HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. An HDMI cable is digital interface connector that transmits both video and audio signals. A single HDMI cable can be used to replace all of the cable connections between a high definition television and other high definition devices, such as a Blu-ray player.
Other methods can be used to connect home theater video components, such as component video, S-video and DVI (digital visual interface). These are legacy type connections that may not have the ability to work properly with some of the latest high definition technologies, such as 1080p resolution and Deep Color. Most HDTVs require the use of an HDMI cable to achieve 1080p resolution from Blu-ray or HD DVD players or cable boxes. It is therefore safe to assume that you should use a quality HDMI cable, at least when matching 1080p video components to any 1080p HDTV.
Are all the cables the same?
No. According to the official HDMI site, there are two types of cables. Older standard Speed cables, also called Category 1, support 720p and 1080i resolutions. Standard Speed cables are not rated for 1080p. High Speed cables, also called Category 2, are rated for all HDTV resolutions, including 1080p. A Category 1 cable has been tested for speeds up to 75 MHz, while a Category 2 cable is approved for up to 340 MHz. All version 1.3 cables are Category 2 cables.
Do I need to purchase expensive cables?
No, but you should purchase cables from a quality manufacturer. The price on many Monster cables exceeds $100 per cable, but good quality cables can be found for as little as $20. If you have a 720p or 1080i system with a short cable run, almost any cable should work. If you are working with 1080p HDTV equipment, you might want to invest more than $5 for HDMI cables. I’m using a Philips 6 foot High Speed HDMI Cable that I found at Wal-Mart for $35. The cable is certified for 1.3a and works great.
Whether you are using a $120 Monster cable or a $10 El-Cheapo cable, it is important to keep all audio and video cables away from power cords and cables. AC current can create problems with hum on audio cables and can distort video signals. A good rule of thumb is to always keep audio and video cables and speaker wires at least six inches away from power cords whenever possible–and never bundle audio or video cables together with power cords.
What are all the different versions, such as 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3?
The HDMI standard has evolved since it was introduced in 2003. Each new version adds new capabilities. The current standard is 1.3b. The versions are more related to the capabilities that may or may not be required by your home theater components as well as the ability of the cable to deliver those features without loss of quality. All of the versions support 1080p when the cables are certified. The important part to remember is that the HDMI standards refer to the components in a home theater system and not the HDMI cables. The certification on the cable just means that the cable meets the requirements for the standard, but more important is the fact that all HDMI cables that are certified for at least the minimum 1.3 standard will work with 1.3a 1.3b components. In other words, an HDMI 1.3 cable is the same as a 1.3a or 1.3b cable. Nothing has changed with the newer cables, therefore, there is no reason to upgrade to newer cables unless an older 1.3 cable is defective. If you have an older 1.0, 1.1 or 1.2 cable, you will want to upgrade it to a newer 1.3 cable in order to achieve a 108p resolution and assure compatibility with newer audio and video components.
What is the maximum length for an HDMI cable?
The HDMI specifications do not limit cable length, but it is intuitive that long cable runs will lose signal strength. The longer the cable length, the higher the quality requirement become in order to prevent signal degradation or loss. Devices such as HDMI repeaters are available that amplify a signal when very long cable runs are required. There are also special cables with built-in signal amplifiers called active, boosted, amplified or equalized cables that are powered by the HDMI wiring and therefore do not need an external power supply.
Although I have not tried it, from what I have read it is safe to use cables without amplification for runs of up to 10 meters (32.8 feet). It is interesting to note that an AV amplifier with HDMI connectors is considered to be a repeater.
Nice post. I am still a bit unlear about the versions of HDMI, 1.0 to 1.3. You said that they all support 1080p…but what is the difference from version to version?
All of the current HDMI cable versions should support the 1.3a or 1.3b standards.
Like I said, each new standard adds capabilities. These include audio enhancements, such as Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™. They also include video enhancements, such as increased bandwidth (speed), Deep Color and increased contrast. Deep Color allows HD televisions to move from millions of colors to billions of colors by increasing the color depth capability from 24-bit color to 48-bit color. That is more of a feature for the future.
My TV is 1080p, and my receiver and blu-ray player have all the new codecs. This means I need 1.3 correct? How can I tell if my HDMI cable is 1.3 or 1.0? I bought the cables a little over 1 year ago.
Any HDMI cable of reasonable quality purchased a year ago should work fine with 1080p, especially if you only need a cable run of 3 to 6 feet. If the run is short and you keep the HDMI cable away from power cords, it should work fine.
The problem with any HDMI cable is in determining which spec it meets. I have yet to find any cable that indicates that it is a high-speed cable in the manner that is is described on the HDMI site. They indicate that Category 2 cables (high definition) should have that printed on the cable. I think it is safe to assume that Category 1 cables are obsolete and no longer on the market.
Put it this way, if the cable was manufactured in China and you paid less than $10 for it a year ago, it probably does not meet the specifications. Most cables sold today do meet the 1.3 spec. You do not really need a version 1.3 cable. 1.3 just means that it can be used with a amplifiers and HD televisions that have a lot of features that have not yet hit the market. The 1.3 spec pretty much assures future compatibility.
If you need to run an HDMI cable across an AC power cord, do it at a 90 degree angle. That minimizes the interference. Never bundle (tie wrap) a HDMI cable with a power cord. The same goes for speaker wires. Never bundle them with power cords because you can pick up an AC hum. It is always best to keep both video and audio cables at least 6 inches away from power cords whenever possible.
Don’t you need a version 1.3 cable to get DTS-HD, and TrueHD? The cable I have now is a monster cable made for PS3 that cost $100 dollars. I bought it before I knew that you don’t need to spend so much for a quality HDMI. I searched for the cable online to see if it was 1.3, but it doesnt say that it is, but it also doesnt say what version it is. My reciever and my samsung blu-ray player have DTS-HD and all the other new lossless audio codecs, so I need a version 1.3 cable to be able to get lossless audio correct?
Part of the problem is that cables do not indicate which specification they were designed to meet. However, the thing that you need to understand is that cables are not re-deigned to meet new version specifications. Most HDMI cables manufactured three years ago meet the current 1.3b specification. We are just talking about a few wires, some shielding and two connectors. There isn’t any rocket science built into an HDMI cable.
The features that new HDMI versions add are built into your home theater hardware, not the HDMI cables. The version just sets a new minimum standard for working with new hardware features.
I wouldn’t be concerned at all about a Monster cable meeting the current spec. Monster cables are over-engineered as well as overpriced.
hi tech , i buy a new super blu player from lg ,,,,now i turn on the player and the screen put”please wait ” its this correct ,the dvd case dont open either ,i have to buy an hmdi cable to set up first????? ,thanks
I do highly recommend that you use an HDMI cable, but you can set up your Blu-Ray player using component video and digital or optical cable for the audio.
Your issue, however, appears to be the normal, very frustrating boot process for Blue-Ray players. It can take up to two minutes for some Blu-Ray players to boot up, and up to another two minutes for a Blu-Ray disk to load the initial programs and start playing. Some of the new disks are displaying an icon or a message that lets you know this, but some of the older Blu-Ray disks do not.
Some of the newer Blu-Ray players have reduced the boot up times. I expect to see that improve further with future generations of players.
You cannot open or close the disk compartment on most players while the unit is booting.
You did not mention whether or not the disk eventually starts to play. Assuming it does play, everything sounds normal.
Good explanation about the HDMI cable. As Tech says, the HDMI cable is just a cable. It is passing video and audio together. , and it is digital (as in o’s and 1’s0, so if something is wrong something is wrong. i.e., it either works or NOT.
Tec, What I do not see here is the difference between HDMI at 60Hz and HDMI at 120 Hz, that salesmen at either CC or BB want to stick to customers. Would you light some light on the difference? to me it does not matter as the one device that cares about 120 Hz deal is the TV itself, the input whatever wheter 60 or less than 120 will be taken care of by the TV component conversion work!!??
There isn’t any difference between running an HDMI cable with a television running at 60 Hz or the higher quality 120 Hz. As you already figured out, that is a function of the HDTV, and not the cable.
I have a Sony XBR4 with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. All it does is use interpolation to create an additional video frame that averages the actual frames before and after. It is a method for reducing motion blurs. We like action films, so that feature was important to us.
The primary reason why the sales reps at BB or CC try to convince you that you need an expensive Monster cable is because they get $120 to $130 for that cable. The problem is that it doesn’t work any differently than any other cable that meets the HDMI specifications. I’ve seen $15 cables that work just as well.
There is nothing magic or high-tech about any HDMI cable. The connectors are different, but it is basically a DVI cable with audio. Just look for a cable with quality connectors, some shielding on the wiring and a certification or statement that it meets the HDMI standard. Regardless of which cable you buy, keep it away from power cords and power supplies when hooking up your components.
I own a 40″ Sony Bravia with 1080p, and fell for the sales gimmick when i bought the tv (the sales rep told me that I needed the expensive Monster Cable for my ps3). So, in a nutshell, when I go to purchase another one, I just have to make sure that the cable is high speed, Category 2, with a 1.3b specification that is about 3 feet (the cable box is right next to the tv)?
Don’t feel all alone. Most people fall for the Monster Cable pitch. There isn’t anything wrong with a Monster Cable except the price. The guy at Best Buy tried to tell me that I needed a Monster Cable when I bought my Sony XBR4, but I just chuckled and ignored the pitch.
I have not yet seen a cable that states that it is a category 2 cable, like the HDMI site advises you to look for. Even the Monster Cable doesn’t mention that. Just looks for a cable that states that it is 1.3 compatible or certified. I would be suspicious of the $1.99 cables that you find on eBay, but there isn’t any rocket science built into an HDMI cable. I look for good connectors (gold plated) and shielding. I am impressed with the Philips cable I bought at Wal-Mart.
I purchased a 32″ 720p Bravia and plan on hooking it to my cable HD box. The provider included regular cables. Is there any advantage to using HDMI vs these normal cables in this situation?
Also the DVD player I plan on getting has a HDMI plug. Should this be used in this situation over regular cables?
Thanks a lot.
I’m not sure which type of cables are “regular cables”. If they are red, green and blue, they are component video cables. Component video cables can carry a high definition signal, but it is analog, not digital. You probably won’t notice a difference at 720p, but if you had a larger screen 1080p television, it might be worthwhile to use HDMI cables. Most cable companies are transmitting in 720p or 1080i, not the top end HD 1080p.
If you are buying a Blu-ray player (I assume you are if it has HDMI connections), you may want to use an HDMI cable. That is because Blu-ray players have upscaling features. That means it improves the quality of standard DVDs so that they look much better when played on a high definition television. If you do not use HDMI cables, the upscaling feature will not work. I am very impressed with the upscaling features of most Blu-ray players. Most standard DVD movies look pretty good on an upscaling player.
By the way, several surveys that I’ve seen recently have indicated that most people cannot tell the difference between 720p and 1080i. 720p is in itself a big improvement over standard analog television. And the only time you can really take advantage of 1080p is with a Blu-ray player and a 1080p HDTV.
Thanks for the answer. Yes by “regular” I meant component! I did a test and really didn’t see a noticeable difference between the 2 cabling systems picture-wise with my digital cable connection.
One interesting thing I do notice is that using an HDMI connection from the cable box to the TV, and having the cable box using HDMI for the sound output results in much better sound than using the component cables and other sound output choices.
The DVD player I mentioned with HDMI does upscaling but is not Blu-ray. But is sounds like from what you said this is kind of a moot point with 720p to use HDMI. Maybe using HDMI for either connection is overkill.
You probably also have DVI connections on that upscaling player. A DVI connection would also give you digital high definition.
It is interesting that you noticed a difference with the sound quality using HDMI.
HDMI is always my top choice when dealing with a 1080p HDTV and a Blu-ray player, but for other HD combinations you can achieve great results with other connections. But if you already have HDMI cables, you can’t go wrong by using them.
If you read some of my other articles about players, you will find that I am a big fan of upscaling players. I still buy standard DVDs for most of my movie purchases.
I’m confused as to how to maximize the benefit of an HDMI cable. My signal is routed through a Cox cable company supplied VTR box and then into my 720P set. Sound is processed through an 100 watt RMS tuner and Bose surround sound system. I think I understand that an HDMI cable will not greatly improve my picture quality, but could improve the sound. That being the case, do I connect the cable from the VTR box to the receiver?, or…………………?
An HDMI cable is really just an all-in-one cable. You could get the same quality from a DVI connection for video and a coaxial or optical connection for sound.
In your case, if you are not already using a digital connection for sound, you might want to try that, but you are probably not going to see a big difference with a signal from a cable company. That doesn’t match the quality you can get from a Blu-ray player. The most noticeable difference for HDMI is with 1080p resolution and upscaling DVD player setups. If you only have one HDMI cable, use if to connect your Blu-ray player to your HDTV.
It is confusing, isn’t it? It doesn’t help when the sales people are trained to try to convince people that you need to buy a $130 Monster HDMI cable or the quality will suffer. In some cases, HDMI does not offer any advantage at all.
I’m working on a home theater installation and ran into a problem with my hdmi cable. Essentially, it doesn’t work. I didn’t test it beforehand, as I hadn’t all the components. I’m getting the cable replaced, so it’s not a huge deal, but I just had a few questions about some things I wasn’t sure about. When running HDMI through walls, are there any limitations i should be aware of? I stuck to the general low voltage rules, a)cross high voltage at 90 degrees if you have to, (I didn’t), b)don’t run parallel within a foot of high voltage and not for more than 5 feet, (didn’t have to). I did run it bundled with other low voltage cable, mainly coaxial to the cable box, and speaker wire to the surround sound. I couldn’t find anything stating this would cause problems. I also have a couple of fairly sharp turns in it, basically an four 90 degree turns over 4 feet. Again, I couldn’t find anything stating this would cause problems. Does anyone know of anything I’m missing?
You didn’t say how how long the total run is.
It sounds like you are doing everything right. I’ve seen electricians who didn’t know how to run in-wall speaker wires correctly, so kudos for doing your homework. It is OK to bundle HDMI with coax, but just keep it away from any AC lines. AC induces hum and distortion.
The maximum limitation for the length of an unamplified HDMI cable is 15 meters or 50 feet. Some installers say that you really shouldn’t go more than 5 meters or 15 feet without using an amplifier, which is also called a repeater. A lot depends upon the quality of the cable. Check to see what the manufacturer recommends for the maximum run length. It is also a good idea to use shielded cable. You never know what someone will place up against a wall that could affect the signal.
There are cables available with built-in repeaters and there are repeaters that are connected between HDMI cable runs. If you are doing a long run, you might want to look into that. You cannot just put the repeaters at the end of a run. They have to go in the middle of the run.
BTW, any time a cable is connected to an HDMI device, such as a home theater amplifier or an HDMI switch, the digital signal is automatically amplified to full strength. But if the signal is not strong enough to meet a minimum threshold, it fails to be amplified.
I have a Sony XBR 1080p. I am connected to a cable co. (TWC). I have component video cables and HDMI cable and of course coaxial cable. Which and how do I hook them up for best HD reception (knowing it would be better to really go to Dish or Direct). Can you use HDMI from the box to the TV without using the Coaxial cable or do you need to run both? I am dissappointed with the picture resolution compared to satellite and just want to make sure I am hooking up to get the best possible resolution from cable. Thanks!
An HDMI cable carries both audio and video, so you only need a single HDMI cable from the cable box to your HDTV. Don’t hook up the other cables. You could be creating problems with competing signals.
The problem could be with the signal from your cable company. Many cable and satellite companies use 720p for a high definition signal. Some use 1080i. Digital service may be only be 480p. They also use compression techniques to save bandwidth.
Because you have an HDMI connection on your cable box you should have high definition service. A lot of people think that subscribing to a cable company’s digital service means that they have high definition. Digital services does not mean you are receiving high definition.
To improve the picture quality you might try turning down the brightness and the sharpness on your Sony TV. When I first installed my Sony HDTV the picture quality was horrible. In fact, it was so bad that I thought there was something wrong with it. It took about a half hour to get it to look right. The problem was that the factory setup was too bright, too contrasty and too sharp. People looked like cartoons and there were wavy patterns in all the solid areas. Also, try the different video modes on your Sony. Use the one that looks best in your viewing environment.
I bought a Cyberhome dvd player 3 or 4 years ago. It came with a HDMI cable. How can I tell if it is 1.3 certified?
“Certified” just means it has been officially tested. Almost every HDMI cable meets the 1.3 qualifications, except perhaps some of the very cheap cables coming out of China.
The cable itself has not changed over the past few years. Only the features that have been added to the home theater components have changed. The 1.3 certification just means that the cable should work with the new features, but very few of the new features are available on any home theater component other than high-end gear.
Your HDMI cable should work fine. Just follow the basic rules, such as keeping it away from any AC power cords and plug-in power supplies.
Wayne Bailey says
I just purchased a 46 inch Sony XBR4. My hook up is with the color cables that came with the Time Warner HD DVR. I bought a HDMI( 35 dollars ) from Radio shack. I have both hooked up now and go back and forth between the two hook up”s. I can’t tell the difference in picture quality both are fine but the same. What am I doing wrong? Should I stick with the HDMI or the three color cables that came with the HDDVR?
Wayne Bailey, Wells Maine.
What makes you think that you are doing something wrong? Read the August 18 comment about component video connections. That is a high definition connection, but is an analog connection.
The only difference you will probably see is with a 1080p Blu-ray disk. I don’t know what the specs are on the Time Warner HD DVR, but is probably recording in 720p. There are very few cable or satellite high definition connections that transfer video in 1080p. Almost all are currently 720p or 1080i.
If you are not subscribing to a high definition service (digital does not mean high definition), then you are probably recording in a lower resolution, perhaps 480i, which is not high definition. If the resolution is at least 720p, then it is high definiton.
Factoid: The majority of people cannot tell the difference between 720p and 1080p.
Your Sony XBR4 has a 120Hz refresh rate. You will enjoy that for action flicks. No motion blur issues. 😀
Hi, having problems also. I purchased a Sony 40″Z series Bravia and a Denon AVR-1909 receiver. Coax to Comcast HD DVR box, hdmi from the box to the Denon receiver, hdmi from the receiver to the Sony tv. Beautiful picture but no sound. Muting is off and the television is config. for external audio. What did I do wrong? Please Help.
There isn’t enough info to identify the issue.
Try isolating the problem.
Is the Comcast HD DVR also your cable box? Try running the HDMI cable direct from the cable box to the Sony HDTV. If the sound works, the problem is with the configuration or connections to the Denon. If it doesn’t work, check the cable box, the HDMI cable and the HDTV configuration.
By the way, you do not need to configure the HDTV for external audio when you use the HDMI cable. Both audio and video come through the HDMI port, so when you switch to that input port, you should have sound.
We just purchased 32inch vizio hdtv/plasma. We currently subscribe to dishnet, should we upgrade to a hd receiver AND get an hmdi? Or will one do the trick? Thanks for all of the great info I’ve been reading.
ok. just got a panasonic 46 hi def tv with 1080p. do not have blue ray. just have hi def from direct tv. do i necessarily need to have hdmi cables?
Well I connected with Denon and they guided me through a series of checks and advised me that the unit was defective and to return it to one of their dealers. So I don’t know what to do now. I’m a little leary of buying a horse that falls on it’s face right out of the gate.
@Linda – It is up to you to decide if you want to upgrade to HD. An HDMI cable will not do you any good without HD.
@Greg – Please read through the comments on this page. You may never see 1080p quality without using a Blu-ray player. If you do get a Blu-ray player, I would use an HDMI cable, but you do not need to use an HDMI cable for HD. HDMI makes it easier to set up the connections.
@Drew – If the Denon is new, just exchange it. Denon is a good brand name. I also like Yamaha for receiver/amps. Every manufacturer occasionally produces a bad unit. If you are soured on Denon, try something else. Over the years I have had more problems with Sony TVs than with any other brand, yet I still bought a Sony HDTV because it has the features I wanted. For many years Sony TVs were plagued with cold solder joint problems on the circuit boards. I have not seen the problem with newer Sony TVs, so I think they finally resolved the issue.
sorry, one more thing: i have direct tv and they are supposed to be digital signals. why then would they use the component cables, if they are analog? does this mean my signal is not digital coming into the tv?
Wayne Bailey says
Thanks TE for the prompt reply. Either hook ups are great with the XBR 4. Great TV
Drew has the same problem with auidio that I first had when i changed from the colored cables to HDMI .The problem is not with the TV or HDMI. He has got to bring up the audio options on his DVR or whatever and click on HDMI from whatever the audio cable box is set too. My guess is that the Cable box audio is not set for HDMI. Change it and presto you have audio.
No charge for this info TE.
@greg – Direct TV uses digital to analog demodulation (conversion) so that it is compatible with analog televisions and devices. Even after the USA television transmissions convert to digital on February 17, 2009, both cable and satellite companies will continue to convert signals so that the older analog televisions still work.
@Wayne – Thanks for the info. I can’t always answer a question when I cannot see the problem. Sometimes it’s like trying to do surgery while blindfolded. In those situations I have to resort to “poke-and-hope” troubleshooting and use a best guess approach. 😀
I just bought a Sony Bravia 40″. I have it connected through my Yamaha Receiver and I am only using Phillips HDMI cables. We have have a HD DVD converter box and we purchased the upgraded HD package from COX. But sadly we are still getting allot of signal loss for some reason. We have Fiber ran to the house, but can not vouch for the cabling between the demarc and the cable box. Should I replace that cabling or continue troubleshooting the equipment. The HD box says it has 1080i lit up on the box. Cox has tried to push a 1080i signal to the HD box and they said it should shut off, but it never did. So now they want to send a tech out to further TS the problem. Good idea or no?
Are you sure that the problem is signal loss?
If you are using the default video settings for your Sony Bravia, the image quality probably sucks. I have a 52 inch Sony XBR4 and the picture quality was so bad when I first set it up that I almost took it back. I had to turn the contrast and brightness way down and changed the video mode from Vivid to Standard (Cinema is also good).
If you think it might be the cable, just run a new cable from the demarc box, through a window and to your HD converter. That is the easiest way to test the cable.
If you have done all that you can without too much expense, I would have Cox come out and diagnose the problem. Other than trying to replace everything, that is your best option. I use Cox and I know that they have a lot of problems with their equipment. Be aware that they may try to bill you for the call if the problem is cabling or something that is your responsibility.
I had a Cox problem with a signal that was way too strong. My Sony was breaking up and pixelating, which looks similar to a signal loss or drop-out. They both look similar with digital equipment. It took three service calls before anyone put test equipment on the line to verify that the signal was overdriving my gear.
I am not impressed with most service reps from Cox. :/
Is there any true difference between a flat hdmi cable (Atlona) and a normal round constructed cable such as a Phillips cable?
I have not used Atlona HDMI cables, but there should not be a difference as long as the cable is shielded and has good quality connectors and you are not exceeding a 10 meter run. I looked at the specs on their web site and they look pretty good to me.
There isn’t any rocket science built into an HDMI cable.
Im about to buy a 32 inch 720p lcd hdtv. Ill be hooking it up to hd channels and also using ps3 on it. I was just wondering what hdmi cables i should buy, speed wise and price. Also do i need just one?
If you have read through this post then you know that you do not need to spend $100+ for each HDMI cable. Your choices for connections depend upon how large your budget is.
There isn’t any speed issue with any HDMI cable, except perhaps for some ultra-cheap cables from China that are not made to any HDMI spec. I shudder when I see HDMI cables selling for $1.99 on eBay. If a cable meets any of the HDMI specification standards, it should work. There isn’t anything special or high tech about HDMI cables.
If you are trying to keep your expenses down, you can use the component video cables. You are not dealing with a large screen or a high end HD TV. However, HDMI cables can be a convenience item because they get rid of the cable clutter. It you want to use just one HDMI cable, use it with the PS3. You will always get better quality with a Blu-ray player than you will with a cable or satellite box.
i just purchased a new 42” panasonic plasma. i am getting direct tv as my provider, and also subscribed to HD. my reciever box will be at least 15ft from the tv. what cables do i need to run from the tv to the reciever box and from the tv to the dvd player. the dvd is not blu-ray yet but will in the future. i think direct tv will only run to the reciever box and the extra 15ft is my problem. is dcableing a good place online to buy cables.
You can run either HDMI cables or component video and sound cables. The HDMI cables include sound and video and your can get HDMI in up to 30 foot lengths in some stores. Do not daisy-chain multiple cables in a string unless you have to. Multiple connections can create signal loss. Figure out the total length you need and buy the correct length for the cables.
If I had to do a 15 foot run, I would use HDMI for both the satellite receiver and the future Blu-ray player, but if your current DVD player is not Blu-ray, you will need to run additional cables for that. You can get s-video and other cables in 15 foot lengths from the online cable stores.
I am not familiar with the store that you mentioned. Look at the specification and compare the specs to other cables. I look for HDMI cables with gold-plated connections and shielded wires.
Keep your HDMI cables away from power cords and AC wiring. However you decide to run your cables, do not run a power cord along with your video and audio cables. You may pick up hum in the audio and the video may become distorted. It is always a good idea to try to keep all video and audio cables at least 6 inches away from power cords. You can cross an AC line at a right angle, but never run them parallel and never bundle them together.
Allan Morris says
Hi, great articel and showed me alot about hdmi, however i am wondering what all the seperate cable mean………i have an xbox 360 so it has different enders to that of a normal hdmi, it has six different colours, red and white which i presume is the same as the analog of old but now i think there is a yellow, red blue and green???? however on the back of both of my tv;s i only have five ports and so the yellow one is not connected which has made me wonder what is it meant for?? i thought it may have been a problem with my older tv (not top range and not expensive) but just bought a samsung top range and it too only has five ports??? can you help explain please
Cheers in advance,
Sorry, I do not work with the Xbox. The user manual should tell you what each port does.
Maybe someone else has an answer for you.
I am confused. I was always told that something is only as strong or good as its weakest link. If I have Comcast supply my house with a signal via coxial wall jack, how can that signal be improved by having it go thru an HDMI cable (from my cable box to the TV)? Wouldn’t the signal be only as good as the coxial it is supplied from, and if that is true, why would I use an HDMI cable instead of a coxial from my cable box to the TV?
You are almost right about the cable.
If you are using coaxial cable from your cable box to your HDTV, you are not sending a high definition signal to your HDTV. A coax cable is used for standard television transmissions or with a digital cable box. However, a digital cable box does not deliver high definition. With digital cable, the signal is clearer than standard cable, but it is not high definition. The big thing with digital cable is all of the good shows on the digital channels.
If you have an HD cable box, you will be using either HDMI or component video cables to deliver high definition video from the HD cable box to your TV. The cable companies deliver a special signal to the HD cable box via standard cable and the box converts it to high definition. It is not high definition until it is converted.
An HDMI cable does not convert anything. It can only carry the HD signal from an HD source to your HDTV. The cables are nothing special. The HD devices and the ports (connections) that they use require the special cables.
High definition televisions and Blu-ray players upscale or convert a signal to simulated high definition video, so you can in fact improve a video signal to make it look like a higher resolution. Most Blu-ray players do a good job of converting standard DVDs to near HD quality.
We purchased a Panason 46″ plasma Viera – Im about to upgrade our cable to recieve the HD channels and get the cable box.
A basic ($30) HDMI cable that is 1.3a ready will be all i need to connect the HD cable box to the TV and begin my HD viewing, is that correct? Or will I suffer anything by not purchasing a specifc HDMI cable?
There is no such thing as a specific HDMI cable. The 1.3a specification just means that the cable will work with the latest components, but almost all HDMI cables will work with the latest components.
The $30 cable should work fine. Just follow the advice we have given and look for a cable that is shielded and keep it away from AC cords.
I purchased a 4′ monster cable online for $26, when I get it I see that it says it supports up to 1080i and I see it has a 2005 copyright. There is no indication of the hdmi version (1.0, 1.3, ect.) Should I use this for my 1080p Pioneer tv to directv box? The directv installer gave me a cable, it is pretty thin and I have no idea what version or speed they are.
Thanks in advance.
Either HDMI cable should work. The cables that come with some Blu-ray players are pretty thin and they still work. Just keep the HDMI cable away from AC cords.
The version you find on any cable is likely to be the current component specification level. Unless you have a bad solder or crimp connection on a cheap cable, they will all work. I prefer cables with shielding and gold-plated connection pins, but almost any HDMI cable will work. HDMI cables are just cables. There is nothing hi-tech about them.
We just got our 47″ Vizio LCD flat screen TV and we noticed that even though our TV is 120 mhz, we still seem to get choppy frame rates when we watch TV. There’s this sort of stutter going on. Will changing the HDMI cable we have to a high speed one do anything to help this or is it our service provider? Also, we do have Verizon FIOS for our cable, if that helps.
Changing the HDMI cable will probably not fix this, unless you have a defective HDMI cable with poor connections. Is the current HDMI cable at least 6 inches away from all AC power cords? AC power cords can disrupt the signals, especially if the cable is not shielded.
It sounds like you have a bandwidth or cabling problem with Verizon. You might want to report it to them. I think they guarantee the reception quality.
There could also be some configuration issues with the HDTV. Check the troubleshooting section of the Visio manual. The factory configurations on most HDTVs are pretty screwed up.
Darrell Texas says
Hello ??? Anyone !!
First of all, I’m a dinasour but have been trying to keep up with all the new technology… it is truly amazing what can be done now.
Anyhow! I just purchased the “whole ball of wax” – 40 inch LCD (Sharp-Aquos), Advanced Super View, High Performance TFT-LCD..with 1080P and has more ports on it than I have ever seen… 3 of wich are HDMI. Have my HD cable box with an HDMI port, a Bose 3-2-1 system with an HDMI, and a JVC VHS/DVD player/recorder with tuner.
My “drama” is all the cables !! I have read all the comments thus far here and “think” I have a handle on it but… here we go again! Can I just use the HDMI connections from the cable box to the TV, then an HDMI cable from VHS/DVD and one from the Bose 3-2-1 system?? Surely, it can’t be that simple.
I am still dealing with (and have learned to) writing down which imput is connected to which componet – TV/Cable, VHS/DVD, Bose System. Can someone please help get this straight in the “older person” ?? PLEASE !!!
Mucho Gracias’ – Darrell
I am not familiar with the Bose 1-2-3 system, but I did find the manuals on the Bose web site. The manuals did not answer some of my questions.
The simple answer is “Yes”, but with that configuration you may only be able to select a single component (DVD/VHS or Bose or cable box channels) at a time to use with the HDTV.
Ideally, you want to run the DVD/VHS player and the cable box through the Bose system to take advantage of the Bose sound system, but it looks like the Bose system only has a single HDMI port. I assume this is an upscaling DVD/VHS player if it has an HDMI connector. If it is not an upscaling player, it will not have an HDMI port. Also, unless you have a high definition cable box, it will not have an HDMI connector.
Unless all of the components have HDMI connectors, you cannot hook everything up using HDMI.
I know that this does not fully answer your question, but the question does not have a simple answer. There are numerous ways to configure home theater systems, depending upon the specific components that you use. Perhaps someone with a Bose 1-2-3 system can add to this.
Follow the steps in the Bose manual to configure your system. If it is still confusing or does not work properly, you may have to have to find someone locally who can configure the system properly.
Gar Petersen says
Tonight I bought 2 sets of HDMI Cables. I just rec’d the Sunfire Theater Grand 3 Receiver today. I went to BB and was informed that if I bought the new Pioneer Blue Ray DVD player for $500, it would be a good idea to buy the highest quality HDMI Cables having more than 10 Gbps costing $130 for one cable. We already have a less expensive Magnavox Blue Ray DVD player; I was still encouraged to purchase the Monster Cable Ultra 800 at 6.68 Gbps transfer rate costing $90.00 for one cable. I bought 2, plus some Monster Banana Plugs.
I got to thinking about about that HIGH price–(I greatly hesitated to begin with, espeically in light that I’m unemployed and my wife works two jobs). I went to Walmart and purchased 2 Philips HDMI High Speed 1.3 Cables costing $30 a piece for the MOST expensive 3 foot HDMI Cable. (I hope it is long enough). I also have a 6 footer identical to the others, but twice the length.
My question is what is the transfer rate of 1.3a HDMI Cable? Does it come close to the 6.68 Gbps Monster Cable I bought for $90, which I plan to return ASAP. Could it be that even though the Philips is much less, that it has an even higher rate transfer rate than 6.68 Gbps?? The package does not say, and the sales clerk could not locate that information. I thought the price of $90 per cable was expensive for the 6.68 Gbps transfer rate, but the 10Gbps is even more rediculous at #130 per cable. My question is how the Philips transfer rate of 1.3a compare these other transfer rates???
Forget about the higher transfer rates claimed by Monster. IMHO is marketing hype. You will not get a better quality image or sound from the Monster cable versus the Philips HDMI cable.
The HDMI version does not apply to the cables. It applies to the components in your home theater system. That is where people get confused and where sales people take advantage of them. I think that the sales people actually believe that you will need Monster cables in order to get the best quality, but it is absolutely not true.
The HDMI version stated on cables merely means that the cable complies to the current standard for components. Almost all HDMI 1.1 cables will work fine with current systems. The only place I draw a line is with some of the cheap, poor quality cables coming from China with poor solder connections and connectors.
Monster cables are typically overbuilt (and overpriced), but there is no benefit to have a 200 MPH speed limit if your car can only do 70 MPH. Copper wire is copper wire. Look for a name brand with good quality connectors (gold plated pins) and a shielded cable. Most $20 or $30 cables will work every bit as good as a $130 Monster cable.
It is worthwhile to cruise through the HDMI site and read the FAQ section. It will answer almost all of your questions about HDMI.
Quote from FAQs: “For consumers, there is no difference between HDMI version 1.3 and 1.3a or 1.3b. These minor revisions to the specification typically relate to manufacturing or testing issues and do not impact features or functionality.”
In other words, if any 1.3, 1.3a or 1.3b cable complies with the standard, it will work.
Also in the FAQs: “HDMI 1.3 increases its single-link bandwidth to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbps) to support the demands of future HD display devices, such as higher resolutions, Deep Color and high frame rates. In addition, built into the HDMI 1.3 specification is the technical foundation that will let future versions of HDMI reach significantly higher speeds.”
This means that ALL HDMI cables that are certified for the minimum 1.3 specification are capable of transferring signals with a 10.2 Gbps bandwidth.
I stressed buying a brand name cable because if a brand name company states that their cable meets the 1.3a or 1.3b standard, it probably does. A $4 cable purchased on eBay probably does not.
I have read through all of the questions and answers posted here and have yet one more to add, though I don’t see how that is possible. (Thanks for your patience with everyone).
We have Comcast Cable on ONE television in our family room. I just ordered a Samsung LN-32A650 tv for my son’s birthday (for his bedroom). I took your advice and bought a HDMI certified cable. That brings me to my question. When I hook my son’s new Samsung up to the his PS3 with the certified HDMI cable, will his PS3 games and DVDs still be in high def? I believe the answer is yes, but sometimes a mom needs to hear the answer from someone else to get peace of mind.
Thanks for all of your help!
I don’t know about your son’s games, because we do not work with the PlayStation 3, but standard DVDs played thought the system will be in “simulated” high definition due to the upscaling feature built into all Blu-ray players. Blu-ray disks will play in high definition provided that you have the PS3 hooked up to an HDTV with the HDMI cable. The level of resolution will depend upon the capabilities of the HDTV.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. The TV we bought is Full HD 1920×1080 resolution and a 15,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. So, it sounds like what you are saying is – as long as we hook the PS3 to the TV with the certified HDMI cable we purchased, we will get a decent picture.
There is no need to respond to this message (unless I misunderstood your statement), I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer my question.
We’ve just purchased a Samsung 67″ 1080p with U-verse HD service. The U-verse aspect/ratio options available are standard, wide-screen standard, 780p and 1080i. When either the 780 or 1080 HD option is selected, the image doesn’t fit on the screen, with everything stretched to where the station logos are cut off, the channel guide is partly missing, etc. This happens regardless of the TV setting, but when in either standard mode, it works fine. The guys at U-verse seem dumbfounded. Is this something an HDMI cable may correct, as well as making the picture more hd? I’ve been told U-verse hd is not that great.
Thanks in advance!
I’m not familiar with AT&T’s U-verse service and their web site does not offer much useful information. It’s mostly marketing fluff.
An HDMI cable is not going to correct an aspect ratio issue, although I’m not sure why you would be running a nice 67″ Samsung 1080p without an HDMI cable. You didn’t say which connection you are using, but I assume it is component video. You need one or the other for HD.
Your issue sounds like a mismatch in the aspect ratios between standard screen size (4:3 ratio) and HD (16:9 ratio) with the U-verse receiver and the Samsung HDTV. The problem is most likely with the U-verse receiver setup.
If you do not already have it, there is a downloadable User Guide at:
that shows you how to configure the aspect ratio (page 14) using the remote.
If that doesn’t lead to a resolution, you might insist that AT&T swap out the receiver. It is their responsibility to find and correct the problem.
Thx for the response, Doogie.
It appears an HDMI cable is all I needed for everything to work as it should. I had the TV delivered and installed a few days ago and no one ever mentioned about the HDMI cable.
I’ve learned a lot from this site, but still need help from someone much more informed than I am. I recently upgraded my TV to a Samsung LN52A650. It’s a 52″ 1080p 120HZ unit. I have Cox cable with HD service through an Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8240HDC unit.
My prior Samsung had no picture issues, but the new TV has a constant minor jiggling. This jiggling does not appear on any other picture input, only cable, and the jiggling stops if I use component instead of HDMI cable. I have swapped HDMI cables with no effect, and the cables have heavy shielding and are at least 6″ away from power cords.
Cox say that none of their boxes are HDMI 1.3 – only 1.0, but don’t know if this is a factor. Any ideas would be most welcome!
It is very unusual that you only experience the problem while using an HDMI cable. The HDMI 1.0 is not a factor. HDMI 1.0 just describes features that Cox provides through their cable box. They obviously do not use the advanced features you might find with an HDMI 1.3 component.
I would first try connecting to a different HDMI port on your Samsung, just to verify that the problem is not with the HDTV.
If the problem persists, I would suspect the cable box. A friend of mine who works for Cox tells me that when a cable box is found to be defective and rejected by a tech, it is not sent in for repair. Rather, they send it back into the field to see if it will work with another customer’s configuration. The Cox techs travel around with multiple replacement boxes and keep swapping them out until they find one that works. A cable box needs to be rejected multiple times before they send it in for repair. It seems like a waste of time to me, but that is what I am told that they do.
Complain to Cox about the problem. Most metro areas have Cox service centers where you can swap cable boxes without a service charge. If you are paying Cox a monthly maintenance fee, then have them come out and swap the box.
Let us know if that fixes the problem.
Chris R says
I just bought a 46″ Sony LCD TV and was wondering….do I need an HDMI cable as I am “borrowing” cable? That is to say, the company never turned it off when the prior tenant moved out? Also, since I don’t have a box, will I have to suffer poorer picture and sound quality on my new tv? I hate to have a new tv and not be able to maximize it’s potential!
An HDMI cable will not improve the quality because you are likely receiving only standard definition signals. You will have to subscribe to a digital service or the cable company’s HD service in order to improve the quality.
if i connect hdmi cable to ps3 is there any differant on the game picture?
You probably will not see a difference unless it was a high definition game. It would be a good idea to use an HDMI cable if you use your PS3 to play Blu-ray movies with an HDTV.
I don’t use a PlayStation 3, so perhaps someone who has tried this can add more to the response.
hi, good day i want to know what is the difference between the HDMI 1.3a repeater and HDMI switching?
According to the definition on the HDMI.org site, a repeater is, “A device that both receives and sends HDMI signals, such as an AV receiver. A/V receivers are considered HDMI repeaters.” You can only run HDMI cable runs up to 10 meters without using a repeater. A Repeater is just a signal amplifier. Longer cables have repeaters built in that are powered by the HDMI cable.
A switch is a multi-port repeater that allows you to connect multiple HDMI devices to your HDTV. Here is an example of an HDMI switch on Amazon. Take a look and the difference should be obvious.
The HDMI specifications require that every electronic device that the signal passes though include a repeater to assure peak signal strength.
We just bought a Sony XBR9 and the sales person recommended a Monster HDMI cable and surge protector (MC 1000HD-2M, MPHDP900)… from earlier posts I gather the Monster HDMI cable is overpriced (RadioShack equivalent will do).
What about the surge protector… is it necessary?
Are there other options to protect the TV from surges?
Thanks in advance for your advice and have a good 4th,
In my opinion, every home theater should have a surge protector. It protects the components in your AV system from voltage spikes. Voltage spikes can damage or shorten the life of the system components.
This is a situation where the $9.95 power strips that claim to have surge protection built-in do not do very much to protect your system. It is worthwhile to invest in a good surge protector.
Eric Dussolier says
I have a new 50 inches Panasonic plasma TV hooked up to my Dish network receiver box through a 1.3 certified HDMI cable. The distance between the box and the TV is less than 5 feet. Sometimes the sound drops for a couple of seconds and goes back up and I have no idea why. The picture quality is fine. It does that everyday. Some help would be welcome. Thanks.
There isn’t enough information to diagnose the problem, but the problem is not likely to be the HDMI cable. About a dozen things could cause the sound to drop out, including any obstructions between your satellite dish and the satellite. Check your signal strength on the satellite box and make sure that you do not have any trees or power lines obstructing the signal. Make sure that all of your connections are tight.
If you do not know how to check the signal strength, then read the manual for the Dish Network box or call Dish Network.