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Differences in HDMI Cables


Differences in HDMI Cables

The Misunderstood HDMI Cable

There's a popular misconception that all HDMI™ cables are the same. The only true difference between them is price, many say. This is inaccurate. The fact is not all HDMI™ cables are created equal. Just as not all levels of high definition are the same, not all HDMI cables are the same.

Today's cutting-edge HDTVs and high definition sources demand dramatically higher data rates than previous generations of components and place incredible bandwidth/performance demands on HDMI™ cables. In fact, today's most advanced components operate very close to the limits of HDMI™ technology.
Take 1080p video with advanced 12-bit color. To experience this level of high definition video and color depth, your HDMI™ cable must support a minimum data rate of 6.68 Gbps. That's an astounding six billion bits per second, more than six times the data rate required for standard DVD playback. This is also a higher data rate than what's required for Simplay HD? verification, meaning even "Simplay HD Verified" cables don't necessarily support Deep Color.

To support the higher data rates required by today's higher definition components, HDMI™ cables require advanced design and construction and strict quality control standards. This is particularly true of long-length HDMI™ cables that will be used for custom installation.

Additionally, HDMI™ cables must meet current High Definition Multimedia Interface specifications, and preferably exceed them, so that they are future ready for tomorrow's advances in HD audio/video technology. If not, they might require an upgrade with the next generation of HD components.

Meeting the Need for Speed

Know What You're Getting

Many inexpensive cables sold on the Internet provide no real assurance that they will pass rigid HDMI specifications. In some instances, they only feature an HDMI™ logo, but fail to mention what data speed they support and/or if they meet the requirements of the latest specification, HDMI 1.3a. In other words, cables with an HDMI logo might be HDMI 1.0 compliant, but there's some question if they're built for the HDMI 1.3a Category 1 or Category 2 spec.

If packaging also doesn't feature a Simplay HD verified logo or a certified speed, there's some doubt it can even achieve a speed of 4.46 Gbps, required for verifiable 1080p performance. Just because a cable package has an HDMI™ logo on it doesn't mean it will meet HDMI performance requirements.

Also, claims of compatibility with "HDMI 1.3" are no guarantee a cable will maximize the performance of new and future HD equipment. There are two HDMI 1.3a specifications; one supporting speeds up to 4.46 Gbps (Category 1), and another supporting speeds up to 10.2 Gbps or 340 MHz (Category 2) with the aid of signal equalization. As previously mentioned, the latter specification is a must for 1080p performance with additional enhanced color features and lossless compressed surround sound.