HDMI in Home Technology

HDMI is not the only cabling option there is.  There are many.

HDMI is on the tip of most audio/video installers tongues, because it is relatively new, being introduced to the AV industry in 2002. 

The editors at CEPro magazine have done a wonderful job of offering some more information on what has ended up being a changing and in turn, frustrating technological development.

The following is a direct quote from their recent White Paper:

Q. There seem to be so many choices in the market for HDMI cables.

How do I know which cable is right for my application?

A. There are five types of HDMI cables available in the market today. Prior to the HDMI Specification Version 1.4, there were two cable types: Standard (category 1) and High Speed (category 2). Today, the HDMI cable types include:

HDMI Standard Cable: Video resolutions up to 1080i at 60 frames per second (fps) are supported.

HDMI Standard Cable with Ethernet: Resolutions up to 1080i/60 as above plus the optional HDMI Ethernet Channel feature are supported.

HDMI High Speed Cable: 2D video resolutions up to 1080p/60 with 16 bit color, as well as all HDMI 1.4a 3DTV and 4KTV formats are supported.

HDMI High Speed Cable with Ethernet: This cable supports the same feature set as HDMI high speed cables, plus the optional HDMI Ethernet Channel.

HDMI Standard Automotive Cable: This cable and the Type E connector support the enhanced environmental requirements of the HDMI Automotive Connection System.

Q. What is an HDMI Adapter?

A. Technically there is no such thing in HDMI terminology as an “HDMI adapter.” However, the flexibility of the HDMI Specification allows for manufacturers to build products that can transport HDMI over a different medium. These products are categorized as either converter cables (if they have an HDMI plug on both ends) or an HDMI repeater (if they have receptacles on both ends). There are different performance requirements in terms of signal drive depending on which configuration is used; the repeater is tested as a source or sink on each respective end, and as a result can work in combination with regular wire HDMI cables to provide signals over a long distance. Converter cables are primarily tested for their ability to pass signals when connected directly to sources and sinks, and are not specified to work with additional wire cable lengths connected serially.

Q. What types of HDMI adapters are available?

A. There are a number of options available. Technologies include copper wire alternatives (including CAT 5/5e/6), optical cables, and even wireless solutions. Each solution has advantages and drawbacks in terms of range, stability, ease of installation, power requirements, etc. Cat 5/6 cable-based adapters (also known as baluns) are typically used for longer in-wall runs where traditional HDMI cables will not work; products in this category are marketed to work to 150 feet and more. Optical cables have the potential of running even longer distances.

Wireless-based HDMI adapters are a possible option when cables cannot be run in an install. Wireless products are offered from a number of companies and use a few different radio technologies, each of which has distinct applications.

Q. What does HDMI technology have to do with 3DTV?

A. 3DTV has been around for many years; it is a clever way to get your eyes to believe they are looking at 3D content on a 2D screen by giving each eye a slightly different perceived-depth view of a video image. Broadcast- and disc-based content sources encode each eye’s information separately, while 3DTVs display the separate eye information (typically using glasses) as the content author intended to generate the 3D effect. The HDMI Specification has defined a number of formats that allow 3D content to be transmitted in an interoperable, predictable way so that all HDMI 3D-compliant devices from any manufacturer can share this information and create the desired effect for the viewer.


Q. Do I need special HDMI cables to support 3DTV?

A. There are five mandatory HDMI 3D transmission formats; HDMIenabled

source devices must support at least one, while display devices must support all five. Each of these formats is specified to be compatible with HDMI High Speed or HDMI High Speed with Ethernet Cables. Today’s HDMI 3D-compliant video sources, including Blu-ray Disc players and 3D broadcast set-top boxes, will work with an HDMI 3D-compliant display when connected by a compliant cable of either type.

Q. What is the maximum length for an HDMI cable? Will longer cables degrade signals?

A. The HDMI Specification does not dictate cable lengths; rather, mechanical and electrical requirements are specified to ensure compliance with the Specification. Compliant cables have passed the testing requirements of the Compliance Test Specification, will have the cable type tagged or printed

along the sheath, and will show the corresponding HDMI cable name label on the product packaging. In practice, passive wire/cables typically are good up to around 10 meters, and active cables up to about 30 meters.

Q. Cable prices vary widely. Is a $100 HDMI cable better than a $30 HDMI cable?

A. HDMI Licensing, LLC does not mandate pricing or establish MSRPs; each manufacturer or reseller is free to set the price for their cable. Suppliers may provide extended warranty or enhanced cosmetics for their increased price. To prevent problems in the field, beware of using counterfeit products that do not have proper HDMI labeling and logos. If the price sounds too good to be true, it may not be a certified cable.

Q. I see cables in packages touting them as “hyper speed,” “3D-ready” and “advanced.” Is there really a difference?

A. Cable makers and resellers try various methods to differentiate their products. If a cable is compliant for one of the five types (standard, standard with Ethernet, high speed, high speed with Ethernet, standard automotive), it will work in the intended application.”

Taken from the CEPro Advantage Series, June 2011.