Beginners Guide to HDMI cables, switches and accessories

What is HDMI Cable used for, and where to find the best one. Know the what, why and how of HDMI cables

Home entertainment is booming like anything and you have a range of gadgets to choose from. And for them to function properly you need various types of cables and cords.

In recent times, HDMI technology has become the preferred choice primarily because of its ability to provide high quality picture quality, video & sound.

And because it is recent technology, some of the options available are a bit on the expensive side. Here are some quality options that you may consider, if you are looking for a cheap HDMI cable.

How to Connect Laptop Computer to TV using HDMI

Watch: How to Connect Laptop to TV using HDMI

How to Connect Laptop Computer to TV (Wireless Method)

How to Connect Laptop Computer to TV using HDMI (Various Ways)

Watch: How to Connect Your Laptop to Your Television, using various ways such as HDMI, VGA.

How to Connect Smartphones / Tablets to TV (Wire & Wireless)

Watch: How to connect Android phones & tablets to TV, the method also works with iPhones & iPads to HDTV but will need lightning adapter cable.

HDMI is Newer Technology

The biggest advantage of HDMI is that it allows both audio and video transmission in the digital format. Most other cables use analog signals, and in the case of DVI interface that is found on most set-up boxes and computers, it only delivers video signals. You may use a DVI to HDMI converter for better quality digital display.

Using a HDMI cable is a good choice as it makes things easy, such as translating signals between digital formals and analogue, and so on. It also delivers a much better quality because of the uncompressed digital signals.

Above all, it supports the cutting edge 1080p high definition video standards.

Connecting the various electronics equipment is easy using HDMI and it also provides greater bandwidth required for streaming video and audio.

What Does it Stand For?

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It’s a digital replacement for existing analog video standards.

It basically involves transmitting digital data in the uncompressed form.

There are other types of cables out there but those are analog; and digital is better than analog when it comes to transferring data.

And because there is no compression of the data, the clarity provided by HDMI cables is much better than those based on the previous technologies.

What is HDMI Used For?

Its a compact audio/video interface used for transferring uncompressed video data and compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from an HDMI-compliant device (“the source device”) to a compatible digital audio device, computer monitor, video projector, or digital television.

what is hdmi cable

What Are its Advantages?

Here are the benefits:

  1. HDMI is currently the de-facto standard digital interface for HD and the consumer electronics market
  2. Its a high-quality, single-cable, all-digital solution to interconnect all electronic components, supports standard, enhanced, or high-definition video
  3. It delivers crystal-clear, all-digital audio and video via a single cable
  4. Simplifies cabling between devices
  5. It is a two-way platform, that lets individual components to “talk” to each other
  6. Provide consumers with highest-quality home theater experience.
  7. Enables connections between HDTVs and Computer monitors.

Here are a couple of videos that explains more about HDMI cables:

HDMI Cable vs Analog Cable

When you use an analog cable (red, green and blue colored-cables) with digital sources (such as LCD monitor), there’s a lot of conversion that happens in the background (digital audiovisual data must be converted into analog signals to travel through the analog cable, and then re-converted back into digital at the receiving end).

As you can see, the process causes signal degradation and results in significant loss in output quality.

Now, if you were to use a standard DVD player and non-digital sources, it would not matter much and you can very well use the analog cable.

But if you want to connect a High quality (1080p) digital source such as Blu-Ray DVD Player, PS3 and XBox 360 to your High Definition Television, the signal degradation can affect the overall output quality.

And that is why you need HDMI Cable to connect those gadgets, as HDMI delivers the best image quality (without any loss in output quality) and can handle high-definition video of up to 1080p resolution and 60fps.

HDMI Connector

hdmi connector An HDMI connector looks more like USB cable, but offers better uses:

  • It carries both audio and video
  • Makes the HDTV installation experience more like plug and play.
  • Transfers data in digital format
  • Provides perfect picture quality
  • Reduces clutter, associated with the traditional cables
  • I’m sure you would be aware that HDMI is slowly becoming the standard for HDTV connections, as more and more consumers are opting for high definition television.

    Though your HD television may have the highest specs, only HDMI cables can let you enjoy those.

    Internal Design
    The video portion of the HDMI is handled by three separate differential pair; each of these pair transmits 1 of 3 uncompressed native digital of R, G, B signals from the source (such as DVD player and set top box) to the HDTV display.

    It uses a unique protocol to transmit the digital data. Each of these pixels is typified by 24 bits, eight bits each for every primary color. The TMDS clock then provides the pixel clock needed for data stream timing.

    Data Transfer Rate
    The data rate of the single link HDMI connection is 4.96Gbps. This is because the maximum rate of pixel clock is 165 MHz and every 3 TMDS video streams deliver 10 bits.

    The totality of the date rate is calculated by multiplying 165MHz x 3 x 10 and derived to the answer 4.96Gbps.

    There are 19 separate pins that can be found in the HDMI connector and 3 pairs of TMDS signals carrying the digital video and audio signals. These are the things that can be found inside the connector.

    You can read more on these cables here on this site. There are several brands that make these HDMI connectors so feel free to read the reviews of these products.

    Choosing the Right HDMI Cable

    Even though HDMI cables are better, you still need to chose from a wide variety of choices.

    You also need to be clear about the cable length you are after.

    When you also buy check that the type of HDMI Cable is the correct type/specs for your digital device.

    These come in various price ranges, depending on:

  • Quality
  • Plating used for the connectors
  • Length
  • Whether it is high speed or standard HDMI
  • You can get cables that are very cheap, and the same cables (from a different brand) can be priced more.

    So how much do you have to pay for a good quality HDMI Cable? Here are some guidelines.

  • If you need a short cable (say 1m), the cheaper ones will deliver similar result as the more expensive Cable. The price difference exists because of the plating used (gold plated connectors will definitely cost more).
  • Gold plated cables will not deliver better picture quality, but they will last longer.
  • If you need longer HDMI Cables (more than 1m), high-quality cables which can support a higher resolution output (1080p) are better than the cheaper ones.
  • The difference between standard HDMI cable and a high speed HDMI cable is speed.
    1. Standard HDMI Cable: up to 1080i and 720p
    2. High Speed HDMI Cable: 1080p, 3D and deep color

    Buying Cheap HDMI Cables

    Looking for Cheap HDMI Cables? Here are some alternatives to the more expensive brands.

    Because these cables are so useful, they can also be expensive, with prices varying from $10 to $50. But you do get cheap HDMI cables that function well, and are suited for most requirements.

    Most consumers think that expensive equates to better quality, but it’s not always true. For example,
    gold-plated connectors add to the cost but don’t really add to the efficiency of the cable (it can be durable though).

    So you have to consider these things when buying. There are affordable HDMI cables that work similar to the most expensive HDMI cables available.

    Monster HDMI Video Cables

    monster hdmi cables There are a wide range of HDMI cables available to work with a variety of HDMI devices. For HDTV, the programming is 720p or 1080i and with 2.23Gbps average data rate.

    Monster HDMI cables are among the higher priced cables but then they are solidly built and most come with gold plated connectors. If you want the best option, and want something to last for several years, you can definitely consider this brand.

    The advancement of electronic gadgets means you have to know the specifications of the various products/accessories, along with the manufacturers reputation.

    Monster cables offer several choices, when it comes to price and performance. This gives you more options to select the type that suits your needs best. So the first thing you should do is to decide what kind of devices you want to connect.

    One of the best thing about this brand is that they offer lifetime guarantee on their products, which is a great deal for consumers.

    Here are some typical scenarios where these cables can be used.

  • A Monster Advanced High Speed HDMI cable is recommended for use with HD DVD with DTS-HD surround sound or Dolby True HD, because it has a large data transfer rate of 6.68Gbps.
  • The three main formats in AV receivers namely: General surround, Lossless surround and Receivers that offer conversion of 1080p
  • Most modern game consoles also use Monster HDMI because they are now high definition with surround system.
  • TVs on the other hand come with a wide variety of resolution capacities.
  • Monster Standard HDMI cable works on all these.

    Belkin HDMI

    Belkin HDMI Cables: Belkin is among the more trusted brands when it comes to HDMI cables; most buyers of cables and cords consider it to be among the best in the market.

    High definition multimedia interface allows delivery of digital and high definition audio and video via one cable. It makes absolute sense to use such cables as they minimize the clutter that arises out of using multiple cables.

    When using HDMI cables, aim for the ones that support full 1080p quality.

    There are lots of expensive HDMI cables available in the market but then you really don’t have to go for those. Belkin is among the more affordable ones, almost three to five times cheaper than the most expensive ones, yet are high quality HDMI cables.

    Over the years, the market for televisions has become very competitive, and to recover some of the profits, manufacturers have started over-pricing most of their cables. So if you look around, you can definitely find more affordable options.

    HDMI cables are known to improve the quality of picture and sounds on your television, so if you have been waiting to achieve better audio/video clarity, do consider using a Belkin HDMI cable.

    Xbox 360 HDMI Cables

    Xbox 360 HDMI Cables Reviews of Xbox 360 HDMI Cables, used to connect the gaming console to a television.

    About Xbox
    When it comes to gaming and entertainment at home, one of the names that comes to the forefront is that of Xbox 360; it is probably one of the best ones out there.

    Providing a combination of great games & sounds, it can keep you entertained for hours at one stretch. It comes with some really impressive features including some awesome graphics. It can reach resolutions of up to 1080 (highest available as of now) and its possible only because of HDMI cables.

    Using Xbox 360 HDMI Cables
    This cable is used to connect the Xbox 360 console to a high definition TV equipped with an HMDI port. It carries video of 1080 resolution and audio Dolby Digital 5.1 over a single cable.

    You may use the cable exclusively for connecting the Xbox 360 console or use it with other devices as well. You can use these with other HDMI compliant devices such as audio decoder plugged to an HDTV monitor, or directly plug the cable into the display.

    Its always better to use HDMI if you want to get the best possible gaming experience from your investment. There’s no doubt that HDMI cable is a better option than other types of cables when it comes to quality, ease of connection and efficient usage of space.

    If this is the first time, you’re going to use this type of cable for your Xbox 360, it makes sense to read online reviews to get an idea of the best options and the highest performing brands in the market.

    PS4 HDMI Cables

    PS4 HDMI cables are used to connect your PS4 game console to a TV.

    Gaming is big business and quite popular with children and teenagers. Of all the big players out there (such as Nintendo and Microsoft), Sony also has a big presence.

    What is Playstation?
    The PS3 is a game console from Sony and is quite popular throughout the world, despite tough competition from the other brands.

    Most gamers usually connect these consoles to their large screen televisions for a better experience. And to ensure you get the best experience, you need to use high quality cables to make the connection. That is why HDMI cables are preferred to make the connection between a console and the television.

    Using PS4 HDMI Cables
    It’s always better to read reviews of the best HDMI cables so that you can pick the best one for your equipment.

    PS4 HDMI cables are capable of delivering high quality video from your PS4 console, and that is why it makes sense to buy a separate HDMI cable to make the connection for your gaming equipment.

    Typically, PS4 HDMI cables are one rectangular jack cables with transfer rate of about 5 gigabyte per second (PS4 to television). The older analog cables are no longer preferred nowadays because of their lower quality, compared to the more modern HDMI technology. You also have the option of going in for wireless network connections.

    HDMI Wall Plate

    hdmi wall plateHDMI Wall Plate: Remove all the cable clutter and get a clean look with this equipment.

    Every person on this planet would opt for wireless technology, provided it was affordable and worked efficiently. Unfortunately, the fact is that wireless technology is still not very popular.

    And the best way to deal with cable clutter, considering that there are so many electronic gadgets, is to use a HDMI Wall Plate.

    HDMI Wall Plate Uses
    These are basically used to conceal cables in your house. Using this, you can have really long cables that otherwise would look ugly in your room.

    This basically gives you the option of placing your television anywhere you like without having to worry about the length of the cable required and if it will spoil the looks of the room. Technically speaking, you can have wall plates setup in separate rooms and still make the connection between gadgets.

    Buying Considerations
    Most HDMI cables have plastic casing surrounding the plug measuring 1.5 inches, but it is not as tough as 2 inch HDMI cable, so go for the more rugged option.

    You also have to decide if you need single or dual port wall plate. Having a dual port can come in handy in the future.

    HDMI Wall Plates are also available in various colors, so you may choose an HDMI Wall Plate that complements your interiors.

    Wireless HDMI

    The only time you should use Wireless HDMI is when you’re unable or unwilling to run an HDMI cable (which still remains a cost-effective solution for the highest quality picture, for most consumers).

    However wireless does have its own advantages, its much cleaner, and hopefully some day in the future all the connections should be wireless. You get better aesthetics of your home without having to incur costs or hassles of undergoing a custom installation.

    The only way to watch TV through Wireless HDMI is by purchasing a Wireless HDMI extender.

    Though you do have the option of connecting wirelessly, the technology is not cheap. But the good thing is that the prices have been going down over time. Some of these, when they were first introduced to the market were priced over one thousand dollars, but cheaper options are now available to the consumers.

    Any TV will work that runs the HDMI 1.3 standard should work; however, some of the new 3D TV’s may not work. has a great informational page on 3D TV’s here, in case you’re curious to know about this new technology as well.

    If you’re looking to get Wireless HDMI TV then I suggest this extender, it’s relatively inexpensive.

    Wireless HDMI TV

    HDMI Wireless Link
    HDMI Wireless Link is another marketing terminology (that some companies use) to basically talk about the same thing — Wireless HDMI technology.

    Whenever you hear the term Wireless Link, you could be sure that those companies are basically referring to a Wireless HDMI transmitter or a Wireless HDMI Extender.

    Depending on what product you buy, a wireless HDTV Link allows you to connect multiple AV devices to your television, and multiple digital HDMI and component connections (refer to the specs of the product that you buy).

    The best part is that you have the freedom to switch between these devices easily (& instantly), without having to change any sort of cables or plugs-in between uses.

    Delivers wireless High Definition (1080 p/24 picture and digital audio quality), and also complements your home decor. With HDMI-CEC compliance, you can easily control most devices. If you click the above link Amazon has a very informative video on how the technology works in the room.

    For this link to work, you need the television to have an available HDMI port. Most older HDTVs lack HDMI connectors, so you may want to check if your television supports HDMI (you can still make it work using adapters).

    Wireless HDMI Extenders

    Best Wireless HDMI Extenders & Adapters Wireless HDMI extenders are still relatively new to the market. In fact, there are only a handful of different products that provide wireless HDMI signal extension, which I’ll discuss here.

    Even though HDMI is the most efficient way to transfer huge amount of data, different types of data, on a single cable, the problems associated with cable still bothers many. After all, any cable can cause clutter in your room, and the longer it is, the more messy the room looks.

    And that is why consumers are always looking for wireless options that get rid of the wires but still works efficiently.

    Besides, long HDMI wires can also cost a lot, so a better solution is to go for wireless HDMI.

    Here the connection between the various digital sources and the television/projector is accomplished using HDMI extenders/adapters that sends the signal.

    Here are some of the best Wireless HDMI Extender’s on the market:

    Warpia Wireless USB PC to TV Audio / Video Display Adapter
    Here’s one of the Cheapest 1080p option and somethinh that provides reasonable transmission distance. Use it to wirelessly connect you notebook/PC to a flat panel television/display or projector. Most users use it to watch internet content on their big screens. You don’t have to sit in front of your laptop to watch your favorite movies.

    Wireless for HDMI UWB Technology
    The Gefen Wireless HDMI Extender is the perfect solution for sending up to three High Definition AV sources to any one location without the hassle of wires. The Gefen Wireless HDMI Extender is able to accomplish this by employing Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology to send large amounts of data required by the HDMI standard.

    Gefen, though more expensive, is among the best and also most widely known wireless HDMI extender. It provides complete 1080p video support and is also HDCP (Digital Content Protection) compliant. It works like a charm across floors as well, which means no need to run the cables across the floor.

    Wireless HDMI Transmitters

    You can choose from several Wireless HDMI transmitters and receiver combos.

    These devices usually have two HDMI inputs, and an HDMI output. One device sits next to the video source (the transmitter) and the receiver is placed next to your Television where it will receive the transmitted HD signal over the air.

    This also means that you can have a TV, transmitter, and sources (Blu-ray, cable/satelite box, etc) all wired up in one room, and at the same time the equipment will wirelessly send the same signal to another TV, in another room in your house.

    And how’s the performance over longer distances?

    In several testing, including those done by others as well, it’s seen that there’s no appreciable decrease in the picture quality, except over very long distances, and even in that case, it’s noticeable only on really large screens.

    If you have recently renovated your house, and have mounted your TV on the wall, the best way to avoid the clutter is to have provision only to run power to the TV (and not the HDMI cables). The HDMI signals can be sent from your sources wirelessly to the small receiver box (in most cases, the TV itself powers this wireless receiver).

    Checkout popular Wireless HDMI transmitters here.

    HDMI Adapter

    HDMI Adapters An HDMI adapter lets you connect your old electronic equipment to your new HD Television. And almost everybody has some older things which they haven’t got rid of yet.

    Though eventually everything should be on HDMI, until then you need a mechanism wherein older technology can work with the latest technology.

    Here are some more scenarios.

    Some computer monitors have HDMI inputs and VGA inputs, but certain computers come with only DP2HDMI output. These adapters made them all work together!

    Then there are some cables that do NOT have audio support, which cannot be used as you want one cable that provides audio plus video.

    And that is where an HDMI adapter really helps.

    An adapter is basically a multi-pin connector that takes input from the standard definition television ( multi-channel audio signals) and outputs high definition data.

    The end result is that you now have high definition audio and video (uncompressed) that gives you crystal clear video and sound quality.

    When buying one, make sure you get an HDMI adapter of reasonably high quality, and one that makes it easy to make the various connections.

    HDMI to DVI Cable

    HDMI to DVI CableHDMI to DVI Cable: Reviews of the best Digital Visual Interfaces

    Though technology is changing at a much faster rate, and you now have HDMI cables that use the latest data transfer technology, lot of obsolete equipment are still in existence. After all, the older technology just won’t disappear overnight; till that time they will need to be used.

    And that is why you need a HDMI to DVI Cable!

    About DVI
    The Digital Visual Interface (DVI) has been the standard connector method for computer monitors, for the past several years. It replaced the analog VGA port, which enabled people to replace the bulky CRT monitors with the modern slim LCD monitors.

    And because not all the monitors (earlier ones) had speakers, DVI cables were only supposed to deliver video, and not audio signals.

    So, if you use a HDMI to DVI cable, it can only transfer video; you’ll still need to figure out a way to connect the speakers up.

    Both digital and analog versions of DVI exists, however HDMI is purely digital standard. So this cable will work typically with the digital versions DVI-I and DVI-D but won’t work with the analog version DVI-A.

    HDMI to DVI
    HDMI is the most recent standard connector for both audio and video equipment. It is compatible with DVI as well, which means the two equipment can be linked together without requiring any composite electronics in between.

    HDMI to DVI cable is quite cheap and minimizes loss of signal. It can be used for listening to music or watching TV. But it’s just a matter of time before DVI gets replaced with more modern technologies in the future.

    Until then, you can use a HDMI to DVI cable to connect your old computer monitor to modern gaming consoles.

    When buying this kind of cable, choose one with good shielding, ferrite cores and gold plated connectors. It should work in both directions, provided that the connectors have the correct gender.

    HDMI Splitter Reviews

    hdmi splitter All About HDMI Splitter: How does it help and reviews of the best ones.

    With most homes having multiple television sets and various other electronics equipment such as hi-fi music system, and gaming consoles, you need an efficient way to connect these.

    Where & How Is It Used?
    Here’s a simple setup that exists in most homes nowadays.

    There’s a cable TV box and you need to provide its output to more than one television.

    How do you do that? Using a HDMI splitter!

    But then you need to buy a quality product because in this scenario, you would want the televisions to work under different circumstances, such as:

  • Either TV is on or off
  • When one TV is on and switched to another input
  • With either output cable unplugged
  • Turning the input signal (the cable TV box) on and off repeatedly.
  • In each of these scenarios, the television (audio and video) should work fine. And this is just a simple example, you can have several complex cases as well where you would need a splitter that can support multiple connections.

    Choosing a Splitter
    Here are some suggestions:

  • You should ideally buy an HDMI splitter that is v1.3b, which is compatible with older HDMI devices and also works effectively with new ones, at excellent speeds.
  • Avoid really cheap HDMI splitters as they are quite unreliable.
  • You need one that is powered
  • Before choosing a HDMI splitter, make sure you read the user reviews so that you get an idea about its usefulness.

    To Conclude

    Though some day most of our connections should be wireless, there’s still a long way to go before that technology becomes affordable and works seamlessly. Until that time, we have to depend on cables to connect our electronic devices. HDMI is currently a better technology that requires fewer connections, so there’s less hassle and mess. HDMI cables are the best way to transport high quality video and audio data among DVD players, LCD/LED televisions, video game consoles, PCs and cable boxes.