carried back down the cable, is used in some home theater setups.

Premium High Speed with Ethernet and Audio Return HDMI Cable (Type A)

This is the same as the one above, but it also adds an audio return.

Ultra-High Speed with Ethernet and Audio Return HDMI Cable (Type A)

And again, the same as the one above, but faster.

Gold Plated HDMI Cable (Type A)

This cable has the same basic specs as the standard HDMI cable, but it has gold-plated connectors. It also costs more than twice as much.

Some of the cables within these various groups will also have a “shielded” version, which is good for keeping noise from nearby components from interfering with the signal. You’ll probably never run into this problem, but then again you don’t have to spend extra for the cable.

Don’t go overboard on the HDMI cable purchase. They’re all basically the same, with two caveats: If you need the ultra-high-speed cables to handle 4K resolutions, go for it. If you need to run a long distance and you don’t want to mess with fiber or power-line networking, premium high speed will do you fine.

Differences between HDMI cables.

Shielded Cable: This is a common feature for most cheap HDMI cables and can sometimes be found on the more expensive ones. The shield is a braided wire placed around the outside of the HDMI cable, usually in between two layers of plastic, which acts as a type of electromagnetic shielding. This is to stop interference from other cables and electronic devices.

Different Types of HDMI Cables

Ethernet Channel: Ethernet ports are being added to most, if not all modern TVs and many Blu-ray players. This allows your device to use the internet without needing a separate cable running from your router to your device. This is done via a small chip that sits between the HDMI cable and the regular data pins, and means you can connect your TV or Blu-ray player to the internet wirelessly, saving you time and hassle. However, the Ethernet channel only works if the TV or Blu-ray player you’re using it on has an ethernet port, plus your router needs to support this feature.

Length: A common issue with HDMI cables is that the longer they are, the more likely it is for data to be lost or corrupted. This is not due to the actual cable, but rather the connectors on each end. These can be prone to oxidization when in contact with moisture or when bent too much. To solve this, you can either buy a really long HDMI cable and make sure you don’t bend it at all, or buy a “high quality” HDMI cable, which have better connectors that are more resistant to oxidation.

Is It Worth It?

While the differences between HDMI cables, in terms of performance is negligible, many companies will tell you that spending $100 on a 2-meter cable is necessary. If you’re looking for an ultra-cheap solution to your HDMI cable needs, then yes, there are cheaper options. If you’re willing to spend a little money and want a cable that will last and actually do something, then yes, it is worth it.

Mini HDMI (Type C)

Mini HDMI (Type C) is a small, thin connector designed to be used on smaller portable devices. It first came out on some Nokia cellphones in 2007, but it has since become popular with other devices like the GoPro action camera.

Micro HDMI (Type D)

Like the mini-HDMI, micro-HDMI (Type D) is using on small devices. It first appeared on some Sony Xperia smartphones in 2012 and is now popular on many handheld camcorders.

Summary

Although the HDMI standard is a great way to transmit data, they can become expensive for some people. If you have a device that doesn’t quite have the power to run 4K resolution, there’s no real need to buy a cable that supports it and If you’re not sure if your device has HDMI support, look at the back/side of it and see if there is a small oval port surrounded by a thin metal ring. If it does, then congratulations! It’s an HDMI port and you can buy any old HDMI cable. If it doesn’t, well… I’m sorry.

The point is: DON’T GO BUYING EXPENSIVE CABLES WITHOUT KNOWING FOR SURE THAT YOUR DEVICE SUPPORTS IT.

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