HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) cables are used for connecting high-end television and audio components. To get the true benefit of the improvements in video products over the last few years, it is important to use high quality connectors between your devices that are optimized for the signal transfer.
Advantages over DVI
One of the principal advantages of HDMI over earlier digital cables like digital Video interface (DVI) is that it adds audio on one cable. It also has greater bandwidth capacity than DVI, which allows for less compression and more quality. The connector jack's plug is smaller, and it also has a copy-protection system built in, should it be needed. HDMI is backwards compatible with DVI, so you can have a DVI device connect to an HDMI device. You'll have to add audio cables though.
Other cables include coaxial, which is an analog signal; analog audio, also known as RCA, is better than coaxial but not as good as any digital cable. Digital optical cables are good for avoiding interference. Composite video is inferior to S-video, but neither S-video nor composite are as good as any digital connection.
Good Alternatives to HDMI
In addition to DVI, RGB---the type of cable your run between a computer and a monitor---is a good choice if you have it on your TV and want to connect a PC. IEEE-1394, also called Firewire, is also a good HDMI alternative, but many TVs don't have it.
The Consumer Electronics Association's website has a connections guide (see References).
Types of HDMI Cable
HDMI cable is rated for in-wall use and for non in-wall use. Cables usually are 4 feet long and upward, and price is determined by length. There is inconclusive evidence that the more expensive the cable, the better it is. Many people argue that you can buy the cheapest cable and that buying a more expensive HDMI cable will not provide increased performance. Monster Cable makes HDMI cables in various lengths.
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