Technology came with many changes, including the development of many industries, such as the media and entertainment industry.
They had to develop and upgrade their radio shows, TV, film productions, video games, and print to meet the rising demand.
With these demands, cable companies had to go back to the drawing board and develop ways to improve the quality of their audio-visual equipment, including launching and upgrading HDMI cables.
What is an HDMI Cable?
An HDMI cable or High-Definition Multimedia interface is a standard interface that connects or transmits digital audio and video from one source to another.
The HDMI cables improve connectivity. They allow more data to pass through, coping and meeting the high demands to support small connectors and embedded audio.
You can connect a TV cable box to a projector, gaming PC, or TV and send almost all audio and video signals.
Where are HDMI Connections applicable?
As mentioned, you can use HDMI cables to connect gaming devices from the source device to a particular monitor. You can use these cables on various electric devices, such as:
- Game consoles
- Home theater systems
- Laptops and PCs
- Satellite DVRs and boxes
- Media streamer
- Ultra HD Blu-ray players and DVDs
- Desktop monitors, TVs, and video projectors
HDMI Cable Types
Different desktops and TVs use other HDMI cables for video games and audio. Here are the common types of HDMI cables you should know about:
Standard HDMI Cables
Standard HDMI cables are more basic and are primarily used for typical consumer applications. They transmit High Definition resolution (HD Resolution) ranging from 720p to 1080i.
Standard HDMI cables have a bandwidth capacity goes up to 5Gbps and are more recommendable on Blu-ray players, DVD players, screen projectors, and satellite TV, with a refresh rate of 30Hz.
Unfortunately, you can’t use it on your 4k TV because they don’t transmit 3840*2160 (4k) resolution.
Standard HDMI with Ethernet
These HDMI cables are not that different from standard HDMI cables. They have equal performance and functionality.
The difference between the two is that standard HDMI cables with ethernet have an Ethernet channel. To function, both the devices connected must have a dedicated data channel.
Like the standard cables, they’re only supported by a few products, like a home theater system and a Blu-ray player, with Ethernet compatibility.
Standard automotive HDMI cable
It performs the same functions as the standard HDMI cable. However, it’s designed to suit in-vehicle HD systems, meaning you can connect devices, such as in-car DVD players, to in-car video displays.
The cables are designed to withstand vibrations, effectively transmit signals (weak or strong), and any interference from car wiring and other systems.
High-speed HDMI cables
A high-speed HDMI cable transmits 1080p and 4k resolution at 30Hz. It supports deep color tech, 3D, and 4K compatible devices.
Its maximum bandwidth transfer speed is 10Gbps and is highly optimized to support HDMI versions 1.3 to 1.4a.
High-speed automotive HDMI cables
High-speed automotive cables perform the same functions as high-speed cables, but they are customized for vehicular use. It’s also optimized to perform under extreme temperatures and vibrations.
High-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet
It also supports 1080i and 4k resolution with the capability of backing sophisticated display engineering, like 3D and Deep Color.
Like the standard HDMI with Ethernet, it also has a dedicated HDMI channel, making it an excellent option for systems with Ethernet streaming channels.
Premium high-speed HDMI cables
Premium high-speed cables are the best choice for transferring Ultra HD/ 4k resolution videos at 60Hx with expanded color space (4:4:4 chroma sampling and BT: 2020) and High Dynamic Range (HDR).
The maximum bandwidth of a premium high-speed HDMI cable is 18Gbps, best suited for HDMI 2.0 a and b. Premium high-speed HDMI cable is the best choice for ultra HD Blu-ray devices.
Ultra high-speed HDMI cable
The ultra high-speed HDMI cable combines all the proficiency of the other wires for functionality.
Ultra high-speed HDMI cable is optimized to support 8k video resolution with HDR and bandwidth of 48Gbps.
The best part about it is that it’s not vulnerable to electromagnetic interference and is well-suited for HDMI 2.1 cable.
HDMI Port and Connector Types
You’ll find the HDMI connector at the back of your TV, laptop, or PC, designed so that the HDMI cable fits one way around.
Cable companies haven’t altered the HDMI since their manufacture, ensuring it’s backward compatible and allowing for its maintenance.
There are many types of HDMI connectors types. However, most HDMI cables, or the vast majority, fall under Type A, Type C, and Type D connectors.
Other than Type B, the rest of the connectors have 19 pins, designed to keep them constant throughout all connector types.
Here are the different types of HDMI connectors:
- Type A connector (Standard HDMI):It's he most commonly used HDMI connector familiar to audio-visual (AV) users. You’ll find a standard HDMI in many electronic devices, including satellite boxes, recorders, TVs, DVD players, and gaming consoles.
The Type A connector is more robust and the suitable cable connector to use when there's enough space.
It has 19 pins and a bandwidth of enough to support 4k, High-definition television (HDTV), Standard-definition television (SDTV), Ultra-high-definition (UHD), and Enhanced-definition television (EDTV.
It's also compatible with a single-link Digital Visual Interface (DVI-D).
The outside dimensions of the Type A male connector or plug is 13.9mm * 4.45mm, and the inside dimensions of the female receptacles are 14mm * 4.55mm.
- Type B connector (Dual-Link): The dual-link HDMI connector was customized to support high-resolution devices. However, most consumers don't use it in their mainstream products because it has a lower speed than a single-link HDMI connector due to the introduction of HDMI 1.3.
It has a dimension of 21.2mm * 4.45mm, with 29 pins and 6 differential pairs, compared to the others, which have 19 pins and 3 differential pairs.
- Type C connector (Mini HDMI): Like Type A HDMI connectors, Mini HDMIs use a 19-pin configuration to transmit data. It was introduced in HDMI 1.3 and is used by the vast majority to transfer data.
Type C connectors are sleeker than the standard and dual-link HDMIs, measuring 10.42mm * 2.42mm.
The size of the Type C connector makes it more compatible with portable devices, such as laptops, tablets, and Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras.
However, it’s still as effective and retains the functions of standard HDMI connectors regardless of size.
- Type D connector (Micro HDMI): Micro HDMI connector is the same size as a Type-B micro USB.
Micro HDMI is a version 1.4 HDMI designed to support AV in portable devices, with dimensions of 64mm*2.8mm and a 19-pin configuration.
- Type E connector (Automotive): The Type E HDMI connector was specially customized for use in the automotive environment.
Like type D, it’s an HDMI version 1.4 connector. It has a relay connector for linking consumer AV equipment. Moreso, it’s designed to withstand high stress, vibration, and extreme temperatures in the automotive environment.
Note that an HDMI port is either an output or an input. It’s an output when it sends from the source device to a different device. It’s an input device if it receives the signal.
An excellent example of an HDMI output device is the Blu-ray player. A PC monitor is the perfect example of an HDMI input.
You may have seen a gold-plated HDMI cable that got you thinking if it’s better than the regular HDMI cables.
Well, these cables are known to be better because gold is a better conductor, and they have gold-plated connectors that plug into the source device and monitors. They’re also said to have a low latency needed for gaming.
However, the claims remain unproven because they use copper wire like the regular HDMIs in their internal wiring. The copper wire in the gold-plated cables transmits data at the same speed as the traditional HDMI cables.
Features of HDMI Cables
Different HDMIs have different features and specifics that enable them to transmit data from a source device to the receiver without glitches and signal loss.
Here are the main feature of many HDMI cables on the market today:
- Display Data Channel (DDC): It'sIt's an HDMI interface that supports a collection of protocols required for digital communications.
It allows for information (Extended Display Information Data, EDID) to pass through from the source device to inquire about the AV formats to use. Also, it allows you to adjust the screen brightness and contrast to your preference.
- Consumer Electronic Control (CEC):It'sIt's the feature that allows you to connect up to 15 devices on a single remote controller. Your device may support CEC, but you must turn it on first.
- Chroma subsampling: The form of video compression that adjusts the color data in a video without altering the quality of the video is chroma subsampling. It minimizes the transferable data by allowing adjacent pixels to share color data.
Chroma subsampling exists in 3 numerals to represent the pixels with information available in every row, in the top and bottom rows.
- Transition-Minimized Differential Sampling (TMDS): Transferring digital data from one device to another may encounter challenges, such as signal loss, especially when it's a long-distance data transfer.
TMDS encodes the signal, protecting it against interference as you transmit it from the source device to the receiver.
- Deep color and color spaces: Deep color or color depth represents the bits used to display a single pixel color while determining gradation and shading.
On the other hand, a color space uses different colors (YCbCr and RGB) you can present as an image to get the preferred gamut (colors available) and color depth.
- Display Stream Compression (DSC): It'sIt's a lossless compression method to get high resolution at better refresh rates. It was introduced in HDMI 2.1 to help compress signals for Ultra-high definition videos to avoid signal loss and interference.
- HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC): HDMI Ethernet Channel came with the introduction of HDMI 1.4b. It provides for connecting devices with Ethernet channels without using Ethernet HDMI cables.
- High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP):It's stored in the EDID of different devices to allow them to verify credentials and create a shared data key for decoding and encoding the transmitted data.
Active or Passive 4k and 8k HDMI Cables?
Besides deciding the type and HDMI cable version you want, you must determine if you wish to use active or passive cables.
Most traditional HDMI cables are passive; however, they're reversible and lack active signal boosting, meaning they're subject to signal loss from time to time during transmission.
Active HDMI cables, on the other hand, have good source and output ends that allow data transmission with no signal loss or degradation.
While passive HDMI cables are shorter, active HDMI cables are longer. Passive HDMI 2.1 cables can only stretch to 10ft before they encounter interference. In comparison, active HDMI cables can go up to 75ft without interference, making them the best option when transmitting data over long distances. However, they are less affordable than passive HDMI cables.
HDMI Cable Versions for 4K and 8k
Since the development of HDMI in 2002, many versions have been launched to keep up with the advancement and changes in AV compatibility.
The first version to launch was HDMI version 1, followed by HDMI version 2, which had proved its effectiveness throughout the years.
HDMI version 1
As mentioned, HDMI version 1 was first launched in the year 2002. However, it was updated and revised serval times over the years to improve the efficiency and speed of the HDMI cables.
Here are the updates of HDMI version 1:
- HDMI 1.0: This was the first HDMI cable version 1 of the HDMI standard. It was designed with an audio and video interface to transmit audio and video via a single cable up to 4.95Gbps.
It provides a maximum of 8 channels of digital audio with 1080p at 60fps. It also provides for playbacks of Blu-ray audio and videos.
- HDMI 1.1: HDMI 1.1 was launched in 2004. It provides higher-quality DVD players by enhancing DVD audio.
- HDMI 1.2/1.2a:HDMI 1.2 was launched in 2005. These versions added the CEC and DSD features, allowing it to transmit SACD content to multiple devices.
They supported YCbCr color space and low-voltage source devices, leading to the standard connector's introduction.
- HDMI 1.3/1.3a: These versions, released in 2006, came with an increased bandwidth of 10.2Gbs, meaning they had a higher speed than the previous versions.
It also improved the color depth to 10-bit, 12-bit, or 16-bit for each available channel, with a color space support of xvYCC.
It uses the mini connector to connect to portable source devices like camcorders.
- HDMI 1.4/1.4a/1.4b: Version 1.4 was released in 2009, 1.4a in 2010, and version 1.4b in 2011. Their main focus was to enhance the 3D technology, including the 3D broadcasting format.
They incorporated additional features like HEC to provide for an Ethernet connection and higher definition formats that led to the introduction of 4k * 2k resolution.
HDMI1.4b was the last HDMI version updated by the HDMI Licensing Administrator before handing over to the HDMI Forum.
HDMI version 2
HDMI version 2 was the first project the HDMI Forum handled. A significant change was seen in this transformation, although it only has 3 upgrades. They include the following:
- HDMI 2.0/ 2.0a/2.0b: HDMI 2.0, also known as HDMI UHD, was launched in 2013. The bandwidth was increased to 18Gbs to allow 4k resolutions at 60Hz.
It increased the number of audio channels to 32 at a sampling rate of 1532kHz, allowing dual media streams by multiple users on the same device.
Version 2.0a, released in 2015, only had a minor upgrade that enabled it to provide support for HDR video.
HDMI 2.01b was launched in 2015 with added HDR support and extended static metadata.
- HDMI 2.1: It'sIt's the latest upgrade version launched in 2017. It has added capabilities to support a constant refresh rate and high resolution of 10k at 120 Hz, with a bandwidth of 48Gbs.
It has additional eARC, Dynamic HD, and DSC features for chroma sampling and video formats.
Variations Between 4k and 8k HDMI cable
It’s pretty challenging to tell 4k and 8K HDMI cables by looking at them. However, you can differentiate them by the pixels available in each and the speed provided by each cable.
8k cables have higher speed because of their higher bandwidth of 48Gps, unlike the 4k, which has a bandwidth of 18.2Gps.
They also use more data than 4k for their frame rate and resolution.
Another significant difference is that 8k is an HDMI 2.1 version while 4k is an HDMI 2.0: 8k HDMI 2.1 transmits data at 60 frames per second (fps) and 4k content at 120fps, while 4k HDMI2.0 can only transmit 4k data at 60fps.
You can use 8k resolution on a 4k TV and get twice the frames you get when using a 4k cable. Therefore, 8k is the right cable to use for all HDMI 2.1 setups.
Why Choose 8k HDMI 2.1 over 4k HDMI 2.0?
While 4k HDMI 2.0 is a good choice for your AV equipment, 8k HDMI 2.1 has more benefits. It surpasses some inefficiencies you may experience when using 4k cable, meaning lag-free gaming, real-time gameplay, and low latency.
Here are other features that make it a better choice than HDMI 2.0:
- High Dynamic Range (Dynamic HDR):HDMI 2.1 uses dynamic HDR to provide better visuals in contrast, brightness, colors, and details.
It allows enhanced flow between frames, improving each structure by making automatic modifications.
HDMI 2.1 indeed ensures content is displayed at its best for better color gamuts, details, brightness, contrast, and depth.
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): 8k HDMI 2.1 delivers detailed and fluid gameplay for games hoping to reduce time lag, frame tearing, and shutter, using a variable refresh rate of up to 130 Hz.
VRR speeds things up by changing the refresh rate to suit your requirements, making it the best cable for multiplayer competition.
- Enhanced Audio-Return Channel (eARC):eARC is an improvement of the Audio Return Channel (ARC).
HDMI 2.1’s Enhanced Audio Return Channel allows for superior audio performance, supporting about 100 channels and providing a direct link to an eARC/ARC audio system.
The best part about it is that it supports complete multi-channel, such as Dolby Atmos, Digital Theatre Sound (DTS:X), Sonos Beam, and Dolby TrueHD, which were previously unsupported by ARC.
Fiber Optic HDMI Cables for 4k and 8k
The worldwide use of high-resolution displays in audio-vision transmission has led to rising demands for higher bandwidth to meet the transmission demands, which is more than that offered by traditional copper HDMI cables.
The inability to meet these demands has led to the introduction of fiber optic HDMI cables. They transmit 4k and 8k resolutions by converting the electronic signal into a laser-like high-speed signal from a source device through the fiber optic strands and converting them back into electronic signal when at the input end for display.
In as much as fiber optic cables help relieve the challenges of long-distance transmission, they may still encounter signal loss or may be incapable of producing high-quality videos.
Therefore, when using a fiber optic HDMI cable, ensure they function accordingly by:
- Verifying compatibility challenges with traditional HDMI cables
- Ensuring adequate power supply
- Using the correct connection with the adapter
- Providing the right direction of end connections
Today, HDMI cables provide many options for transmitting high-quality videos and audio between several entertainment and communication devices. However, it would help to understand different types and versions of HDMI cables and why some are better than others.