HDMI cables and speed

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.

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Locking HDMI cables

The HDMI cables are widely used and are the cables of choice when it comes to connecting equipment for almost any home theater. The HDMI interface support all TV and PC video formats and most audio formats and codecs, ensuring perfect video and audio quality. The few issues, which arise when using the HDMI cables are mainly due to using non-HDMI enabled equipment or using HDMI cables, which are too long.

If you have just purchased a new Blu-ray player and you want to connect it to your plasma TV, then all you have to do is run a cable from the player to the TV, turn both on, and you are done. However, there are times when the cables are simple falling out of the sockets, where they are plugged in and this is actually more common when using the higher grade and thicker HDMI cables. The problem has been spotted by the manufacturers too and they have come up with various solutions and started offering cables, which have locks that keep them to the sockets.

Blue Echo came up with hd EZ Lock for their HDMI cables, which is the only universal locking mechanism and which works by attaching to a chassis. Once attached, the cable will not be accidentally unplugged or become loose, and the lock is designed in such a way that the cable or the input are unlikely to be damaged. Another solution available on the market is the Connector Lock from Lindy, which has been designed to work with their own HDMI cables. This connector is quite ingenious, it encloses the end of the HDMI connector, and has a built-in screw, which allows the cable to be attached to most of the HDMI plates. The Ottovonmo’s locking HDMI cables are another set, which are perfect for consumers, who want their cables to stay firmly plugged in. The cables have a locking mechanism, which has to be disengaged before the cable can be unplugged. PolarCreative sell their own locking cables, which are well within the HDMI specification and use sliding sleeve to lock the pins into the input. Another manufacturer, which sells their own locking HDMI cables, is Accell AVGrip, which also use a sleeve and in order to remove the cable, all the user has to do is pull back on the sleeve and unplug the cable.

It should be noted that most locking cables are far more expensive than the regular HDMI cables, and for many setups, you would not need them. However, if you find yourself having to repeatedly plugging in the HDMI cables in your home setup, then they are good investment.

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Flat HDMI cables explained

There are so many different types of HDMI cables that some users are baffled when they have to pick one for their home theatre setups. Well, there is a good chance that any HDMI cable will work and you do not have to spend a fortune to get the best out of your video and audio equipment. Of course, not all cables are created equal and you should avoid buying super-cheap HDMI cables, which are often built from low quality materials and thinner than they should be. However, you should not fall for the marketing hype that some manufacturers and retailers are creating, and spend hundreds on a single cable either.

The flat HDMI cables and the flat white HDMI cables, which are sold in some shops could be preferred if you need an in-wall installation, where you would run the cable to a HDMI plate or directly to the TV or any other display. The flat cables are less likely to be damaged during or after the installation and they could be run under a rug if you really need to do that. In every other aspect they are as good as the regular HDMI cables and have exactly the same capabilities. When choosing an HDMI cable, you should look into its specifications rather its appearance. While you do not have to know what each HDMI version supports, purchasing a 1.3 or 1.4 cable makes sense since they are the latest and have better specs than their predecessors. Since 1.3, HDMI offers full 3D over HDMI support, as well as xvYCC, Deep Color, Auto lip-sync, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream support. These specs ensure that no matter what model or type of audio or video source you are using, as long as they are HDMI-equipped, you should get excellent sound and picture. In addition, the 1.4 cables support Audio return channel (ARC), 4K × 2K resolution, and come with Ethernet channel as well. At the time of this writing, the ARC is the only feature that you can use, but the Ethernet is likely to be used in equipment in the near future and it could allow you to have a all-in-one home theater system, which allows you to watch movies, listen to music, and surf the Internet at the same time. There are already computers, known as media center computers, which serve these functions, but some future TVs and video and audio devices are likely to be able to perform most of them as well.

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HDMI cables and 3D

The 3D technology, according to many, is still in its infancy and most experts recommend that we wait just a bit longer before buying a 3D TV. Not that there is anything wrong with the 3D models that are already on the market, but buying one right now, when there is not too much 3D content available and they are still quite costly might not be the best choice. In addition, many of these models require purchasing glasses for each user, which glasses are quite expensive as well. However, there are already plans for new-technology 3D sets, which would deliver the same quality picture, would not require glasses, and might bring the prices down.

What do you need in order to watch 3D from a 3D-ready video source? If you want to connect you 3D Vlu-ray player to your 3D TV, then you would need the right cable and the HDMI cables are the ones that most customers use. They are capable of supporting almost all picture and TV formats, including most of the available 3D ones and they could be used regardless of the make and the model of the video source or HDTV (as long as they are HDMI-ready).

Which cables are 3D ready? If you do not know much about these cables, you could be forced to buy an expansive by a fast-talking sales clerk, but the truth is that a ten pounds cable is likely to do the trick. Both the 1.3 and 1.4 HDMI cables support 3D over HDMI and they are likely to work for most setups. When buying a cable, you simply have to choose one, which has been built of good materials and you should not go for the cheapest one since they are almost never durable. A middle of the road 1.3 or 1.4 cable should work and if there are any problems when connecting the source to the TV, then these problems are most likely caused by the equipment rather than the cable itself. In some rare cases the cable could be at fault, especially if it is far too long – even though there is no maximum length specified for the HDMI cables, most experts agree that they should work flawlessly for five and even ten meters. In fact, a fifteen-meter cable could work in some setups and fail in other, and for longer distances, active cables might be necessary or more than one cable could be linked with the help of a repeater.

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Reasons for buying HDMI cables

While you can use different types of cables to link your equipment when building a home theatre, choosing HDMI cables comes with many advantages, which are difficult to ignore. The HDMI cables carry digital audio and video, allowing for the highest resolution images and sound to be supported, and they are the cables that you would want to use if you want to get the best out of your equipment. The HDMI cables are now at version 1.4, where the 1.3 and 1.4 are the only Category 2 cables; the Category 2 specification supports including 1080p resolution and virtually all PC and TV video formats.

When buying an HDMI cable, the price does matter, but you are not required to buy the most expensive one in order to get perfect quality video and audio. In fact, you can find good quality cables from as little as twenty pounds, which cables should work for almost all setups. The cheapest cables cost around two to five pounds, but most of them are built from low quality material and they are not likely to be as durable as the higher-grade ones. Many manufacturers and retailers are pushing cables that cost hundreds of pounds, but these cables are unlikely to outperform the more affordable ones. There are only some specific instances when you might need a higher end HDMI cable and these are the cases when you would need in-wall installation or when you need a cable, which is longer than fifteen meters.

Before you purchase an HDMI cable, you need to make sure that all your equipment is HDMI-ready. If you have purchased the latest models Blu-ray Disk Player, DVD player, or HDVT, then they are likely to be HDMI equipped, but some older devices might not support HDMI and you might have to use different cables or adapters. If you need Audio return channel (ARC), which allows sound to be passed from the TV back to the home sound system, then you would have to purchase 1.4 version since they are the only cables that support ARC. They are also the only cables with Ethernet channel, but at the time of this writing, there is no equipment on the market, which uses the Ethernet channel. However, the 1.4 HDMI cables are ready to meet some future specifications and if you purchase one now, you are likely to use it with all video sources and displays that will be released in the near future.

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The advantages of buying a flat HDMI cable

The HDMI cables come in all flavors and could cost from just a few pounds to a few hundred pounds. They are different in length, they come in different versions, and now you can choose between a flat HDMI cable and the regular HDMI cable. However, when it comes to quality of the picture and sound, any decent cable would give you the same superb performance. The HDMI interface allows the transition of digital sound and picture and regardless of its type, you should be able to get the best out of your equipment.

Of course, purchasing the cheapest cable on the market could be an unwise move since these cables are unlikely to last. The flat HDMI cables normally cost a few pounds more than the regular ones, but either type would work for most users. The flat cables could be more suitable for some specific setups since they are less likely to get peeled and damaged and they could be better for in-wall setups. On the other hand, the quality of the materials and the built of the cable itself are far more important and for most of the home theatres, any good, twenty to thirty pounds cable should be more than adequate.

When purchasing an HDMI cable, the choice between flat one and regular is often not important, but there are some factors that need to be considered. One of these factors is the length of the cable – these cables have been designed to carry digital signal over a short length and if you need to links source and display, which are more than ten meters apart, then you might run into some issues. In such cases, the best approach is to actually purchase a longer cable and see if it works – depending on the type and model of the used equipment, a ten and even fifteen meters long cable might work just fine or might fail miserably. In longer distances, purchasing active (boosted) flat or regular HDMI cable might be what is needed, but one or more shorter cables could be chained with the help of a repeater as well. In addition, if you are linking newer equipment, which has been purchased in the past six months to a year, then buying a version 1.4 cable, or at least 1.3 one is highly recommended. These are the last two versions, which support resolutions and come with features, not available in older cables.

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HDMI wall plates and HDMI cables – everything you need to know

The HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is an interface, which transmits digital audio and video and which allows users to set up their own home theaters by connecting different HDMI-ready sources to their HDTVs or video projectors. With the HDMI becoming the most widely used interface, most electronic equipment manufacturers are making their devices HDMI ready and almost any HDTV that you buy today is likely to have two or more HDMI inputs. However, if you have more than one source and one or more TV that you want the sources connoted to, you would need a few HDMI cables and your setup could easily become messy. This is where the HDMI wall plates come in handy since they allow you have the cables in-wall and keep your setup with fewer tangled cables.

The HDMI plates, also known as HDMI panels could be mounted on any wall as long as you can drill in it and run your cables through. This is far more practical for homes, which are contracted from timber, but the panels could be mounted on brick and even concrete walls if needed. The HDMI plates come in all sizes and flavors, where some of them have only one socket and others could have two or more. The latter type is ideal for setups, where more than one audio or video sources are used or where more than one displays are used. In addition, a plate could have other types of connections than HDMI, allowing the user to link older equipment as well. The plates could also come with a switch or repeater, which allows for setups that are more elaborate, where the cables need to be run in longer distances or a few cables need to be chained together. Using the HDMI plates is very straightforward since all the user needs to do is plug in the cables, turn on the source and the TV and enjoy perfect picture and sound. When it comes to choosing the cable itself, a good quality, version 1.4 cable is perfect, but for most setups even the older, 1.3 cables would work. The only differences between the two versions is the fact that the 1.4 HDMI supports Audio return channel, 4096×2160 resolution, and comes with Ethernet channel. Problems might arise when using HDMI cables and HDMI wall plate if one or more of the devices are not HDMI-ready, but if all of them are, then the setup should deliver superb video and audio, regardless of the manufacturer and model of the equipment.

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Using the Apple Digital AV Adapter

The HDMI interface is the one, which is most commonly used today since the HDMI cables support the highest resolution picture and most of the popular audio format and codecs. They allow the user to connect virtually any HDMI-ready source such as Blu-ray player, DVD player, computer, or even a video camera to an HDTV, video projector, or computer monitor and enjoy the excellent quality video and audio. The latest HDMI cables, the 1.4 version even come with Ethernet channel, 4096×2160 resolution support, and Audio return channel.

However, if you want to connect your Mac to your HDTV, then you would have to use the Apple Digital AV Adapter. This would allow you to display whatever is on your Mac on a larger TV screen and share it with your friends and family. In addition, the same adapter works with iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod touch 4th generation and now you can see everything that you can see on either of these mobile devices on any HDMI-ready display. You can surf the web, watch videos or funny clips, listen to music, or watch slideshows and you are no longer confined to the small screen of the mobile device. The video out connector supports 1080p for iPad 2 and up to 720p for iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod touch and the movies are played at up to 720p, which would still give you an excellent quality image. Mirroring is available for iPad 2 only and the adapter only needs to be connected to the 30-pin dock connector and to the HDMI-ready display in order to work.

Using the Apple Digital AV Adapter allows you to have the best of both Worlds. You can take your mobile devices anywhere you go, surf the Internet while having coffee in your favorite coffee shop, and then connect it to your big screen TV and watch any content that you wish in order to take advantage of the larger viewing area. The connector is available at the Apple’s store and costs a little less than forty dollars and the British users could order it on Amazon, where it is sold in the region of £30 – £39. The Apple Digital AV might not work with all apps and some users have reported that it does not work with all types of video projectors either, but it should work perfectly for any of the supported devices and almost all HDMI-enabled TV sets.

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How to choose an HDMI cable for your home system

If you believe some retailers, the more you spend on an HDMI cable, the better quality picture and sound you will be getting. Well, this is more often than not false and you do not have to spend hundreds of pounds in order to get the best out of your video and audio equipment. The fact is that the HDMI interface transmits digital data, which enables it to support virtually all PC and TV formats, as well as all audio formats and codecs. The HDMI 1.4 supports 4096×2160 over a single link and since 1.3, the HDMI cables support 3D over HDMI, DTS-HD Master Audio, and Dolby HD bitstream. This allows the users to link their HDMI ready equipment, regardless of its brand and model and enjoy excellent quality video and sound.

How to choose an HDMI cable for your home theatre – for starters, the cheapest (less than five pounds) cables might work for most setups, but they are not likely to last and they are almost certain to fail if you are trying to use longer distance cable. On the other hand, you do not need to spend your money on gold or platinum plated cables either since in terms of quality, they do not really outperform the normal, decent quality cables. In most cases, a middle of the road cable, which has been built from good quality materials, should be the one to purchase. You might have to make sure that the cable is at least version 1.3 or 1.4 if you are looking for 1.4 specific features only. Probably for 99% of the cases, a 1.3 cable would suffice, but if you want to have Audio return channel, then buying 1.4 is a must. The Audio return channel allows you to pass the sound from the TV back to your sound system, which is particularly useful in some cases.

For special cases, where you need to link a source, which is 15 meters or more away from the display, you should purchase an active HDMI cable with built-in electronics that serve as boosters since they could carry the signal up to 30 meters. An alternative would be to link two or more HDMI cables by using an extender. If you need to link two or more sources to the same display, then you could use as many cables as you need and an HDMI switch for your setup.

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Using long HDMI cables

Unlike the analog cables, the HDMI interface transmits digital data only and in most cases, the cables deliver perfect picture quality or no picture at all. When there is no picture, then there could be a number of problems causing the problems, but most of these problems are caused by incompatible devices rather than the cable itself. When trying to connect non-HDMI ready equipment to HDMI display, then you are likely to see no picture and when trying to watch encrypted content, the same problem might arise if your devices do not support the encryption. However, you might have heard that longer HDMI cables could cause some issues and they certainly could, but these issues rarely pertain to the picture quality.

Longer HDMI cables and the issues that you could face when using them:

No picture at all- if you are using a normal length cable (2-3 meters long), then you are likely to have perfect sound and picture as long as you have HDMI-ready source and display. However, if you run say 10 meters long HDMI cable, this might work in some setups and might not in others. The fact is that different manufacturers and even different equipment from the same manufacturers could have different strength signal. When choosing a longer HDMI cable, you should look for one that has Category 2 specification since it is less likely to present problems. It is also good to consult the manufacturer or the retailer since some Category 2 cables support the specifications only over shorter distance. In addition, you would want higher grade cable, especially if you intend to running in-wall installation – the price is not an accurate indicator of the quality of the cable and even an HDMI cable that costs twenty to thirty pounds would be perfect for most setups. The cheapest cables that you can find cost just a few pounds, but they are thinner and built from low quality materials, which makes them more likely to fail.

For distance of up to 10 meters, you could find a single cable that might work, especially if you purchase one that comes with built-in boosters. For distances over 20 meters, you could purchase two HDMI cables and an HDMI repeater, and for even larger distances, you could chain-run a few HDMI cables. For professional setups that require a few hundred meter cabling, using an optical fiber extender is likely to be the best choice since they could extend the cables over 300 meters.

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