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A Buyers Guide To HDMI Cables

With High Definition devices becoming increasingly popular, it’s important to select the correct cable. But what exactly is HDMI and what do all the numbers mean.

HDMI
(High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is an audio video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data between high definition devices such as HD DVD players, HD satellite boxes and High Definition Televisions. It offers crystal clear, all-digital, audio and video signal in a single cable.

Versions
There are various versions of HDMI cable, v1.0, v1.2, v1.3a, v1.3b. The versions of 1.3 (a & b) relate to the testing specification to which the cable has been certified and do not necessarily offer increased functionality.

All newer versions are fully backwards compatible with older versions. The HDMI licensing authority is currently working with manufacturers to focus on features and de-emphasize version numbers to help reduce customer confusion. The features fall into three categories:

Standard and High Speed refer to the two types of HDMI cables and can be used with 1080i and 780p devices. High Speed HDMI cables can be used for 1080p devices such as Blu -ray players and PS3 gaming consoles.
Deep Colour, this refers to Television and monitors that can display more colours than standard .
X.V Colour, this offers an expanded, or wider range of colours which can not usually be displayed on a TV.

What to Look For.
When buying HDMI cables there are certain things to look out for. Ferrite EMI Suppressors are important for reducing electro magnetical interference, they are round barrel shaped coils usually found on either end of the cable. Shielded or even double and triple shielded cables improve quality. Gold plated connectors don not have a massive effect on image quality, but they do reduce oxidization.

Cable length
HDMI cable specification does not define a maximum cable length, but due to attenuation there is a limit as to how long a HDMI lead can successfully transmit the signal. Build quality and the material greatly affect the overall length an HDMI cable can be used without losing quality. A safe limit for no loss of quality would be around 7.5M. Higher quality cables can be used up to 20M. Amplifiers are available to increase the distance a signal can travel without deteriorating.

How Much To Spend
Most equipment manufacturers will supply a basic cable in the box; this cable is intended to get you up and running. The most cost effective upgrade you can make is to spend a few pounds on a good quality HDMI cable. It is pointless spending 1500 pounds on a 42 inch TV and then 5 pounds on a cable. Budget cables are fine, but generally the more you spend the better quality you can expect. A good rule of thumb would be to spend around 5% of the cost of your TV.

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