What is a HDMI Cable ?

All cables are not created equally – that is a literal statement ! In my opinion, their has been a paradigm shift in the cable world. This shift is for the better ! For the most part, analogous to the convergence of voice, video and data in the communication space, so too, there has been a convergence in the cables that carry them. The perfect example of this is the HDMI cable. These days, the HDMI port and cable is ubiquitous in both the Computer and Consumer Electronic world. It makes perfect sense, it can be used as a “smart” interface for almost any device that needs to transmit and receive HD signals. Simply, the HDMI cable and port is the best of all worlds:

Quality – All crystal clear digital vs. Analog. No conversion process to distort the signal.

Smart – HDMI connected devices has two way communication with each other. This enables new functionality such as automatic configuration or one-touch play.

HD Content Protection – This is done using a copy right protection protocol name High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) developed at INTEL. This will allow consumers to access premium content that can not be copied in transit.

Ease Of Use – Multiple cables are combined into one to prevent “rat nesting” for a simpler setup and hook-up. With billions of HDMI enabled devices shipped, there is little doubt that it will be the multimedia connection medium of choice. Therefore, using this interface will future proof your entertainment hardware investment.

So, what does HDMI mean anyway ? The acronym stands for: High Definition Multimedia Interface. The High Definition (HD for short) aspect of it is obvious (somewhat ! Since the popularity of this interface correlates with the popularity of HDTV and other HD devices). But, there is so much more to it. From a historical perspective, HDMI is somewhat of an evolution of DVI (Digital Visual Interface), which is a digital video connection that is used in the PC world. One of the main drawbacks of this interface is that it requires a separate audio cable. HDMI fixed that, it is an all in one solution – Video, Audio, High Definition, 3-D, Ethernet and then some. Sounds great, right ?

Well, there are a few things to consider and decisions that consumers need to make when considering the purchase of one of these cables. Like most standards, HDMI is constantly improving. It started with V1.0 and it is now at V1.4 (I won’t get into the details of what is included in each version for this posting – let me know if you would like a specific posting on that). But, naturally, as I stated above, the functionality and features improve with each new version. Here in lies the issue – not all HDMI cables are functionally equal. This stems from the fact that the standard does not require manufacturers to implement all the functions in any specific version. But, the problem goes beyond functionality when you consider non-genuine parts that does not meet official HDMI manufacturing standards. It has been found that a large majority of the HDMI cables on the market are not compliant – they do not meet the HDMI compliance test. This could be due to the fact that these “illegal” manufactures use poor components and manual processes (like soldering) to make these cables. Consequently, the consumer must be mindful of these facts when they are trying to make a buying decision.

Hopefully, I was able to answer your question of “What is a HDMI Cable ?” For the next blog entry I will speak to what a buyer needs to consider when buying  HDMI cables and where to buy them.