As of January 1st, 2010, HDMI.org is changing the HDMI Cable rules once again, adding more complexity for you, the consumer. Are you ready for these new HDMI Cable changes? You've invested hours of research to finally select the HDTV set of your dreams, only to discover that even more time is required to choose the right HDMI Cable. Since its introduction, the HDMI interface has confused millions with its endless array of acronyms, version numbers, data rates, wire sizes, and configurations. If you're confused about HDMI cable technology, don't feel bad! Our exclusive Guide to HDMI Cables (HDMI Cable FAQ) will answer your questions. Scroll down to the bottom of this FAQ to learn more about current discounts.
HDMI Topics:   HDMI Definition - HDMI Equipment - HDMI Features - HDMI Cable Wire AWG - HDMI Connectors - HDMI Cable Certification - HDMI 1.3 vs. HDMI 1.4 - HDMI Jacket Types - Monster HDMI Cables - DisplayPort vs. HDMI - Amphenol Brand HDMI Advantages - HDMI Cable Discounts - New 2010 HDMI Rules - High Speed HDMI Cables - MHz vs. Gbps - HDMI & TOSLINK Cable Contest
- Question 1: What is HDMI?
The HDMI or High Definition Multimedia Interface is an all-digital Audio/Video connection type designed to carry both high definition audio and high definition video over a single convenient cable. Prior to HDMI, a typical HDTV would require as many as five separate cable connections to duplicate the capability of just one HDMI cable. HDMI should be the preferred connection of choice whenever possible. Since HDMI is a digital technology, prior problems with video ghosting, interference, and signal fade are entirely eliminated.
- Question 2: What Equipment is Needed to use HDMI?
To take advantage of HDMI, three core components are required. You will need an HDTV or projector equipped with one or more HDMI ports. You will also need an HDMI equipped source device such as a Sony PS3, HD set-top-box, or Blu-Ray Disc Player. Finally, you will need an HDMI Cable to connect between the source device and your HDTV. Your choice of HDMI cable is paramount to ensuring proper operation.
- Question 3: What are the Most Important Features of an HDMI Cable?
When searching for an HDMI Cable, several features are essential to guarantee prime performance. These essential features include the wire gauge (AWG) used in the cable design, the type of HDMI connectors installed on the cable, the HDMI version certification (i.e. HDMI 1.3 or HDMI 1.4), and the type of cable jacket used. As of January 1st, 2010, the HDMI Cooperative is focusing more on HDMI cable speed ratings (i.e. High-Speed HDMI Cable) rather than version numbers to reduce consumer confusion.
- Question 4: Why does Wire Gauge (AWG) Matter with HDMI Cables?
Wire gauge (AWG) is absolutely critical when selecting an HDMI Cable. You should always be suspicious of vendors that do not specify what wire gauge is used in their HDMI cable designs. The first place that cable manufacturers look to for cost-cutting is the wire AWG. Cheap HDMI cables tend to use 30 or even 32 AWG wire. Thin gauge HDMI cables not only struggle to accurately transfer demanding HD content like 3D or 1080p video, but they are especially vulnerable to interference from adjacent electronics, power lines, and small appliances. Larger wire sizes present their own problems with design tolerances and a general lack of flexibility. Amphenol HDMI cables up to 16ft in length utilize only 26 or 28 AWG wire - the perfect balance.
Question 5: What do I Need to Know About HDMI Connectors?
You may be surprised to learn that up to half of the HDMI signal strength can be lost due to improperly designed or installed connectors. As an innovator of connector technology since 1938, Amphenol uses only the best HDMI connectors and installation methods available on the market. We tend to shy away from the cheap molded plastic HDMI connectors used by other vendors. Our HDMI connectors are properly shielded and either re-enforced in a Metal Cage or made entirely of Gold-plated Die-Cast Metal alloy. Amphenol has received praise from the professional A/V installer community for its use of quality HDMI connectors. Several installers have had to deal with costly repairs associated with using cheap HDMI cables whose connectors snap off and get stuck in the HDMI port!
Question 6: What is the Deal with Certified HDMI Cables?
Much confusion exists surrounding HDMI cable certification and HDMI spec versions. The most recent HDMI specification is HDMI v1.4. All Amphenol HDMI Cables are High Speed Certified per HDMI 1.4 specifications and are therefore backwards compatible with all prior HDMI standards like HDMI 1.3a/1.3b Category 2. "Certified" means that an independent HDMI Authorized Testing Center (ATC) performed a series of lab tests on our cables to ensure compliance with the latest HDMI 1.4 spec. Only "High-Speed" certified HDMI Cables support 340 MHz (10.2 Gbps) bandwidth; essential for running demanding HD platforms such as the Sony PS3 and BluRay platforms. If you have any desire to utilize features like 3D HD Video, high refresh rates @ 120 Hz and above, or extended 48-bit deep color gamuts, a High-Speed Certified HDMI Cable is a necessity.
- Question 7: What Features are Supported by Amphenol High-Speed HDMI Cables?
Amphenol brand High-Speed Certified HDMI Cables are guaranteed to support all High-Speed HDMI Cable features found in the HDMI version 1.3 Category-2 and HDMI 1.4 specifications including 10.2 Gbit/s Bandwidth, 4K Cinema Resolution (1080p X 4), Full 1080p 3D Video, Audio Return Channel, xvYCC Deep Color, Dolby TruHD, DTS-HD, Auto Lip-Sync, Automatic Content Matching, and a wide range of refresh rates such as 24Hz from 1080p BluRay/PS3 players as well as advanced 120Hz-480Hz LCD systems.
- Question 8: Why do HDMI Cables Have Different Jacket Types, i.e. CL2?
Most HDMI Cables utilize a standard PVC based cable jacket designed to work within most home or office environments. Sometimes, environmental circumstances dictate a more heavy duty cable jacket. The first step up in HDMI cable jackets is the Woven Nylon Mesh Jacket. This is a protective nylon net that protects the PVC cable jacket from accidental damage or abuse. Other installation scenarios may demand that the HDMI cable be snaked through a wall. In order to meet proper safety codes for flame exposure in home or commercial buildings, a CL2 (UL Class 2) In-Wall Rated HDMI Cable is required. Using a non-CL2 rated HDMI cable inside a wall is extremely risky.
Question 9: Why do Retail HDMI Cables like Monster Cost So Much?
Most national retail chains make extraordinarily small profit margins on consumer electronics such as LCD or Plasma HDTV's, home theater receivers, and video game consoles. Many times, these stores have to sell their home theater products at a loss simply to remain competitive. This leaves the retailer with only one option to make up for these losses: ripping off you, the consumer, by charging a 500% mark-up on lucrative electronics accessories like HDMI Cables. Does that mean a retailer's over-priced cable is 500% better than what's available online? Absolutely not. In fact, a typical Monster cable must undergo the exact same HDMI compliance testing as our cables. We guarantee our HDMI cables will produce 100% identical picture and sound quality when compared to the far more expensive Monster series HDMI cables:
Question 10: What's the Difference Between Premium and Ultra Series Cables?
Amphenol manufactures two distinct grades of HDMI Cables. Our core HDMI cable offering, the Premium Series, offers all of the primary features deemed critical in HDMI cable design including 28 AWG wire, shielded metal hood connectors, and HDMI v1.4 High-Speed Certification (340MHz / 10.2 Gbps). The Premium Series offers superb performance @ 1080p at a competitive price (from $22.80). Our Ultra Series Reference-Grade HDMI cable takes the proven technology of the Premium Series and upgrades it with features professional installers want most: pure copper 26 AWG wire conductors for enhanced signal transfer, Gold-plated die-cast metal HDMI connectors, a black nylon mesh cable jacket, and a lifetime warranty. By using the best metal HDMI connectors on the market and a heavier duty wire configuration, our Ultra Series HDMI Cables boast the headroom required for the demanding technology of today AND tomorrow.
Question 11: What is DisplayPort? Will it Replace HDMI?
DisplayPort is the latest all-digital audio/video interface to hit the market with features that are very similar to HDMI. Does that mean DisplayPort is poised to replace HDMI on HDTV's? Not quite. DisplayPort was really designed for use with personal computers and computer monitors. It is, in essence, a total replacement for the old analog 15-pin d-sub (HD15) VGA connection found on nearly every PC. It also replaces the bulky and confusing DVI interface. HDTV's will likely not feature DisplayPort connections in the future, because it costs far more than HDMI and is simply redundant. If you have a new DisplayPort equipped PC or monitor and can't connect it to your existing HDMI or DVI gear, our DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter Cable or DisplayPort to DVI Adapter Cable may solve your connection problems.
Question 12: Why Choose Amphenol Brand HDMI Cables?
We understand you have a great deal of choices when it comes to HDMI Cables; in fact, consumers have too many HDMI Cable choices, making cable selection all the more confusing. When you buy an HDMI cable from Amphenol, you are guaranteed the highest degree of workmanship, material quality, and professional experience. Amphenol, founded in 1934, was the largest connector-maker during World War 2, and has grown into the world's 2nd largest manufacturer of interconnects behind only Tyco. Amphenol products are used in some of the world's harshest environments, including satellites, jet aircraft, particle physics labs and more. Our HDMI cables are built with the same design methodology in-mind. Amphenol's commitment to quality has lead to contracts with Echostar (Dish Network), Microsoft (XBox-360) and TiVo as their designated in-the-box HDMI cable supplier; with well over one-million HDMI cables produced every month.
- Question 13: What Promotions are Currently Available for Amphenol HDMI?
We're convinced you're going to love the quality and price of our HDMI Cables, but we understand economic conditions are difficult for many, especially when it comes to consumer electronics purchases. We're pleased to offer an exclusive 20% Discount off of any of our HDMI Cables for a limited time at checkout. Simply enter Coupon Code "HDMISALE" at checkout to redeem your discount today.
- Question 14: What are the New Rules Regarding HDMI Cable Types Starting in 2010?
According to the new HDMI 1.4 licensing standards in effect as of January 1st, 2010, manufacturers will no longer be allowed to use HDMI version numbers on any HDMI Cable packaging, labeling, or promotional materials. This is to reduce confusion for both business and residential customers alike due to deceptive marketing practices. However, the new HDMI 1.4 standard designate 5 different types of HDMI Cables in the process, potentially adding 5 new layers of confusion. The new HDMI types include: Standard HDMI Cable, Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet, Standard Automotive HDMI Cable, High-Speed HDMI Cable and High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet. Automotive HDMI Cables are barely off the drawing board, but they will feature increased vibration and temperature handling via a new HDMI connector and jacket suitable for the harsh vehicle environment. The industry support for HDMI Cables with Ethernet has been poor, without a single viable product on the market today that actually uses it. The real-life applications are questionable at best, as most HDTV's don't have networking ports installed (see sample image below). The most important HDMI cable types are the Standard and High-Speed variants. Because of these factors, all Amphenol HDMI Cables are certified to the HDMI 1.4 "High Speed" standard, ensuring trouble-free operation for years to come.
Question 15: Why are HDMI Cable Speeds Listed Differently in MHz or Gbps Terms?
This is confusing to both consumers and experts alike. In the old analog world, bandwidth was expressed in terms of MHz exclusively. A typical TV channel needed 5 MHz of bandwidth, or space, to fit the black/white, color, and sound information onto one channel. HDMI, a digital system, is a completely different animal. HDMI data transmits over 3 channels (one for each main color), and uses 10-bit encoding (8-bits for picture data / 2-bits for signal data). So to convert the HDMI signal bandwith in MHz to bandwidth in terms of speed or data rate, you have to do a little math. A High-Speed rated HDMI cable is spec'd at 340MHz. To convert, multiply: 340 (MHz) X 3 (Channels) X 10 (Bits). This gives us 10,200 Megabits per second (Mbps). 1,000 Mbps is generally listed as 1 Gigabit per second (1-Gbps). Thus, 10,200Mbps is idenical to 10.2Gbps. 10.2Gbps is the magic number you often see listed as the bandwidth of a "High-Speed" HDMI cable.