Widgets Magazine

How to Choose an HDMI Cable

By Justin Dawson
Usually when the wife and I go shopping I tell her that I will meet her back at a certain place in 30 minutes and add an extra 15 minutes to this knowing that she will spend time trying on clothes. I have no interest in sitting on a chair outside a changing room browsing through social media.
In our last shopping trip I did my usual and visited the nearest tech store or anywhere that has a few laptops, TV screens, or cables on display.
I also enjoy standing in the corner of a tech shop looking like I know nothing or eavesdropping on the salesperson in the store trying and earn their commission by selling some poor gullible customer the most expensive cable for their latest TV they have just purchased. I hope I’m not the only tech geek who does this for fun?
I arrived at a stand selling HDMI cables for over €90. NINETY EURO! What’s so special about this cable?!?
Welcome to the voodoo surrounding HDMI cables. The packaging has several different bonus factors to take into consideration. As I read all the features, luckily I wasn’t confronted by a salesman trying to get me to purchase this expensive two metre cable. All the buzz words were printed on the packaging, “faster, long lasting, faster speed,” and most famous of all “better picture quality.”
Let’s instantly dispel the better picture quality. HDMI cables are digital. There is no better picture quality, it’s either superb or poor.
Know that there are 4 types of HDMI cable:
There are four different types of HDMI cables, Standard, Standard with Ethernet, High Speed, and High Speed with Ethernet.
Standard cables are rated for 720p and 1080i. If you have just purchased a 3D TV then its recommended you have a high speed HDMI cable. Standard with Ethernet, you guessed it, is 2 cables in 1, you can carry data transmissions,
But what’s with the HDMI certifications?
HDMI cables are rated by speed. There are a few types of certifications: HDMI 1.0 through 1.4 which can carry between 4.9 Gbps to 10 Gbps, HDMI 2.0 which can carry up to 18Gbps, and now HDMI 2.0a. That means existing HDMI 2.0, always labelled High Speed, can already carry 4K content at 60 frames per second. If already have one and buy a 4K TV, lucky you, you’re rich! But save some cash and don’t buy another cable because the salesman told you too!
Why buy a more expensive HDMI cable?
Two reasons:
First, without contradicting myself it does come down to quality of the cable. More expensive cables have benefits in durability, stronger coated materials, gold plated, 90 degree angled connections which are extremely helpful when you have a wall mounted TV where a cable is held at a right angle and has constant pressure on it.
There are risks in purchasing cheap HDMI cables from your local pound shop or Euro store. Each HDMI cable is made of 19 pins. Opening one of these connectors you may find poorly connected wires, or in some cases missing wires, to the connection plate. Always look for HDMI licensed adopters. The HDMI police are strict about their standards and while researching this article I found that they have closed booths at CES due to the standards of some resellers!
Second, the price of an HDMI cable could rise when the cable is an active HDMI cable. An active HDMI cable has electronics on one side or both sides of the cable to help boost the signal and maintain integrity, allowing for the use of point-to-point HDMI over greater distances without having to convert it.
For Joe “Gullible” Soap consumer, who has just purchased a new HD TV at 1080p, a two metre HDMI cable at maximum €15 connected to his TV receiver (Virgin Media or Sky) will provide him with all the TV stations in high definition. Let the wife have the extra €50 for her new dress!
 
Justin Dawson is an Audiovisual technician and Internet broadcaster based in Ireland. You can find more of his work at www.justinrdawson.com

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