HDMI Cable Differences in Quality

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HDMI cables send information instead of an analog signal.
HDMI cables send information instead of an analog signal.

HDMI cables have become the new standard for home HDTV viewing. The new digital format, however, has brought a layer of confusion about the quality differences between cables. In general, there is no quality difference between two HDMI cables. Because the HD signal is sent as an information signal (instead of an analog signal), the image will appear on your TV exactly as it was sent from the video device. If you are running into issues, this may be due to other factors, rather than the cable quality.

  1. Standard vs High-Speed Cables

    • Recently, HDMI cables have started to be rated as either "standard" or "high-speed." A standard cable is capable of transmitting up to 2.25 Gbps, which is equal to 720p/1080i resolution. A high-speed cable is capable of transmitting up to 10.2 Gbps, which is equal to full 1080p resolution. When setting up your entertainment system, purchase the cable that best fits your TV.

    Deep Color

    • The most recent version of HDMI, which is HDMI 1.3, introduced "Deep Color." Deep Color is capable of 10-bit, 12-bit and 16-bit color information transfer instead of the 8-bit color information of HDMI 1.2. As of 2011, not many cameras actually use Deep Color, so this feature is currently underutilized. Check to see if your camera supports Deep Color to purchase the appropriate cable.

    Bit Stream Audio

    • Another feature of HDMI 1.3 is the ability to transmit audio in bit stream format. This removes the decoding requirement of the receiving device, since bit stream audio is compressed losslessly. If your receiving device has an on-board bit stream decoder, then this feature will not be used. If it does not, you will need an HDMI 1.3 cable.

    HDCP

    • HDMI has a behavioral feature called HDCP, which stands for "high-definition content protection." This is the copyright protection component of HDMI. As an HDMI cable connects two devices, it continually verifies that each device is authorized. Unfortunately, these verifications don't always go well, and there's no way to check if one device will be compatible with another. If your image is static or switching on and off, you may have a HDCP issue and need to change one of the devices.

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