Buyer’s Guide to HDMI Cables

When it comes to purchasing an HDMI cable many of us still struggle with how much to spend and which one has the best quality. Encouraged by the marketing claims and lucrative pricing schemes surrounding well-known brands of these cables, many major retailers strive to redirect the customer to one of these more expensive HDMI cable options. In most cases, rather than looking out for the best interest of the consumer, they are motivated by the favorable profit margins they receive from the sales of these pricier, brand named cables. However, to be fair, some sales personnel may be just as ignorant as the next person when it comes to understanding the basic requirements that define a “good” HDMI cable. When it comes to purchasing an HDMI cable you don’t need a whole lot of money, you just need to be armed with a little bit of knowledge and “common-sense” about the fundamentals of HDMI itself.

Many of us remember the days when the only choice for audio/video signals came in analog form with its sine-wave-shaped pattern and inherent signal deficiencies. At that time the characteristics of the analog cable you were purchasing were of major consideration due to the potential adverse affects created by one of inferior quality. A poorly designed cable could contribute to increased attenuation (signal-loss) and cross-talk (interference with another competing signal) resulting in a less than acceptable output. Many of us who have dealt with the handicaps of analog have become more or less “pre-conditioned” into thinking when it comes to a cable purchase that more is better — not only in terms of price, but in terms of design and composition. Given this, we tend to fall into the trap of believing that the more expensive HDMI cable is obviously the best choice, despite the fact that the best “Monster HDMI cable” may cost us well over $100 USD — more than the cost of a decent TV HD media player — all without delivering any noticeable signal enhancement.

In recent years, we have entered a new era of A/V signal processing that now belongs to HDMI, a digital signal consisting of 1’s and 0’s forming what is better known as a bitstream. Instead of the sine-wave-shaped pattern of analog, the digital signal resembles what is known as the square-shaped pattern. With these characteristics, the digital signal by its very nature lacks the inherent deficiencies that are present in analog signals. Given the physical differences between digital and analog signals, the physical characteristics of the digital cable are not nearly as important as with an analog equivalent. However, there are still some significant points to consider when buying an HDMI cable Amazon Listing B07CZTQ3MJ.

As of 2006, the HDMI 1.3 specification was established requiring a Category 1 cable for 780p and 1080i signals and a Category 2 cable for 1080p or above. More recently, the HDMI 1.4 specification was approved that will allow high-speed, bi-directional communications on a separate data channel. This will allow devices to send and receive data on a single HDMI 1.4 certified cable via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet without a separate network (Category 5) cable. However, it could be a while before we see a wide proliferation of devices in the hands of the average consumer that support this standard.

The thing to note is that the cable you select should minimally adhere to the standards required to support the signal output of your HDMI-enabled devices. However, it is advisable to select an HDMI cable that meets the best, supported specification at time of purchase. To further elaborate on that statement, if a new specification exists (such as HDMI 1.4) it does not mean that products, including cables, will be immediately available and that you have to make sure your purchase conforms to the absolute latest specification. What it does mean is that you need to be sensible about allowing yourself some “wiggle room” that could save you from having to buy new cables all over again when you possibly upgrade down the road to more advanced HDMI-compatible devices.

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