While most of us know well what HDMI cables are and look like, very few know that HDMI is far more than that. It specifies a number of rules that all HDMI-compliant equipment and manufacturers have to follow, aiming at making setting up a home theater system and connecting different pieces of sources and displays easy. The interface has gone through a number of versions and is keeping at pace with the development in the video and audio technology. In fact, the HDMI 1.4 not only supports virtually all PC and TV video formats, but also the most widely used audio codecs and formats as well. It also comes with features, not yet present in any equipment, but likely to be available in the devices, released in the next few months or years.
The TVs progressed from older TV sets, using the standard 4:3 format to the HDTVs, which have 16:9 native aspect ratio, faster refresh rate, and more pixels. This means that the newer HDTVs need more data, which data needs to be transferred from the source such as HD DVD players, Blu-ray player, set-top box, etc. and if this data is transferred digitally, then the display does not need to convert it. The HDMI cables meet these high bandwidth requirements and they could make quite a bit of a difference in home theatre setups. HDMI 1.4 comes with 4K × 2K resolution, DTS-HD Master Audio, and Dolby TrueHD support and it will work with virtually every setup, as long as all devices are HDMI enabled. Typically, when using HDMI cables problems could arise only if one of the devices is not HDMI-ready, when trying to watch HDCP locked content, or when trying to use very long cable. HDMI offers HDCP support, but in order to be able to watch HDCP content, the display needs to be HDCP-compliant as well. When it comes to the cables’ length, if you are trying to use cable longer than 10 meters, you might run into problems. In such case, you should look into buying active HDMI cables (with internal boosters) or purchase a repeater and chain two or more HDMI cables.
Most consumers of not need to know how the HDMI cables and devices work and they do not really have to. As long as you are connecting HDMI ready equipment like Blu-ray disk players, set-top boxes, or HD DVD players to your HDTV, you are likely to simply plug in all the cables, turn the sources and the TV on, and enjoy perfect video and sound!