Understanding factors involved in determining HDMI video and audio quality

Whilst many are led to believe that once you have purchased a HDMI cable you should only expect to see high quality audio and video rendering, the truth is that the fidelity at which your media render is played depends on a few other factors as well. Therefore, you should not be alarmed once the display is less then perfect or the audio quality is lacking, but rather analyze the cause why this occurs. So, what can interfere with the fidelity of your media playback?

Firstly, the signal source itself can be at fault. It is true that the HDMI cables work on restoring damaged or missing bit sequences using a bi-way digital data transmission. However, there is still a limit to how much the technology can repair it. Moreover, it often happens that the source of the signal, be it a DVD, Blu-Ray or satellite, does not match the type of display you are using. Of course, assuming that the signal comes in digital form, and there is no analog to digital conversion required, both when the signal is received or transmitted to the display and the hardware is a native digital device, the signal should be error-free. However, this is an ideal situation and does not always occur in practice.
Secondly, the length of the HDMI cable plays a major role on the fidelity of the playback. Considering that the bi-way signal is transmitted in an environment with little control over the impedance, the bounce-back is not always optimal. Consequentially, if the signal is not strong or the stream is missing bits, it will become even more obvious on greater lengths. Moreover, whilst the HDMI cables are advertised as being able to transmit uncompressed streams of data, the end result also depends a great deal on how scaling the image will affect picture quality. This is even more important in the case when the original signal does not match the type of display hardware destination.

In conclusion, whilst it is true that the HDMI technology is quite potent, you should not expect it to perform miracles, especially not under all circumstances. It can, in most cases, render accurate audio and video signals, but you should take into account the aforementioned factors involved in the fidelity of the playback rather than assume the cable you have purchased is of inferior quality. Of course, that does not go to say that you should expect the same performance from both low-priced and more expensive HDMI cables, but rather that you should expect that even the best one may not always produce high-end results.

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The HDMI feature that gives you total control over your home cinema system!

Whilst connecting one television set via a HDMI cable renders the CEC optional feature useless, you can notice its full potential when used in a home theatre cinema. This amazing feature makes handling all of the devices from a home cinema system easy to use and offers the best system level automation you can experience. Even though the entire process is dependable on a single pin, users will be glad to learn that the consumer electronic control option permits a bi-directional communication between the HDMI device and the display source. In addition, the feature is also able to understand other standard commands that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Whilst not until long ago users needed to press three or more buttons on the remote control in order to play a media file, nowadays thanks to the CEC features and standard commands, it is all being replaced by one button push. The one touch play option found in many HMDI devices replaces the necessity of switching on the HDMI input via an A/V receiver or any other downstream device. In addition, because the HDMI device does not need to send the power on and input further on, controlling the display source is significantly faster.

One of the greatest benefits this feature can provide a home cinema system is the remote control pass through. This option has the role of transmitting infrared signals from the remote control to areas that are out of line of sight. What is truly amazing about the remote control pass through is the fact that when the user presses the command, the signal is sent to the CEC that identifies it and passes it through to the upstream device it was addressed to. Another great feature provided by CEC, is the tuner control that allows users to perform specific commands on their remote control without having to program it according to brand standards previously.

Since people with a home cinema system do not make such an investment just to watch TV or movies, another great option of the CEC feature is the deck control. The deck control allows you to have access to the controls of a peripheral device that is connected to a display source. Moreover, users can manage the videos and photos they have in a camcorder, for instance, with the remote control without having to program it to work with the specific information associated with that device brand.

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How to shop for a HDMI cable

Because they can combine the roles of USB, video, audio, network and even power cables, it is no wonder that HDMI cables are the talk of the town for the time being. However, if you are looking to purchase such cables, then it is important to note that they cannot help you much unless the electronic devices around your home can support them. Therefore, one of the first things that you should look for in a HDMI cable is that it can support full 1080 pixel images.

Even though the vast majority of such cables you can find on the market offer 1080p support, some have only 720p HD compatibility. Consequentially, if you own a HD television set that can support the highest quality image, you would only be downgrading it. On the other hand, if you purchase a full 1080p cable and your TV cannot support that, then the picture quality would be just as good as the lowest common denominator.
Another important factor to account for when purchasing a HDMI cable is its length. It is well known that the manufacturers do not produce cables over 30 feet because the longer the cable the higher the possibility of losing data. Hence, the quality of the displayed images would be far from highest definition and quality. However, in the situation when you are trying to connect multiple HD devices, then you do not have any other choice than to measure the distance between the ports of the electronic devices. Whilst the length of the cable will also have an influence on the price, the end result is worth it.

Regardless of the length of the HDMI cable you are purchasing, one important feature to look for is the gold tipping, as it is one of the best electronic signal conductors. On a side note, you should know that even though gold tipped HDMI cables are a bit more expensive, that does not mean that they have a large quantity of gold that influences the price dramatically.

The last criteria you should account for when shopping for HDMI cables is their insulation. If you are living alone and have few people over, then you could opt for a cable with a single insulated rubber coating on the outside. However, if you have a small child, pets or like to invite friends over often, then you could choose to purchase a cable with higher end insulation to protect it from damage.

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How to connect up your devices using HDMI cables

HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface and is the state of the art cabling method that transmits an all-digital signal combined over a single HDMI cable. The transmission of the traffic is uncompressed, therefore, giving higher bandwidth. Unlike DVI (Digital Video Interface) cables, HDMI is able to transmit both audio and video, whereas DVI only supports video. This is a great advantage as one cable carries all the media, therefore, reducing the number of cables required to connect your multimedia devices. HDMI was developed to substitute DVI.

Your home theater will probably consist of a number of components around your HDTV, including a DVD player, gaming system, personal computer and audio receiver. If your devices are reasonably close together within a point-to-point connection distance of about 5 meters or less, you will be able to use standard HDMI cables to connect the devices together. This type of cable is able to transmit 1020i or 720p video streams. These are the common standards between cable and satellite decoders, more advanced DVD players and digital broadcast DVD players.

You may decide to choose a DHMI cable with additional Ethernet support. This performs the same as a standard HDMI cable but adds an additional data channel for data traffic. Having the Ethernet support capability, it is possible to network additional devices, such as your PC or laptop. Take care if you are installing high definition video systems in your car, as you will need special automotive HDMI cables. These are needed to deal with the effect of vibration and disturbance from driving over uneven surfaces as well as the extremely high temperatures that can rise in your car if it left in the full glare of the sun.
If you have bought a Blu-Ray disc player you will need to make sure that you buy the necessary high-speed HDMI cable to support video resolutions of 1080p or higher. If you are not sure which one to choose, consult with the sales assistant who sold you the Blu-Ray DVD player. Take time to locate the HDMI port on your equipment that you are planning to connect. HDMI equipment ports are always female and those on the cables are always male. On your HDTV you can have 2 or more HDMI ports. Take a note of how many you have on each piece of equipment, as this will help you plan your wiring network.

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HDMI wiring plan: Design considerations

HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface and is used to transmit high-speed uncompressed audio and video traffic between devices that support this standard. Since 2002 when HDMI 1.0 was released by a consortium of manufacturers, there have been numerous developments and enhancements. The latest major change in 2009 was HDMI 1.4 that allowed the inclusion of features such as combined HDMI Ethernet connection. This allows bi-directional transfer speeds of up to 100 megabytes between attached devices. The good news is that HDMI connections are backward compatible.This means that a HDMI 1.4 category cable can support a connection to a HDMI 1.0 device, and so on.

The ports on your HDMI enabled devices will always be female, whilst the connectors on the cables are always male. Study your HDMI equipment to make sure you attach the cable to the right port. For example, with your set top HDMI device, attach the HDMI cable to the output port and the other end to the HDMI input connector on your HDTV. Take care not to make a mistake as many devices can be found with component ports for analog signals. These look similar but are not the HDMI ports that you are looking for. Do a thorough check, particularly if you are not picking up the signal between the two devices. Make very sure that your HDMI cables are securely connected as moving the devices for cleaning or gaining access round the back could easily cause the cable to be partially removed. This will affect performance and you may, for example, receive audio but no video. If this is the case, check that the connections are secure.

You may decide to deploy your HDMI devices over a longer distance from each other. This would be the case if you plan to be able to enjoy your home theater content in different parts of the house, for example, your kitchen, living room, snug or bedroom. If this is the case, you would be sensible to centralize your multimedia players whilst distributing your viewing devices. This would be cheaper than having to purchase a complete multimedia home theater for each location. In order to do this, you must make sure that you purchase high quality category 2 cables that will be able to transmit the 1080p signal over 25 feet and 1080i signal up to 50 feet. With these cable lengths you will want to run the cable behind the walls. Make sure you have drilled a large enough hole (7/8 of an inch should be fine) to pass the HDMI cable through, and take care not to bend the HDMI cable too tight as it is more sensitive than Ethernet or electric cabling and could be damaged.

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Why the high definition signals are not a trademark of HDMI

Today, whenever you are shopping for a TV, Blu-ray player, or other electronics, you will notice the HDMI port among their specifications. Even though most people will commonly associate it with the port and the specific cable it comes with, in reality the HDMI is a set of rules and standards that allow a high definition connection between all digital devices. In addition, due to the HD in the High Definition Multimedia Interface, another common misconception is that the high definition signal is only available to this format.

One of the reasons why these two should not be confused is the fact that high definition signals usually encompass the technology behind the HDMI. The HD refers to the audio and video signals interpreted by electronic devices that determine them to convert the resolution and quality of sound to their maximum capacity. On the other hand, the HDMI is the actual cable technology that allows you to enjoy a full HD setup. Since these cables enable a transmission of 1080p resolution with a refresh rate of up to 120 HZ, a lot of voices nowadays consider the HDMI as the highest quality HD cable connection available.
The HDMI cables are considered the digital equivalent of the analogue cables, such as coaxial, radio frequency cables, or the S-video cable. With the help of the cables that incorporate the HDMI technology, you can convert the analogue signals into digital transmissions and hence, attain a higher quality image. The mechanism behind this is quite simple: because it uses transition minimized differential signaling to move data from one place to another, then it can protect it from degrading as it travels through the cable. However, for the moment, it seems that one of the main problems of the HDMI cables is that the transmission usually degrades as the length of the cable gets bigger.

The high definition broadcasting is also available though component video, VGA and DVI, which are the main formats used for computer monitors and some HDTVs. Even though the aforementioned are able to transmit a crystal clear video signal of 1080p, their main disadvantage is that they do not carry the audio signal. It is important to note that VGA and DVI are usually better than the component video cables, as, even though component video is capable of reaching the maximum resolution, it cannot transmit a full signal. Consequently, the component video cable is generally considered to have the lowest quality video signal transmission of all HD cables.

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Why HDMI is the way to go for this tech age

There are an increasing number of high definition devices on the market currently. All these aim to the production of accurate and superb picture and sound quality. However, their performance is greatly determined by the cables used for connection. The latest technology, and one increasingly being adopted by most people, is HDMI. This kind of cable has revolutionized the way video is viewed and transmitted. It was introduced to the market in 2003 but most people have only just started embracing the technology recently after seeing its multiple benefits over its counterparts. The cable was designed to be a connector that provides high digital content in a single cable.

There are several advantages that come with HDMI which make it the best option out of all connecting cables. The first advantage is the convenience and versatility. With just one cable that is able to transmit both audio and video content, you are done with all the numerous cables that come along with the other connecting cables. You can, therefore, enjoy your viewing with just one single connection. What is more, the cable allows for 8 audio channels. With a single unit connection, you are also presented with the chance to control all the components with just one remote control. With its universal interface, the cables can be used with almost very device out there, including AV television receivers and DVDs. It is also backward compatible with its front-runner, the DIV and therefore, you do not need to dispose of your DIV equipment.

The other advantage is the fact that HDMI allows for superior sound and picture quality. Since there is no conversion of the content from digital to analogue and then back to digital, there is no loss of image quality or distortion. This is because HDMI allows for an all-digital transmission, unlike the case of analogue cables. HDMI also works well with TV sets having fixed pixels, such as LCDs and Plasma TVs.  This is because it allows for the translation of the picture between the source and native screen resolution, picture for picture.

In terms of sound quality, the elimination of extra and different audio cables allows for crisp and clear audio quality. It also eliminates the noise in between the channels. HDMI also supports high resolution sound systems and formats like Dolby Digital, DTS, DVD and SACD. In a nutshell, with HDMI, you have the perfect home theatre experience.

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What does the pure uncompressed HD signal of the HDMI refer to?

Whilst it is true that the audio and video HD signal transmission of the HDMI is considered the most advanced cable technology at the moment, most people have a hard time understanding what this feature refers to. The uncompressed signal implies that the transmission signal will not be compressed any further when it passes from its source and into the HDMI cable. For the vast majority of tech fans, this analogue to digital conversion translates into a pure and undamaged signal on the HDTV or other electronic devices.

However, it seems that the encoding step of the signal seems to be left out of this equation.
The way the HDMI cables manage to transfer information from one location to the other one is by employing an innovative method of encoding known as TMDS. The TMDS encoding method can reduce the number of transitions because it only uses a single clock channel and an advanced data-encoding algorithm via its three data channels. It is important to note that while one of the twisted pair cables carries the actual signal to the source, the other cable will transmit an inverse copy of it. Consequently, when the electronic device decodes the signal, it will simply measure the difference between the input signal and its inverse and use that data to compensate for any information loss along the transmission.

One of the advantages of using an uncompressed HD signal on a HDTV or a home cinema, for instance, is that the images will be real-time. Real-time imaging is usually preferred to a compressed format mainly because there is no more delay between what the camera sees and what you receive on the TV monitor. Moreover, even though compressed files require a smaller digital bit-rate ratio, there is always the risk of adding artefacts during the compression process that will translate in a lower quality image perceived on a TV. However, in order to enjoy the clarity and quality of real-time imaging you need to ensure that all the components of the home cinema and the TV are HDMI compatible.
From a certain perspective, the high quality sound and picture displays over the regular copper wires are the result of minimized electro-magnetic interferences. However, even though they do not employ the exact mechanism of data transfer, some source-to-display baseband video formats, such as the RGB analogue component or the video component, for example, use encoding and stop compressing the signals even further.

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What are the HDMI cable uses?

The High Definition Multimedia Interface cables are high speed connectors that can transmit real time video and audio digital signals. Due to its nature, this type of digital data transmitter is commonly recommended for home theatre devices that employ high definition video displays and surround sound audio systems. The HDMI technology is integrated into one cable and it includes a copy protection that has made them the number one choice for media content providers. Since they made their first appearance on the market, the uses of the HDMI cables extended beyond the home cinema systems and nowadays, people can use them for portable devices, Blu-ray and digital DVD players as well as gaming consoles.

One of the most common HDMI cable uses is associated with the modern high definition TVs. Today, anyone that has satellite, cable or broadband internet television services will notice that his TV set includes a HDMI port in order to integrate the appropriate cable. By purchasing a HDMI cable for your HDTV you can be sure that you will have access to the truly high definition TV watching experience. The advantage that the HDMI has over analogue cables is that it provides a wide array of video and audio compatibilities and it can make the best out of the display and audio capacities of your television.

With the introduction of the HDMI 1.3c version on the market, the innovative technology of the cables can also be used for phones, camcorders, digital cameras and other small devices. The 1.3c HDMI cables can incorporate mini or micro connectors at one end and a standard-size connector at the other end, so as to allow users to connect their devices to televisions, computers or other receivers. Considering the developments in the iPhone and iPad fields, it should not come as a surprise when the HDMI cables will start replacing the micro USB cables in the near future.

Since all modern gaming consoles that have appeared on the market in the past few years allow a 1080p display, it is only normal that the HDMI cables have become a popular choice among gamers as well. Besides the full 1080p display, the HDMI cables also support the Dolby TrueHD and DTS formats, thus ensuring an amazing video and sound high definition experience. In addition, since they can easily connect gaming consoles and PCs to any modern TV with a HDMI port, gamers can use the cable to transform their high diagonal TV into their computer monitor.

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What affects image quality?

The increasing adoption of HDMI cables in place of component video and other analogue cables, like S-video and composite video, has brought much scrutiny in the performance of each. Whereas it is easily discernible and obvious that HDMI and component video outperform the rest, it is in the selecting between the two that has not yet been fully decided. It is also true that HDMI comes along with a number of advantages, including the convenience of using both audio and video components in just one cable, unlike the several audio cables you will have to get when using component video. Actually, HDMI allows you the opportunity of 8 different audio channels all in one cable. It is also true that HDMI allows for faster transmission and these and several other reasons usually lean the argument in HDMI’S favour. However, in one aspect, the argument is not so clear cut.
This is in terms of image quality. There is a little difference in the image quality from a component video when compared to a HDMI. In some cases it is hardly noticeable. This is despite the argument that since HDMI is all digital, that is it allows for transmission of the content in digital format from source to display without any conversion, it is much better. This argument has some truth in it but the difference is not reflected to such an extent to support the claim totally. This leads to the question: just what determines picture quality? There are several factors and very few are affected by the cable quality.

The first factor that affects the image quality, regardless of whether it is analogue or digital, is the source material. The source of the video could be of high quality or poor quality. From HD DVDs to the earlier versions these will determine just how good the image will be. It is pretty obvious someone watching a Blu-ray disc will be more advantaged, even when using component video, compared to another watching a low quality video even with HDMI. The same is also true for the display platform. With a HD television, you will obviously have greater image quality.

When working with television and monitors that come with fixed pixels, then you have to factor in this aspect. The higher the pixels and resolution, the better the image quality you will get. You also have to understand that there is a lot of scaling down from the source to the native format allowed with the display platform. All these factors affect image quality.

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