What are the Different Types of HDMI Cables?
Several HDMI cable types exist in the market, each designed to meet a particular performance standard. And with continuous technological advancements emerging, HDMI specifications are correspondingly adjusted to ensure optimal capability and performance. With such variety, consumers may find it frustrating when determining the cable type best suited for their needs.
To assist us in exploring cable options, a basic guide is provided below. It will give us an overview of the cable types, their capabilities and how to differentiate them from each other. Furthermore, all HDMI cable products are required to be labeled with Cable Name Logos provided by HDMI Licensing Administrator Inc. To pick out the right cable, it’s highly recommended that consumers look for these logos whenever purchasing.
Cable Name Logos for HDMI Cable Types
Standard HDMI Cable
The Standard HDMI Cable is designed to handle most home applications. It is tested to reliably transmit 720p up to 1080i, which are High-Definition (HD) resolution. This cable does not transmit 1080p (also an HD resolution), Ultra-HD (UHD) (3840×2160) and 4K (4096×2160) resolutions. Standard HDMI Cables are recommended for cable and satellite televisions, screen projectors, digital broadcast HD, upscaling DVD players, and other common displays.
Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet
Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet offers the same baseline capabilities and performance as that of Standard HDMI Cables. Additionally, it has a dedicated data channel, known as the HDMI Ethernet Channel. Both linked devices should have HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled for data transmission functionality.
Note that this cable does not transmit 4K resolution. Likewise, very few products exist which can support Ethernet over HDMI compatibility. For example, Blu-Ray Disc Players and Home Theater Systems support Ethernet streaming channels.
Standard Automotive HDMI Cable
The Standard Automotive HDMI Cable is designed for internal cabling of vehicles equipped with onboard high-definition video and audio systems. It supports 720p up to 1080i resolution but does not support the HDMI Ethernet Channel.
An automotive system may be wired with one or more internal relays that can affect signal strength. To compensate with this, this cable needs to send a stronger signal than other cable types. Hence, Standard Automotive HDMI Cables are tested to a much higher performance standard.
A resistant cable, this cable type can withstand the unique stresses (vibration and temperature extremes) present in motoring environments. Using this automotive connection system, car manufacturers now can have a viable solution for HD distribution within a vehicle.
High-Speed HDMI Cable
High-Speed HDMI Cables handle resolutions of 1080p up to 4K at 60 Hz. This type also includes display technologies such as 3D and Deep Color. High-Speed HDMI Cables are recommended in a configuration where a 1080p display is being connected to a 1080p source, such as 4K-capable video game console or a Blu-Ray Disc Player.
High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
High-Speed HDMI Cables with Ethernet provide the same features of High-Speed HDMI Cables including resolutions of 1080p to 4K. It also includes display technologies such as 3D and Deep Color. Similar to Standard HDMI Cables with Ethernet, it has a dedicated channel called the HDMI Ethernet Channel. Both linked devices should have HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled for data transmission functionality.
There are very few products that support Ethernet over HDMI compatibility. For example, Blu-Ray Disc Players and Home Theater Systems support Ethernet streaming channels.
High-Speed Automotive HDMI Cable
This cable is for automotive use and is designed and tested to meet higher performance requirements for High-Speed HDMI Cables. It is enabled to handle resolutions of 1080p and beyond, including advanced display technologies such as 4K, 3D and Deep Color.
Premium High-Speed HDMI Cable and Premium High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
These are special certification designations for High-Speed HDMI Cables that have been designed for reliable performance when using Ultra-HD (UHD) or 4K videos. These cables include features such as resolution at 60 frames per second with High-Dynamic Range (HDR), expanded color spaces including BT:2020 and 4:4:4 chroma sampling.
These cables offer low EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) that reduces interferences with nearby wireless devices. They are also identified by HDMI’s Licensing Administrator’s Premium HDMI Cable Certification Label for authentication verification.
Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cable
Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cables can deliver high-bandwidth features including 4K, 5K (5120×2880), 8K (1780×4320), and 10K (10328×7760) at 120 Hz. This cable supports 48 Gbps bandwidth and features low EMI. It also includes the HDMI Ethernet Channel as a valuable feature. It is backward compatible and can be used with the existing installed base of HDMI devices.
Which HDMI Cable Do You Need?
Equipped with basic knowledge of the various cable types and their features, how then do we choose? Why select one type of cable over the other? It actually boils down to your purpose. In other words, the cable you choose depends upon the end result you want to achieve, particularly your viewing preference.
While eight HDMI cable types exist, all these were fundamentally derived from only two certification standards – Standard and High-Speed.
If you’re content with High-Definition (HD) viewing experience (720p to 1080p resolution), the Standard HDMI cable is best for you. Cable and satellite televisions, projectors, digital broadcast HD, DVD players, and other common displays work perfectly fine using this cord. Now if having the same features and performance as the Standard HDMI cable is what you want, all the while making wired internet connection (Ethernet) possible, then perhaps the Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet is for you. Otherwise, if resistant, internal cabling for audio/video vehicles is what you’re looking for, the Standard HDMI Automotive cable becomes the right choice.
Generally, High-Speed HDMI cables offer greater data transfer speeds and support higher resolution than that of the Standard HDMI. So if a viewing experience with far better image clarity, color, and overall quality is desired, opt for these cables. They support resolutions of 1080p to 4K with add-on display features including 3D viewing and richer color palettes. If Ethernet is required or if it’s for automobiles, then choose high-speed cables designed for Ethernet and for automobiles, respectively. It’s that simple.
There are Premium High-Speed HDMI Cables with and without Ethernet features as well. These premium certifications signify that the cables have undergone more rigorous performance and capabilities tests. Needless to say, these cables are guaranteed to give a more reliable 4K performance, higher bandwidths and wider color palettes than their non-certified cable counterparts. The certified versions are nonetheless optional.
For even higher resolutions (5K, 8K and 10K) with Ethernet features, the Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cable is the best option. These cables will provide you the ultimate cinematic experience you need.
Do You Really Need A New HDMI Cable?
Say you have a new 4K television set, or that the latest home theater model is coming your way. Does this mean you have to toss out your current HDMI cables and purchase new ones as well? There are no clear-cut answers here as it all depends on the situation.
To emphasize again, the end usage will affect the decision of buying a new HDMI cable. If you don’t have the most appropriate cable for a particular function, then you really have to buy a new one. You can’t just use an existing Standard HDMI cable when you want the HD experience in your vehicle – it’s just not built for that kind of environment. Or rather use an automobile HDMI cable when you want Ethernet features, just because they’re both labeled as High-Speed. What we have to be firm about is to use an HDMI cable devised and constructed for its designated function.
It’s also important to note that all material things, including HDMI cables, are subjected to the natural wear-and-tear process. Structural and functional degradations occur over time and the older it becomes, the more the cable becomes susceptible to failure. Always consult cable manuals or your professional service provider about the cable’s projected lifespan. Unless you risk getting crappy reception during football championships or, much worse situations, replace old cables with new ones.
It actually doesn’t hurt to consider your display device’s specifications before deciding on the cable to use it with. If your display supports HD (720p to 1080i) viewing, then the Standard HDMI Cables you already have are perfectly fine. When your display says its HD (1080p), UHD or 4K-compatible, then consider using High-Speed HDMI Cables instead. Likewise, for higher resolutions ranging from 5K to 10K, it is highly recommended to use Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cables.
Remember that these cables are international standards – these were tested and proven to work best for certain display conditions. These are not just cables randomly assigned with numbers nor functions. Having a theoretical approach by following approved cable standards hence should not be eliminated in the picture.
Much controversy has sparked over the years due to the claims that all HDMI cables are more or less the same. That we can’t know for sure. It is important to note that these are product reviews of various people, using various product brands, at different times. So relying on these words to buy or not to buy new cables doesn’t seem to be right.
It’s likely that you have some HDMI cables already and upon checking with your display device, they are compatible. It’s entirely possible they will work out, but then again, they might not. The only way to know for sure is to test them out. If your media source sends 4K signals and your display device is receiving them, then you’re all set. Otherwise, double check your set-up first before considering new cables.
Easily-Mixed Concepts About HDMI Cables
With several HDMI cable types, coupled with different brands up-selling these products for profit, consumer confusion is natural and relatable. While we cannot offer all, here are some concepts every cable purchaser and user should know:
1. HDMI Cables Have No “Versions”
HDMI Cables have certification standards – they are generally either Standard or High-Speed cables. But there is no such thing as HDMI Cable “versions” as in HDMI “2.0” cable. The version numbers refer to the actual HDMI connections in your gadgets. In other words, your TV may be designed to have HDMI 2.0 inputs, but your HDMI cable is just an HDMI cable. You don’t have to exhaust yourself finding an HDMI “2.0” cable for “compatibility” purposes because there is none.
Let’s further take a look into this. For display devices of resolution-version combination of 1080p-HDMI 1.4 and 4K-HDMI 2.0, High-Speed HDMI cables will equally work. Why? Because of these cables, as discussed earlier, support resolutions of 1080p to 4K. Notice that the HDMI versions of the display devices are irrelevant in the scenario.
2. Always Buy High-Speed HDMI Cables
Standard HDMI cables can handle up to 1080i HD resolution only. Whereas High-Speed HDMI Cables can handle resolutions of 1080p and beyond, coupled with several features for a better viewing experience. In fact, most HDMI cables sold in electronic stores are High-Speed cables. They may cost more than the standard ones, but the price difference is very negligible. Do not sacrifice the superb benefits you can obtain from High-Speed HDMI cables over a few additional bucks.
3. HDMI Cable Performance is Price-Independent.
Salespeople, retailers, and manufacturers want us to believe that expensive HDMI cables bring better pictures and audio/visual quality. Many disreputable companies market HDMI cables and outright lie to consumers about their advantages over the cheap ones. Others use fancy words and version numbers with extensive technical explanations to purposely confuse consumers into buying. The bottom line here is that price does not guarantee cable performance and hence should not be used as a cable-purchasing basis.
Not all HDMI cables are created the same. Some brands maybe were fabricated and tested at stricter performance and quality standards than the others. Subsequently, a batch of HDMI cables within that high-quality brand may have lower performance test results than the other batches. There’s just no way of knowing which is better than the other, so forth, and so on. Hence, be cautious of buying unreasonably high-priced cables as you might be ripped off.
HDMI cables are impressive innovations capable of advancing audio/video experiences into the next level. Granted that there are several HDMI cable types in the current market, being a keen and resourceful consumer prevents confusion. Knowing your preferences clearly and familiarizing features of these cables will certainly assist you in choosing the right one. In addition, practical factors and smart tips as well should be considered when purchasing to avoid mistakes and misfortunes.