A Guide to Buying the Best HDMI Cables
High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables connect your televisions with media players supporting Blu-ray, cable boxes, and audio-video recorders, and simplify the process of sending audio and video files without complicated hook-ups. This all-in-one simple cable with an easy installation procedure is probably the smoothest way to transfer data from one device to the other. The market is full of different versions of HDMI cables. To eliminate any confusion, we have put together a guide which will help you select the best HDMI cable without any hassles.
What is an HDMI Cable?
The High-Definition Multimedia (HDMI) Interface is a standard for transmitting digital video and audio simultaneously from a source to a computer monitor, TV or projector. HDMI cables and connectors are needed to transfer digital signals and to connect these audio-visual devices together.
What are the advantagaes of using HDMI cable?
Here are some of the advantages of using HDMI cables:
- HDMI interface cables can carry both audio and video signals, so the need for separate cables for audio and video is no longer necessary.
- With a single cable, it can transmit high-bandwidth data (video, audio, 3D and Ethernet).
- Better picture quality with increased contrast and color saturation
- Since it offers signal integrity, HD materials can be transmitted without being degraded or altered.
- Due to 2-way communication and automatic configuration, there is no need for external intervention to identify best audio/resolution formats.
What is the difference between HDMI and VGA cable?
VGA is an older standard that is designed to carry only video signals from a device to a display. A HDMI cable, on the other hand, is the standard for newer electronic devices, such as Blu-ray players, LED TVs, game consoles, and it can carry both digital video and audio signals.
What are the things to consider when buying HDMI cable?
HDMI cables should be selected based on the following factors:
- Connector Type: HDMI connectors come in three types: standard, micro, and mini.
- Standard HDMI- Typically, you can find these connectors on TVs, computer monitors, gaming consoles and streaming sticks.
- Mini HDMI- Connectors like these are often found on devices like camcorders, DSLR cameras, laptops, and tablets.
- Micro HDMI- They can be found on notebook computers, action cameras, smartphones, portable media players and tablets.
- Video Resolutions: HDMI cables available on the market can handle video resolutions of 1080p, 720p, 480p, 4K, 8K, and 1080i/720p. Today, most HDMI displays and components support Ultra High Definition (UHD) 4K video. Therefore, you should always choose a cable that can transmit at least the highest resolution supported by your video source or display. Whenever possible, choose the highest resolution cable for the best entertainment experience.
- Cable Length: As a general rule, 1080p video is viewed at a distance of 50 feet, and 4K video at a distance of 25-30 feet, but distances of more than 50 feet are possible. As for distance limitations, that depends on the quality of your cable, the components you are using and the video resolutions that you desire.
- HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection): Make sure your cable supports HDCP. HDCP prevents unauthorized use and copying of high-resolution digital video and audio. If HDCP isn't supported, providers will give an error, or transmit their content at a lower resolution.
- Features: There are HDMI cables that has extra features, such as gold-plated connectors, which prevent oxidation and corrosion and keep the cable performing at a high level. Another feature is the gripping connector, which is created to grip the HDMI port firmly in order to prevent accidental connections and signal loss.
Types of Hdmi Cables
There are two types of cables available in the market: HDMI standard and HDMI high speed. While standard cables can handle up to 1080i, high-speed cables are capable of handling more than 1080i. The price difference is not much, but high-speed HDMI cables are known for the exceptional quality of images.
HDMI standard cables are further classified into three kinds: HDMI standard, HDMI standard automotive, and HDMI standard with Ethernet. The HDMI high-speed cables come with two different configurations: the regular version and the one with Ethernet. The HDMI cables with Ethernet can transmit an Internet connection along with data. The automotive type is specially designed to work in automobiles.
There are various HDMI versions. The initial HDMI 1.0 had a single-cable video/audio connection with a bit rate of 4.9 Gbps. The 1.1 version supported in addition the multi-channel audio for DVD-audio. HDMI Version 1.2 added more support for Super Audio CD or SACD, and also included HDMI connectors for computers as well. Version 1.4 added the feature of Ethernet, which enables the HDMI 1.4 device to be connected with other Internet-ready devices which support the HDMI 1.4 feature.
What reviewers say
After going through thousands of HDMI cable reviews, we found out that this is what experts and users look for as pre-requisites before buying HDMI cables.
Buy from a licensed manufacturer: When you buy an HDMI cable, ensure that it is not a counterfeit, but a product from a licensed manufacturer. It should be properly tested for good performance.
Generic brands also work well: One good thing about HDMI cables is that you need not worry about the brand name and the cost. Generic, inexpensive HDMI cables will offer premium-quality images and good quality audio like their high-priced cousins. For analog media, the quality of the cable will matter, but in the digital world, even the inexpensive cables can work fine.
Always buy the HDMI cable last: If you have a television, buy the accessories and products like the Blu-ray player first, and only then the HDMI, so that you know exactly what you require to be compatible with your hardware.
Check for the features you want: Look for features in the HDMI cable which will be compatible with all the HDMI devices you use. If both your television and Blu-ray device have 3D viewing capabilities, your HDMI cable should be able to support this feature.
Look for the latest version: HDMI cables are still evolving, and it is best to look for the latest version which supports 3D viewing and high speed. Take a look at the product and find out whether it has a “high-speed” blue label. Even if you are getting an old cable at a runaway price, it is best to avoid it, as it may not be compatible with your television.
Take the measurements: The price of the HDMI cable depends on its total length; buying extra cable not only means extra cost, but the quality of the image will be hampered. For a normal entertainment unit, you may need a 6- to 12-foot long cable; for a complex wiring system, you need even longer cables.
Monoprice: A brand known for its fine range of products at a competitive price, Monoprice can handle all technical specifications like 1080p, 3D, and 4K video signals. If you have a home theater, Monoprice Select is the best companion it can have.
AudioQuest: AudioQuest is best known for long HDMI cables. If you want a 15-foot long cable, AudioQuest Pearl is your best choice. It is a little more expensive than its peers, but the sheer brilliance of engineering which goes into making an AudioQuest cable helps provide greater bandwidth even over long distances.
AmazonBasics: If you are looking for neither flashy nor expensive products, AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cable is the ideal choice. It does not have a braided version but can handle almost every type of video signal.