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HDMI Cables Buying Guide

A comprehensive buying guide that will give you all the information you need on which HDMI cables you need.


Getting Started

In just a few years, HDMI has become the standard audio and video connection for high-definition home theater equipment. Every new HDTV has at least two HDMI inputs, and gadgets such as DVRs, DVD players, Blu-ray players, game consoles, and computers feature HDMI outputs to deliver audio and video. Having a single cable handling both images and sound has the potential to make home theaters much simpler.

What Is HDMI?

What exactly is an HDMI cable? HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface.. In layman's terms, HDMI is a type of digital connection that's capable of transmitting high-definition video and high-resolution audio over a single cable. To do the same thing with analog cables, you'd need to connect three component-video cables plus six analog audio cables. HDMI is one cable to rule them all.

Types

HDMI can deliver the best image quality of any of the cable types available today. It can handle high-definition video of up to 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, which is the most bandwidth-intensive video format currently available. The older PC-based DVI connection offers equivalent quality, but it is rarely available on HDTVs or video components these days.

Component video is found on nearly all electronics that output high-def video, and its image quality is slightly lower than HDMI, but it's difficult for most people to tell the difference. Many viewers are probably familiar with the quality associated with the various standard-definition video cables--namely S-Video, composite (the yellow video cable), and RF--and HDMI provides a potentially huge improvement over all of them. As always, however, the biggest factor in video quality is the source; a low-quality source delivered over HDMI will still look worse than a high-quality source over S-Video.

For audio, HDMI is the best option as well. It supports the ability to carry eight channels of 24-bit audio at 192kHz--enough to handle even the highest resolution audio soundtracks such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Where else is HDMI used?

As with USB, there's also a mini HDMI port that is more and more commonly found on high-def camcorders or smartphones. It offers the same benefits as HDMI, but the smaller size of the port makes it easier to include on portable gadgets. You can connect electronics with mini HDMI ports to an HDTV using a cable that has a mini HDMI connecter at one end and standard HDMI connection on the other, like this one. You can also use a standard HDMI cable and a mini HDMI adapter.

Miscommunication can occur between a video source and the TV. This generally happens when there is a manufacturer's defect or the copy connection code is interfering. The copy protection code will obstruct the audio and video from getting to the TV. The communication between devices, via HDMI, is called Extended Display Identification Data (EDID). The devices connected by the HDMI cable can send and receive information to each other. This communication sends information beyond the audio and video signals. Manufacturer name, product type, screen resolution, and color depth are exchanged between devices making auto-configuration and set-up easy.



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