HDMI Cables and Connectors

 

 

HDMI Cables & Connector Types


It seems like every time technology takes a leap forward, connecting that technology together gets more complicated. The USB standard for computers was designed to reduce the number of connections necessary on the
back of a computer; but computers today have more connections than ever. Part of this problem comes from trying to maintain backwards compatibility; another part is that not everyone changes over to the "new look" at the same time.


Not only does the problem exist of trying to keep everything connected together, but of trying to connect it ALL. Have you noticed how many different things we are connecting together these days? When I look at the
floor behind my desk, I expect all those wires and cables to join together and form some sort of monster; which has to eat some city in Japan, of course. Really, there could be a dead body hiding in there and I'd never know.


Our entertainment centers are getting to be the same way. Whereas once upon a time, an "entertainment center" consisted of a television (of course, we didn't call it an entertainment center at that time), now we've got enough things connected to our TVs to confuse a NASA engineer.

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) came about because of this same problem. When HDTV came about, the DVI (Digital Visual Interface) was created. Actually, it was created a little earlier than that, because HDTV was invented to give our TVs as good a picture as our computers, but that's another story.

The only problem with DVI is that it's only a video interface. Last I checked, televisions have both video and audio. I mean, have you ever tried watching a TV program in a restaurant where they've got the volume turned way down? It's confusing as all get out. Television is a multi-sensory experience, involving both the eyes and the ears. So, the
inventors of DVI only dealt with part of the need.

The major difference between HDMI and DVI, other than the connectors, is that HDMI's format is designed to carry both video and audio signals, along with CEC (which is the Consumer Electronics Control) and DDC (Digital Data Channel) and an Ethernet data connection (as of HDMI 1.4).

That's actually quite a bit to fit into one connector, but with the 19 pin configuration of the HDMI standard, there are enough connections to go around.

HDMI & DVI Compatibility


HDVI to DVI adapterHDMI is based upon DVI, using the same protocol for transmitting uncompressed video signal. This protocol is called TMDS (Transition Minimized Differential Signaling). What that means for you, as a consumer, is that any device which uses DVI connections can be connected to HDMI connections via a simple adapter. No special electronic wizardry is needed.

HDMI Connector Types

With the release of the HDMI 1.4 specification, there are now four different types of HDMI connectors. While it would have been nice to stick with one, I guess I'm being a little unrealistic. The original HDMI 1.0 only had two; the others have been added since then, to meet industry needs.

Type A Connector

HDMI Type A - Standard

This is the original HDMI connector, released in version 1.0. It is a
19 pin connector, carrying both video and audio signals. The business part of
the connector is about 19 mm wide

Type B Connector

HDMI Type B - Extended Pin

HDMI 1.0 also made provision for an extended 29 pin connector, which
has not been used. This connector is slightly wider than the Type A, with a
shield of 21.2 mm wide.

Type C Connector

HDMI Type C - Mini

The "mini" connector was developed in HDMI version 1.3, to
accommodate the need for a smaller connector in portable equipment. The micro connector drops down to 11.2mm wide, about 60% of the Type A connector.

Type D Connector

HDMI TYPE D - Micro

The newest member of the HDMI connector family is the "micro", which
was released in version 1.4 to allow HD video connectivity for cell phones
and other smaller electronic devices. The micro connector is only 6.4 mm
wide, 1/3 the width of the original connector. HDTV on a cell phone? (Yep! Ed.)

DVI

DVI

Okay, this isn't part of the HDMI family, I've only included the DVI
connector here to give you a visual comparison, in case you're trying to
figure out what you've got.


By the way, there are adapters and cables available for converting from one type of HDMI connector to another.

HDMI Cable Types

In addition to the different types of connectors for HDMI, there are several different types of cables used, depending upon the application. The difference isn't so much in the quality of the cable or the size, but in its intended application. The HDMI specs provide requirements for performance characteristics of the cables, not specific sizes, materials, or manufacturing methods. That means you want to be sure to buy your HDMI cables
from a quality manufacturer to insure performance.

One nice thing about HDMI cables is that each wire pair is a twisted pair, making them balanced cables. This drastically reduces the signal to noise ratio, allowing for longer cable runs without signal loss. In fact, even with the low signal levels that HDMI uses, you can run HDMI cables 50 feet without any appreciable signal loss.

Before the HDMI 1.4 standard (which was released in May 2009), HDMI cables were labeled according to the version that they were built to support. However, version 1.4 does away with this, specifically prohibiting the inclusion of a version number on the labeling. Instead, HDMI cables are designated as belonging to one of five separate categories:

standard hdmi cables

Standard HDMI Cables

Designed to meet the needs of most home applications. Standard HDMI
cables can reliably transmit 1080i or 720p video plus surround sound.

hdmi with ethernet cable

Standard HDMI Cables with Ethernet

Meets the same requirements as standard HDMI cables, plus the
addition of a dedicated Ethernet channel for Internet connection sharing
between devices and device networking.

hdmi automotive cable

Standard HDMI Automotive Cable

Meet the same requirements as standard HDMI cables, but are designed
for automotive applications.

high speed hdmi cable

High-Speed HDMI Cable

Designed to handle higher video resolutions of 1080p and beyond,
including advanced video technologies, such as 3D and 4K.

high speed hdmi cable with ethernet

High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet

Meets the same requirements as High-Speed HDMI cables, plus the
addition of a dedicated Ethernet channel for Internet connection sharing
between devices and device networking.


You need to be aware that all of these cables are ratherfragile. When installing in your home or automobile, avoid pulling on the cables or twisting connectors. Never attach HDMI cables with a staple gun, as the pinching of the cable by the staple (let alone puncturing it) can destroy it.

Okay, Let's Put it Together


Looking at all this, it can seem a bit overwhelming, trying to figure out which cable to buy for your system. In reality, there are only a few pieces of information you need to know:

  •          Cable Application - Are you using it in automotive, with 3D or other equipment that would prevent you from using a standard cable? If so, that should be readily stated in the installation instructions for your equipment.

  •          Ethernet Capability - Do you need the Ethernet capability in the cable? Obviously, if your equipment can't use this capability, you'd be wasting money buying a cable that has it (although it will work fine). Once again, your installation instructions should tell you this.

  •          Cable Length - You're on your own on this one; it all depends upon you and where you're going to install it.

  •          Connector Type - Be sure to check both of the pieces of equipment you're trying to connect together, as they may not use the same HDMI connectors; especially if you're trying to connect a portable device to a stationary one.


With this information, all you have to do is look for a cable that meets all of those criterion. Still confused? That's what Live Help is for. We'll be glad to help you pick out the right cable for your needs; but you'll still need that information.