Compatibility of Blu-ray, HDMI and AV receivers

Sometimes there are situations when you would want to view High-definition; high clarity images on your HDTV, home theater system or flat-screen LCDs, or you want to enjoy your football matches at home with your family and friends. However, is this possible? Yes, there are different ways and means by which you can enhance the image on your existing television screens.

Firstly, you might think why you need to buy a blu-ray DVD player when you standard DVD player offers you up-converting facility wherein a standard 720p image will be converted to a1080p image. The reason is that surely your Standard DVD player is de-interlacing and up-converting the images but the resultant image is not a High-definition image. It is very good but not truly high-definition. All the images we say through our cable or satellite are HD so it only makes sense to get a Blu –ray DVD player that gives us HD images of high quality. Even blu-ray players have up-converting and interlacing abilities that are superior to your standard DVD player. So, even a simple DVD when played using a blu-ray will result in a superior quality image. Some blu-ray discs also have something called BD live that can help unlock extra features in the DVD. Blu-ray discs are 1080p resolution but they can be used even if you HDTV are only 720p. This makes sense because even when your HDTV is 720p it will still display an HD image. Using a blu-ray disc will show an image that is far sharper and clearer as compared to when using a standard DVD player. Therefore, it is always recommendable to buy a blu-ray DVD player for your HDTV.

Now let’s come to issues concerning your AV receiver. You can be able to connect your blu-ray DVD player to your HDTV even if your AV receiver does not have an HDMI input. What is required to be done for this purpose is that you bypass your AV receiver and directly connect your blu-ray DVD player to your HDTV using your TVs HDMI input. Your blu-ray player can also give you superior quality soundtracks because of its ability to play Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD master. Standard DVD players can play Dolby digital and dts soundtracks that do sound very good they will result in data losses whenever six channels of sound are compressed to fit into the space available on a standard DVD. Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD master on the other hand are lossless and do not cause loss of data. Even if your AV receiver decodes only Dolby digital you can get superior sound if you connect your blu-ray player directly to your HDTV.

So, get a blu-ray DVD player this season of football and use it with your HDTV to get true HD images of the highest resolution. An AV receiver should not be a problem as the Blu-ray player can be directly connected to your HDTV using an HDMI cable to give you superior sound and HD viewing experience.

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What would you choose for your screen – VGA, DVI or HDMI?

As there are so many different options like VGA, DVI or HDMI cables that can be used to connect your computer monitor to your CPU, as your monitor has all three different input sockets, I am sure it has got you wondering which cable would be the best one to use for your new monitor. To choose the correct cable, it is important to know what purpose is served by all these different cables.

An LCD screen usually comes with three input sockets (one for each- VGA, DVI, HDMI) and it is usually recommended in the setup instructions that it is best to use a DVI or HDMI cable for connection, when in fact the only cable that has been included in the package is a VGA cable. Just like a Dell 21.5 inch monitor which comes with a VGA cable. You might wonder why does one need to buy a separate cable or does one need to buy a separate cable at all, as that will definitely mean more expense. For finding a solution to that query you have to realize that a VGA ( Video graphics array) cable provides you with an analog signal while DVI (Digital visual interface) cables and HDMI( High-Definition multimedia Interface) provides you with a very high quality, superior digital data. Not only is the video sharper and of a higher quality, it is also a higher resolution image that gives you a better viewing experience. Therefore, it can be said that your monitor definitely needs a cable other than a VGA.

Also, if the native resolution of your monitor is higher than a VGA cable it can display sharply, and it becomes necessary that you get the right able for your monitor, so that the money spent on purchasing the monitor does not go to waste. This is because a VGA cable cannot display a sharp picture of higher resolutions. Now the question is, whether to buy a HDMI or a DVI cable? Well, HDMI cables are more expensive than DVI cables. If your computer has both an HDMI video output and a blu-ray disk drive, HDMI becomes necessary only in case you need to watch blu-ray DVDs on your PC as a DVI cable will not provide that quality of digital data transmission. HDMI is also useful if it is connected to a High definition television screen. However, if you do not plan to use the blu-ray disk drive, in that case you need not bother to buy a HDMI cable for you monitor. However, in the near future if you do plan for it, then a DVI cable would suffice as it has HDCP that is necessary to view protected digital information as on a blu-ray DVD.

So, to use the features of your new computer monitor completely, and to have a wonderful viewing experience a connection cable better than a standard VGI surely becomes necessary. And, after considering all pros and cons, the DVI cable seems to be the right choice in comparison to the HDMI.

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Understanding the HDMI Ethernet Channel

In the past, in order to enjoy IP-enabled applications on high-definition electronic display devices like HDTVs, consumers had to get separate Ethernet cables to allow connectivity. However, with the introduction of the HDMI Ethernet Channel, all you need is a single HDMI cable with Ethernet. Let’s talk about what the HDMI Ethernet Channel is, its capabilities, limitations and what it generally entails.

What is HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC)?
The HEC is a platform that allows transmission of high speed, 2-way digital data signals. With the HEC, devices featuring this channel can receive and send data through 100Mb/sec Ethernet. This means that you can instantly access IP-enabled programs and applications.

Capabilities of HDMI Ethernet Channel
Some of the key capabilities of HEC include the following:

Internet Sharing:
With the introduction of HDMI Ethernet channel, you can now share internet connection from Blu-ray disc players, gaming consoles, HDTVs and other internet-enabled HDMI entertainment gadgets—without buying a separate cable. However, in order to enjoy the internet sharing function, there has to be a sort of router in the network. This routing device can be one that is built into your device or a lone router. Through this router, you can share connection with devices that are connected by the HDMI cable.

Home Networking:
HEC is designed to support the current networking protocols but it also goes beyond that to lay down the platform for future networking solutions. Thus, it caters to LiquidHD, UpnP, DLNA, TCP/IP and virtually any other advanced networking solution capable of running over existing Ethernet connections and that is employed by HDMI home entertainment devices.

Distribution of Digital Content:
Just like the internet sharing function, HDMI Ethernet Channel allows connected electronic devices to distribute digital content without the need to get a separate cable. This means that you can easily store, record and play-back digital content in the original format. With this feature, it means that if you want to share, for instance, digital content like HDCP encrypted content, it will remain in the original encrypted format while sharing it and you’ll only be able to access it with HDCP-enabled devices. This is so because such content are protected to discourage piracy. However, if the original or native format is unprotected, you don’t need an HDCP-enabled device for sharing.

Cables Supporting HDMI Ethernet Channel
You can only enjoy the HDMI Ethernet Channel with two cables: High Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet and Standard HDMI cable with Ethernet. Thus if you have the other two HDMI cables, i.e. Standard HDMI cable and High Speed HDMI cable, you won’t be able to enjoy the HEC.

You’ll need a Standard HDMI cable with Ethernet if your display device has lower resolutions like 1080i or 720p. High Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet support higher resolutions like 1080p. However, the good thing about these cables is that they are backward compatible and if your device supports an earlier version, these cables will still work for them.

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New HDMI 1.4 Features

Like earlier HDMI cables, the version 1.4 is backward compatible which means that it can work with devices that support earlier HDMI features. This means that even if your HDTV has HDMI 1.3 or even 1.1, you can use the HDMI 1.4 cable with it. However, you won’t be able to enjoy the improved features of the 1.4. Let’s examine some of the features supported by the HDMI 1.4 cable.

The HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC)
This is a major addition. With the HEC, it is now possible to enjoy high speed, 2-way digital communication. For instance, if you have an internet-enabled device, you can receive and send signals or data through the 100mbps Ethernet in order to enjoy IP-supported applications. The good thing about this feature is that you don’t need an extra cable for this transmission; your high speed or standard cable (with Ethernet) is all you need. Furthermore, it also lays down the necessary platform if you want to share content between different HDMI-enabled devices.

The Audio Return Channel (ARC)
I personally don’t like seeing wires cluttering or lying about and with the new HDMI 1.4, this is a forgotten issue. The ARC makes it possible to send excellent audio signals in two ways. First, it delivers audio signals upstream from a HDTV to an audio/video receiver and for HDTVs with inbuilt DVD players or tuners; the ARC also ensures that audio signals from the TV are received upstream at the A/V receiver – with the same HDMI cable. Secondly, the ARC’s lip sync feature corrects lapses that occur during transmission and matches the audio to the video.

3D Support
With the HDMI 1.4 specification, you can watch 3D content on your HDMI devices. Whatever the content—3D movies, 3D programs and 3D games—you have the opportunity of watching them in popular formats such as field method, line method, alternative method, side by side method and frame method. You can also watch them at display resolutions of up to 1080p.

4K Support
Watch digital content on your home entertainment systems at resolutions rivaling those seen at cinemas. Thanks to the 4K support (which simply means that you can watch at a resolution 4 times that of a 1080p display supported device), you can watch videos in two formats: 3840 pixels wide by 2160 pixels high and 4096 pixels wide by 2160 pixels high.

Additional Color Spaces
With the 1.4 specification, you can view digital photos taken by digital still cameras on your HDMI device. The color spaces supported are Adobe RGB, Adobe Ycc60i and sYCC601.

Micro Connector
This smaller 19 pin connector supports up to 1080p and can be used on portable digital devices like cameras and media players. It’s about half the size of the mini connector.

Automotive Connection System
Designed for use in cars and other vehicles, this feature particularly addresses problems with noise, heat and vibration and it’s a good platform for vehicular HD content that is sure to come sooner than later.

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How HDMI Works

HDMI is fast gaining ground and changing the face of digital display as we know it. Introduced into the market in 2003, HDMI has undergone tremendous development incomparable to that experienced by analog devices. Well, for those of you who are yet to clue in, a brief lesson on what HDMI is and how it works is definitely in order.

What is HDMI?
HDMI is the acronym for High Definition Media Interface and it refers to a standard set of rules which allow high bandwidth signal connections between different digital gadgets. This makes audio and video signal transmissions better, as seen with HDTVs and other digital devices. Since the high definition devices won’t have to convert the signals from analog to digital, they are protected from degradation. With a HDMI cable, you can kiss the days of using several cables goodbye because it allows you to connect several devices with a single cable—plus you can also use a single remote for all of them.

Technology behind HDMI
HDMI transmits digital data or signals through audio and video interfaces by employing a protocol known as Transmission Minimized Differential Signaling (TDMS). TDMS protects the signals being transmitted by first encoding them before sending from the source to the receiver. This encoding prevents degradation during transmission and is responsible for the high quality picture and sound experienced with HDMI. The process is simple and can be illustrated in the following steps:

  • The sender or source device, e.g. a Blu-ray disc player, first reduces the frequency of signal transmission from 1 (on) to 0 (off) by encoding it. Encoding the signal reduces the chances of degradation and ensures that the quality is maintained.
  • HDMI uses twisted pair cables; one of them transmits the encoded original signal while the other transmits the inverse version to the receiving device.
  • On getting to the receiver, e.g. a high definition TV, the transmitted signal is then decoded. The receiving device does this by measuring the difference between the original signal and its inverse copy to make up for signal losses that occur during transmission.

HDMI Cables
In essence, HDMI cables are the conduit through which the audio and video signals, and by extension, the HDMI technology can be enjoyed. Since inception, there have been upgrades and revisions ranging from 1.1 to 1.4a, the current standard. However, the cables are no longer referred to as their version numbers; instead, they are referred to as Standard or High Speed Cables with or without Ethernet connectivity.

Standard cables support lower resolutions (such as 1080i or 720p) while High Speed cables support higher resolution displays (such as 1080p). Cables with Ethernet are useful for devices that support the HEC (HDMI Ethernet Channel) with a sending capacity of 100/mbps. In essence it means there are 4 cables viz.: Standard cable, Standard Cable with Ethernet, High Speed cable and High Speed cable with Ethernet. The last cable is the Automotive HDMI cable yet to be commercially available.

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HDMI Audio Return Channel

The Audio Return Channel makes the transmission of audio signals easier and better. Introduced with the HDMI 1.4, The Audio Return Channel allows an enabled TV to send or receive audio signals downstream or upstream via HDMI without the need for an extra cable. What does this really mean and how does this feature improve sound?
In the past, TVs were generally positioned downstream in relation to audio equipment and content sources. While this is still the predominant standard, it posed a little problem for TVs that had inbuilt DVD players and tuners and need to send data from the TV to the audio setup. To do this, you’d have to set up another connection like the S/PDIF cable. However, with the Audio Return Channel, it’s now possible to send audio signals upstream from the TV to the audio system set up—with a single HDMI cable.

How the Audio Return Channel Works
The Audio Return Channel offers flexibility and ease during the transmission and delivery of audio signals. ARC cables—which are featured on 1.4 and earlier versions—reduce the cables necessary for sending signals upstream from your TV to the A/V receiver with the audio channel which allows the processing of the signals before playback. This ensures the delivery of high quality sound in the following ways:

  • Depending on your personal preferences, you can set up your TV to receive or send audio signals downstream or upstream, through HDMI without having to buy another cable.
  • It also ensures that the audio is accurately matched with the video without any distortion. This feature, referred to as LipSync and introduced in the 1.3 version, automatically tracks and corrects errors and processor delays or lags during downstream or upstream transmission of audio signals. These are then adjusted with the video signals to ensure that they are in sync.

The Audio Return Channel provides support for DTS, PCM audio, Dolby Digital and other audio signal formats that are transmitted through the traditional S/PDIF connection.  Additionally, you don’t need a new cable in order to enjoy the Audio Return Channel Function since all the existing HDMI cables support this function.

Enjoying Audio Return Channel Functionality in the Home
In order to ensure that you can access the Audio Return Channel function in your home, you need to take note of the following points:

  • Ensure that your device supports Audio Return Channel. Not all devices are ARC-enabled and you can only enjoy ARC with devices that are designed to support this function.
  • Use the right cable. Actually, in this case you can use any of the existing HDMI cables since they all support ARC. Thus, if you have an earlier version, you don’t need to get a newer one just to enjoy ARC; your older cable will work just fine. However, if you need a new cable, you can choose from 4 available types: High Speed HDMI cable, High Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet, Standard HDMI cable and Standard HDMI cable with Ethernet.
  • Ensure that your devices are connected via the ARC-enabled ports.
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Types of HDMI Cables

While HDMI cables are very popular these days for connecting high definition devices, they come in multiple types. At the same time there is much hype as well as misconceptions about the pricing of these cables in the market among the end users. It will not be prudent buying the cheapest version of the HDMI cable that would go out of order after a few days. Rather it would be good buying something in the range of £2-£20 that would be much better option for the buyer.
However, deciding on the type and price can only be possible once the buyer comes across the information on the types of HDMI cables available.

We start with HDMI over IP.

  • A connector for 1080p video and 5.1 audio, the HDMI over IP project offer numerous functions that can result in inspirational audio and video output for the user.
  • It not only works on the TV but also on LAN and WAN network and Internet.
  • The point to point connector allows sending of HDMI 1.3 signals to multiple LCD panels and to one or more of the HDMI video projectors. The source will return an IR control signal using cat 5, 6, or 7 over the standard Ethernet infrastructure.
  • It can cover approximately hundred or more remote displays with the Ethernet switches designed for the three levels.
  • HDMI over IP is a high speed connection, very reliable, and durable, and the quality of the picture and sound are excellent.
  • Each unit is installed with shielded twisted pair STP or UTP cable for each of the devices.

Another format is the HDMI over cat or high definition multimedia interface category is unusual in multiple senses. Data transfer is very high at 1080p with the capacity of 48 bits. It allows the user more control as it has the ability of capturing data from the remote sites. The process is also very helpful in controlling signals and elimination of disturbing sounds emanating from remote locations. With HDMI over cat, the HDMI itself can be enlarged.

HDMI cables are basically meant for connection of multiple digital devices and both source and destination points should be digital as always. Broadly speaking one can classify the HDMI cables in to four categories.

  • Category A cable as 19 pins and male connectors with dimensions of 13.9mm x 4.45mm and the female socket with 14mm x 55 mm and has the bandwidth required supporting the HDTV type of devices. It is also the most widely used HDMI connector cables.
  • Category B is a bit larger where the male connector has the dimensions of 21.2mm x 4.45mm as well as 29 pins. It can carry and transmit double the video capacity of type A. It is also designed for future displays such as the WQUXGA.
  • Type C is designed to be used in small portable devices that do not have space for sockets and the connector dimension is only 10.4mm x 2.42mm. However, it still has 19 pins. It can also be interconnected with type connectors.
  • Finally; the type D connectors are similar to A and C but are still smaller and compressed into form like the min USB. The connector dimension is only 2.8mmx6.4mm.

All these cables are available in most mobile and HD device stores. However, it depends on the exact requirement of the user that will decide which of the four types he or she buys.

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HDMI Cable Gold Cable

Requirement of superior quality of cable is almost indispensable for high definition devices. Good quality cables have multiple advantages and the greatest among them is the avoidance of packet data loss. Since the standard HDMI cables can result in such packet data loss thereby adversely affecting the audio and video qualities on the TV, creating noises, disturbances, blurred images, and various others, high standard cables are often used to get rid of these problems. HDMI cable gold cable is one such solution for high definition devices.

Advantages of using high definition cable connection like the HDMI cable gold cable are –

  • They prevent loss of video or audio signals or their becoming weak so as to create problems for viewers and listeners;
  • It stops the glitches in the picture as well;
  • Playback on HD ready TV through the high definition cable is an altogether different experience;
  • It is something like the Blu-Ray player or the Play Station 3 experience; and
  • The output is always more than the user can expect.

Users of the HDMI cable gold would like to have the most out of the high definition cable. In order to get crystal clear audio and video the user has to follow a few steps or else the output may not be as desired. If despite using the HDMI cable gold cable the user is not getting clear pictures and suffering from flickering screens, lines coming across the TV, and sound glitch among others, it will certainly mean that there are some deficiencies in the method of using.

However, users may have the peace of mind by learning the fact that use of the HDMI cable gold cable is not very difficult. It is not meant for flashy people to show of but a most practical device. Since the gold plated wiring conducts the signals much better than copper which is the standard wire used in the cables, the HDMI cable gold cable can substantially improve data transmission. With such improved data transmission, the playback is near perfect. Moreover, such connections are essential for getting the most out of the high definition devices that requires top class connection to display the best output.

Another advantage of using the HDMI cable gold cable is that these cables last much longer and has far greater durability in comparison to the standard copper based cables. However the user should be careful about unplugging the cable too often because many gold plated cables have only thin layers of gold that might disrupt due to rough use. They can wear off due to heavy use as well. However, this problem can also be addressed by going for the cable with thicker gold layer that won’t disrupt easily but the proposition would involve substantial one time expenses that may not be liked by many users.

Last but not least is the fact that HDMI cable gold cable are always better shielded that protects them from external interference and due to this the data transmission is accurate and perfect almost every time. Finally; even if the HDMI cable gold cable are longer, the data loss would be much less compared to their copper or aluminum counterparts because of the excellent conducting capability of gold.

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Why HDMI cables are not optimal for longer distances

The general assumption regarding HDMI cables is that they are immensely superior to their component connection counterparts, regardless of any other factors involved. However, this assumption fails to take into account several other aspects, which, in practice, will render the HDMI cable a sub-optimal choice. In essence, the reason why most people consider HDMI better is the fact that the uncompressed digital method of signal transmission is more accurate and free of errors. This is false, there is, in fact, data loss that can occur for reasons independent of the type of cable lost and that are more or less proprietary to the transmission source.

Moreover, the signal loss becomes quite a bit more palpable over longer distances for those who use HDMI cables. Granted, the HDBaseT technology is an effective means of ensuring that the signal stays strong throughout, up to 800 meters. On the other hand, the component video can perform equally well without the help of signal boosters of any type. It is important to note that the impedance for long cables needs to be controlled with pinpoint accuracy. This means that when it fluctuates for more than plus/minus 1.75 ohms, you can expect ghost signals or other type of data inaccuracies.

In order to understand why HDMI cables are not ideal for long lengths, you will need to understand that they are built from two balanced cables twisted in a pair. It is not yet clear why the manufacturers have decided to avoid the coaxial cable approach that they had first settled on when the SDI standard was ratified. Nevertheless, the twisted-pair cables approach can provide a very limited control over the impedance, meaning that it is somewhere in the plus/minus 10% range. Whilst this may not be excessively visible over short distances, it will definitely make itself noticed once you hit a certain cable length.
This is often referred to as the “digital cliff” effect. To put it simple, over short distances the bit streams are reconstructed via the bi-way connection that reflects the signal. Consequentially, even though a certain part of the signal is lost along the way, the corrections based on the feedback it receives from the output will enable it to reconstruct it fairly easily, and therefore, the loss will not be noticed. On the other hand, once you hit a certain distance, the signal reflection becomes increasingly difficult and hence, the reconstruction of the bit streams can no longer occur with the same efficiency.

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What’s in the cross section of the HDMI connector?

At its core, the HDMI technology has high-speed and digital signaling system especially developed to manage extremely high amounts of digital data over a very effective and accurate cable. The connectors of the HDMI usually include 19 pins, each contributing to the reliability and quality of the digital audio and video signals you will receive on your TV or computer. Over half of the pins incorporate the TMDS technology, an amazing innovation that is intended to protect the data from degrading.

Therefore, whilst 6 of the TMDS pins ensure the fast transmission of the large uncompressed digital data, 2 pins have the role of a clock signal designed to recover data that is lost during conduction. The last TMDS pins represent shielded paired channels that ensure the data transmission incorporates very little EMI emissions and cross-talk.
The introduction of the 1.3 generation of cables on the market meant adding the consumer electronic control pin to the connector. Even though this is mostly an optional feature, the truth is that it is very useful as it allows the user to control any other attached device automatically. The CEC features along with the DDC one are also included in a separate pin that has the role of returning all the signals that are not received via the TMDS channels. The compatibility of signal transmission is ensured by the display data channel pin; a device also used for encryption and authentication.

The last 2 pins that can be found on the HDMI connector are the +5V power and the hot plug detect pins. As its name suggests, the power pin is intended for supplying a low current that is needed for reading the EDID memory that is usually found in the display. The hot plug detector is responsible with announcing to the user certain events, such as an unplugged cable.

It is important to note that some manufacturers do not include the hot plug detector in the design of the HDMI connector. However, according to the configuration of the HDMI cable the 18 pin cables are not allowed anymore. When this innovative technology first appeared on the market, the HPD pin was not implemented then. Nowadays, it is found in all the HDMI cables you will see in stores or online. The great thing about HDMI is that they manage to make the 18 pin connectors operate efficiently on devices with 19 pin slots, and the newer version will fit older configuration as well.

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