This may come as a surprise to some home theater enthusiasts, but up until HDMI version 1.4 there are only two versions for HDMI cables: standard speed and high speed.
Many HDMI versions that have been released over the past several years, but the versions refer to the possible set of features built into the home theater components, such as HDTVs, Blu-ray players and amplifiers. The version numbers had nothign to do with the cables. The reason that versions were included on the cables was just to assure consumers of the compatibility with current HDMI component feature standards.
The only difference between a standard speed cable and a high speed cable is the bandwidth that each can handle. Almost every cable produced today should be a high speed cable. I mentioned that the versions were included because versions are no longer used due to the amount of confusion they created. So if the sales rep where you bought your home theater components told you that you needed to upgrade your high speed HDMI cables to the newest version to remain compatible, or that you had to buy a $100 cable to get the best quality, he or she was either misinformed or was just trying to sell you new overpriced cables.
A $20 high speed cable works exactly the same as a $100 high speed cable.
Here are the definitions for a standard speed HDMI cable versus a high speed HDMI cable.
Standard speed HDMI cable These are also sometimes called category 1 cables. Standard speed HDMI cables perform at speeds of 75Mhz and up to 2.25Gbps. This is compatible with a 720p/1080i signal.
High speed HDMI cable These are called category 2 cables. High speed HDMI cables are rated for speeds of 340Mhz and can transfer up to 10.2Gbps of data. This is the highest bandwidth currently available over an HDMI cable and can successfully handle 1080p signals.
The important part is to look for the words “High Speed” on the packaging when you buy a cable. You will only rarely find this designation marked on the cable itself.
The organization the controls the standards for HDMI home theater components recently dropped the use of version numbers, so you will no longer see version numbers on either cables or home theater components.
The new standard now includes five different “named versions” for cables. Each new version name is a designation for a cable built for a specific purpose.
Here are the new version names that should appear on cable packages.
Standard HDMI – This is the same as the old standard speed cable. It is certified for resolutions up to 1080i. I don’t think you will see these on the market because there isn’t much demand for them today.
Standard HDMI with Ethernet – This is a standard cable with an additional Ethernet channel for Internet-ready hoe theater components. Since all of the new Internet-ready home theater components require high speed cables, I don’t think you will see this one in the stores, either.
Automotive HDMI Cable – A high speed cable built with a heavy-duty jacket and connectors made to withstand the vibrations and temperatures that it may be subjected to in automotive use.
High Speed HDMI Cable – This is the same high speed cable that has been sold for several years. Your older high speed cables will still work just fine.
High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet – Internet-ready home theater components only need this if all of the components are have the HDMI Ethernet Channel ready designation and you wish to use the Internet features. it is a high speed cable with an additinal Ethernet connection. The idea here is that you can have multiple Internet-ready devices and all can be run on a single Ethernet Internet connection.
I hope this clears up some of the confusion regarding HDMI versions.