Cable Shopping for the right cable.
If you go to your local home theatre store, you may be confronted by a variety of "extreme" sounding names for cabling: Mega Cables, Monster Cables, Kordz Cables and so on. The proliferation of "boutique" cabling is always a source of controversy in home theatre and audiophile circles.
The question is how much difference do they make, and are they worth it? Well despite the perils involved in even mentioning this topic, I'm going to attempt to add something to the discussion.
The most important thing to recognize is that a cable cannot improve the sound of a home stereo system any more than an electrical wire can create extra electricity when you plug it into the wall.
That's actually a very good example, because when you're listening to audio for instance, what we're hearing is an electronic representation of acoustic sounds Ė that is to say, the actual sounds have not been captured and stuffed into a compact disc like fireflies in a child's jar Ė they have been copied, imitated, and a representation stored on the disc as a series of numbers.
These numbers are then read and translated into electronic signals, which are sent to the speakers in order to approximate the actual sounds. With that in mind, it makes sense that poor quality wires don't physically change the sound Ė instead it's like a game of 'telephone', in which the band tells the CD, the CD tells the player, the player tells the wires, and the wires tell the speakers, with something being lost at every step so that the message "Aunt Betty baked a pie" is altered to "Fat Eddy wants to cry" or what should be a great live recording sounds tinny, distant, or otherwise just plain wrong.
A good cable will change the signal as little as possible, but all cables do damage your signal a bit - it's simply a matter of degree. As far as which cables are the best? That's up to you or your local audio guru to decide - much is up to personal preference, with the rest probably being left up to your budget to decide.
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HDMI An Explanation
1. The differences between High Definition and Full High Definition?
HD on its own when you're talking about TVs can mean anything - it can mean a full HD TV with true 1080p resolution. It can also mean an old plasma that has 1024x768-pixel resolution or 1366x768-pixel resolution and has a high-definition (HD) TV tuner on-board.
High Definition is generally used to describe the reproduction of video and/or film in higher than normal standard definition as displayed on a visual display such as LCD or Plasma.
There are three common formats of High Definition.
720p (1280x720 pixels),
1080i (1080 lines of interlaced horizontal resolution),
and 1080p (1920x1080 pixels) and usually means HDMI.
Resolutions ending in "p" (progressive scan) are stated in terms of pixel resolution, whereas a number ending in "i" (interlaced) is not reliant on vertical resolution (number of pixels across the width of the screen), but rather it is a higher resolution form of PAL or NTSC.
HD is commonly used as a label for the 720p and 1080i formats, whereas Full High Definition (HDMI) has been unofficially adopted by the industry to denote the higher resolution 1920x1080. So displays with the "Full HD" label should be expected to be able to resolve native 1920x1080 images pixel-for-pixel, from sources such as Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Note that a display with 1080 pixels high and NOT having 1920 pixels wide should not be labelled as "Full HD".
A. Full HD is generally the term used by TV manufacturers and retailers to denote that a TV has 1920x1080-pixel - or 1080p - resolution. This is the maximum resolution supported by Blu-ray movies and to show a Blu-ray movie on a TV at its best, you need a Full HD TV to show the full resolution.
2. Will any "HDMI 1.4" labelled cable be suitable for use with "Full HD"?
:HDMI cable 'speed'. Answer: Here's a background of the HDMI cable compliance test levels;
|2.22 Gbps (720p/1080i)||2.22 Gbps 'Category 1'|
10.2 Gbps 'Category 2'
|2.22 Gbps (Cat 1) 'Standard'|
10.2 Gbps (Cat 2) 'High Speed'
Either w/ Optional (HDMI Ethernet Channel ( HEC )
Specifically, the High-Speed designation means it is compatible with the updated HDMI standard to support 3D formats, known as version 1.4a. 3D HDTV's equipped with HDMI 1.4a compatible inputs can show full HD (1920 x 1080p) 3D movies and TV shows from compatible 3D Blu-ray players, as well as content from compatible game consoles and set-top boxes.
There are actually two distinct certification standards for HDMI cables:
Standard Speed (1.3 Cat.1 test): for SD and broadcast HD up to 720p/1080i
High Speed (1.3 Cat.2 test): for FULL HD 1080p+ resolution. These cables have full feature set compatibility, including Deep Color, and advanced audio formats.
It is widely assumed that a "1.3 certified cable" is what's normally required to get the functionality offered by the HDMI 1.3 specification. In fact, Standard Speed HDMI cables are certified at exactly the same level as were HDMI 1.2 cables; no change whatsoever.
Only the new High Speed Specification has been designed for the extra bandwidth required to achieve the latest feature sets for Deep Color, xvYCC and HD Audio, as well as certified 1080p.
3. Which type of cable do I need for my application?
Regardless of the sources that you are running, use a Standard HDMI cable if your display is anything less than 1920x1080 resolution, and use a High Speed Specification HDMI cable if your display is of native 1920x1080 resolution. The hard part right now is determining what cables are Standard and which ones are High Speed - this is something for which you must rely on the manufacturer.
It is also worth mentioning that many 'Standard Speed' HDMI cables can also support more than the minimum requirements, adding support for features such as 1080p (at 24bit). This will vary with length and model, so it is worth checking with the manufacturer. Liken this to CAT6 which is only certified to 600MHz in formal specification, yet is commonly used for 1GHz applications - likewise for some Standard Speed cables which are certified to 1080i but may support up to 1080p.
HDMI offers many benefits over Component Video as a video format. Examples such as pixel for pixel mapping are not possible with Component Video, allowing for more detail when available. There is also potential for better contrast and color saturation with the digital bitstream of HDMI. There is also less potential for loss with the digital - analog - digital conversion that is required for Component Video.
It is known that individual results can have an impact on the visual experience. This is attributable to the many variables in equipment, such as for example the quality of the digital processing in the source. Many displays do an excellent job of scaling and processing a component video signal, making differences subjectively little.
However, it is a fact that video over HDMI has the potential of giving a better picture. Besides video, there are many other advantages available to the HDMI format such as audio, device control, auto detection of settings and widespread industry support. Furthermore the new features available with the HDMI 1.3 specification, such as Deep Color and xvYCC color space (see below) cannot be supported by Component Video.
4. Briefly what do the "Color" terms mean?
x.v.Color, also known as xvYCC actually refers to the color space. High Color space means pushing available colors in the spectrum of light beyond the boundaries set in RGB or YCbCr to include the entire spectrum visible to the human eye. The ability to display or view x.v.Color may allow you to see a bright fluorescent green that was previously not displayable on RGB or CMYK devices.
Deep Color allows greater shades or tonal range between colors. In simple terms, an example may be that Deep Color allows many more shades between a light green and a dark green.
Popular HDMI cables that connect high-definition video appliances to TVs and other appliances is constantly gaining continued popularity. Itís just a simple cable upgrade, but it will mean far easier set-up of Internet-connected devices in the your living room.
And that means that web-connected devices are going to multiply in homes. Call it cable simplification. Instead of a ratís nest of cables behind your entertainment centre, you can now get by with fewer cables thanks to this new 1.4 version of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface.
Thereís an undeniable link between HDMI and CAT6, and no, Iím not talking about HDMI transmission over CAT6 solutions Ė not in this document anyway. Iím referring to the fact that they both use multiple twisted pairs for primary data transmission. If you are already very familiar with CAT6 cable, then take the time apply what you understand about CAT6 cable to HDMI. It may be more simple than you think to determine good cables from, well... not so good.
ē CAT6 comprises four twisted pairs, most commonly 24AWG
ē Defined under standard TIA/EIA-568-B as supporting bandwidth to 250MHz
ē Common application Ė Gigabit Ethernet (1Gbps). Can be used for more, but with greater limitations
ē Solid core used for "horizontal" runs (e.g. in-wall). Maximum bandwidth and relatively easy to site terminate
ē Stranded core exhibits higher attenuation rates than solid, reducing bandwidth potential. But generally more flexible than solid core, hence used for short patch cords.
Now, in case you thought CAT6 cables are pretty much all the same, as they all just carry "1"s and "0"s (how often we hear this about HDMI!), hereís a couple of simple challenges for you;
More than a billion HDMI connectors and cables have shipped since they were launched in 2004. HDMI connects devices such as Blu-ray player to a TV set with no loss in the high-definition video quality. All new TVs have the HDMI connectors, as do many other video appliances.
The new HDMI 1.4 cables will now let you transfer Internet data along the same cable that currently transfers only video and audio data. That new feature is dubbed the HDMI Ethernet Channel, and, once itís adopted by the industry, youíll be able to get rid of the Ethernet cables connecting every single web-connected device. It transfers data at up to 100 megabits per second.
This solves problems for people like me, who have an awful time connecting devices to the web and each other in the living room. I have also used powerline Internet adapters, which connect my DSL broadband line to my living room via power sockets. Wireless doesnít work so well in my home. So right now, I have to switch cables from one game console to another whenever I use them. Itís a hassle.
Of course consumers will have to get new cables in order to eliminate some older cables. Thatís an added expense and it will take time, maybe years, for the transition to happen.
At least HDMI is keeping up with the times. About 42 percent of all consumer electronics devices will require Ethernet in 2011. With more devices connected to the Internet, this new connector means that you will be able to access your content via the Internet on more of your future home devices. The Ethernet connection enables a variety of new applications, such as the ability to play a video on a Blu-ray player on any web-connected TV in your home.
It also has an Audio Return Channel so you can connect your stereo to your TV and have it play music on your TV set, even as you get rid of a cable. And HDMI 1.4 has Automatic Content Enhancement, which optimizes the settings on your TV to fit whatever movie or video youíre playing. It also has 3-D support and support for higher resolution video of 4,000 x 2,000 pixels. And another new feature is a complete colour palette that allows you to connect almost any HD digital still camera and show the pictures with the highest viewing quality on your TV. Sometimes TVs donít have the breadth of colour to display still pictures well.
Still another feature is the Micro HDMI connector. This connector is about the size of a mini universal serial bus (USB) connector. It can likely be built into cell phones in the future to let you play back high-definition video recorded with a cell phone camera on a TV. I recently saw a demonstration of that at Broadcomís offices in Sunnyvale, Calif. It looked pretty cool.
It will be interesting to see the competition that emerges between HDMI and other cables/connectors such as DisplayPort, which links multiple displays together. DisplayPort is the first display interface to rely on packetized data transmission, a form of digital communication found in other technologies like Ethernet, USB, and PCI Express.
It allows both internal and external display connections, and unlike legacy standards where differential pairs are fixed to transmitting a clock signal with each output, the DisplayPort protocol is based on small data packets known as micro packets which can embed the clock signal within the data stream.
HDMI supporters include Hitachi, Panasonic Corporation, Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson and Toshiba. More than 850 companies have adopted HDMI technology.
On my cinemacables site Iíve provided details you need to know HDMI cables so that you can choose the right one for your needs.
If youíre in a hurry and want to know where the best place to buy is, then youíll find Amazon has the lowest prices by far. In fact itís not easy to find these TVís in local stores, because they tend not to stock them, so shopping online is usually the only way.