‘What is an HDMI cable’ might at first glance seem like an overly simplistic question but if you do a little research, it soon becomes obvious that that the innocuous HDMI cable has a lot of complex technology behind it. At its most basic, an HDMI cable is the cable that is used to connect a high definition video output such as a DVR to a high definition input device such as a television. The reason one would want to do this is to obtain the best possible picture and sound. A traditional coaxial cable will do the job of course but using an HDMI cable is much better.
High Definition Multimedia Interface describes it exactly. It is an interface between a digital display device (TV, computer monitor, projector) and audio/video devices such as cable and satellite set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, audio video receivers and DVD players. HDMI will support a variety of video standards including standard, enhanced and high definition as well as digital audio (multi-channel). This means it will transmit and support ATSC HDTV standards as well as 192kHz, 8-channel and Dolby Digital and DTS. HDMI 1.3 cables also support Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio while allowing room for future developments.
HDMI technology was first available in late 2002 by way of HDMI version 1. Since then, several upgraded specifications have been released, being HDMI 1.1, 1.2, 1.2a, 1.3, 1.3a, 1.3b, 1.3b1, 1.3c, 1.4 and the most recent – HDMI 2.0 which was released in September 2013. The good thing is that these versions are backward compatible with previous versions.
HDMI 1.3 brought many significant improvements to HDMI technology such as high speed, Deep Color, mini connections to camcorders, lip sync, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™. HDMI 1.4 saw the introduction of HDMI Ethernet, Audio Return Channel (surround sound), 3D video formats, 4K support equivalent to commercial movie quality, Content Type, Additional Color Spaces to accommodate advanced computer graphics, an HDMI Micro Connector and Automotive Connection System to accommodate developments unique to the automotive industry.
With the significant developments of HDMI 1.3 and 1.4, consumers could be forgiven for wondering how it could be possible to take on even more enhancements but this is exactly what has been delivered. The backward compatible functionality becomes ever more important too. The main feature of HDMI 2.0 is in the area of bandwidth in that it has been increased all the way up to 18Gbps as a response to consumer demand for increased audio and video experiences. You can expect 4K@50/60, (2160p), up to 1536kHz audio frequency, wide angle theatrical support, 32 audio channels, dual video streams and multi-stream audio. These last two features are set to create an unparalleled gaming environment.
HDMI only specifies the performance requirements of a cable, not the length of the cable so manufacturers of HDMI cables are able to provide cables in a range of lengths designed to suit the many and varied needs of consumers. These can range from as little as 3 feet through to 75 feet or more. This allows users to customize their home theater and gaming requirements to suit a variety of set up options. It is to be expected that technological developments will bring about changes in cable lengths.
HDMI cable reviews will provide insight as to the various benefits of the many different HDMI cables currently available in the marketplace but the main benefit consumers can expect to find is in relation to audio and visual quality. With the technology that is currently being deployed in output devices such as HDTVs, a traditional coaxial cable can seem a little outdated when compared to the digital audio and visual experience that can be achieved by using an HDMI cable. They are convenient too, with only one cable being required rather than a myriad of cables cluttering the back area of your TV.
In answer to the original question of ‘what is an HDMI cable?’ we can add in something else now that we know a little bit more about them. If you are a gamer or rely heavily on home theater equipment for the majority of you in-house entertainment, you can see that an HDMI cable is something that can make the difference between an ‘OK coaxial experience’ or a digital audio and video extravaganza. Check out some HDMI reviews and find an HDMI cable that will suit you best.