The HDMI cables come in a few different versions, but quite often, the manufacturers label their HDMI cables differently and quite often misleadingly. If you need an HDMI cable for your home setup, then a decent quality cable should work just fine and there is rarely a need to spend a few hundred pounds on the cable alone. The only exception could be when you need to use an extra long cable and connect two devices, which are more than 10 meters apart. In such case, you can use boosted HDMI cables or use two or more regular cables and chain them with the help of an extender.
If you walk into almost any electronics shop or get online, you are likely to see cables that cost hundred pounds and more and often, these cables are labeled as “ultra high speed,” “super-speed,” or anything similar, indicating that they are superior to the regular cables. This is far from the truth as the HDMI cables come in standard and high, also known as Category 1 and Category 2, and these are still regular HDMI cables. The Categories were introduced with HDMI 3, and Category 1 cables are tested with 742.5 Mbps/channel, while the Category 2 are tested with 1.65 and 3.4 Gbps per channel. The creation of the Category 2 cables was necessary so higher frame rates and deep color can be accommodated, and they are labeled as Standard and High Speed respectively. Any other labeling is prohibited by the HDMI Licensing and is deemed misleading.
Since the HDMI interface is evolving, the cables also came out in different versions – the latest one is HDMI 4 and it was released in May 2009. However, HDMI Licensing has decided that the cables will no longer be labeled with their versions and also have advised equipment manufacturers to no longer specify the HDMI version that their products support. Although this is done in order to avoid confusing the consumers, it introduces its own sets of problems. For most consumers, the versions are not entirely important and as long as you do not need an Audio return channel or Ethernet channel, then you do not have to buy an HDMI 1.4 cable. If you want to find out what category the HDMI cables that you intend to buy are, then ask for the vendor’s compliance certificate. It should show if the cable is Category 1 or Category 2 and at what length of the cable at which it was tested.