Choosing an HDMI cable can be a complex task. There are several factors that must be considered in order to select the best HDMI cable to meet the user’s requirements:
- HDMI standards compliance
- HDMI Cable Categories
- Cable length
- Cable quality
- Active cables
- HDMI devices
HDMI Standards Compliance
Each HDMI cable is rated to comply with a specific revision of the HDMI standards. A cable rated for HDMI 1.2a should meet the requirements of HDMI 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2, but is not guaranteed to meet the standards for HDMI 1.3.
HDMI Cable Categories
The HDMI standards define two cable categories. Category 1 HDMI cables support HDTV resolutions and frame rates. Category 2 cables are required for higher resolutions or higher frame rates.
The HDMI specification does not define a maximum cable length. HDMI cables are commonly available in 3′ to 50′ lengths.
Purchasing a cable longer than necessary will cost more money, but it will also increase signal loss due to attenuation.
All other factors being equal, a cable that is built to higher tolerances using better materials will outperform a cable that is built merely to meet a standards specification. In addition, these premium cables will often provide longer service lives.
An HDMI cable can be made using 28 AWG wire, but a 24 AWG wire will create a sturdier cable that is more resistant to attenuation.
As with traditional analog stereo cables, premium HDMI cables are often furnished with gold plated connectors to ensure the best possible signal quality.
For specialized high end applications, some manufacturers are selling active HDMI cables. These cables use a variety of technologies that involve boosting the transmission distance or quality through the addition of electrical power to the cable connection.
Some of these active cables run over fiber optics or Cat-5 cable.
Another approach to supporting extremely long cable runs is to chain multiple HDMI cables together with amplifiers, repeaters, or equalizers.
An HDMI cable only has to be good enough to support the equipment that it connects. It is useless to pay for a premium gold plated HDMI cable for a low end television set.