In the last post, we talked about whether or not you needed to buy the most expensive HDMI cables out there in order to ensure a brilliant, crisp, vivid picture in your home theater (spoiler alert: you don’t). Today we’re going to discuss the various versions of HDMI cables out there and hopefully help you cut through the noise so you can make the best purchase for your needs.
Now, while we stated in the last post that the only cable you need to connect all your devices in your home theater is typically an HDMI cable, we want to clarify that there are a number of different versions out there. Let’s look at each one in turn and what it offers. In the end, we’ll make some recommendations.
STANDARD HDMI CABLE
The Standard HDMI cable is designed to handle most home applications, and is tested to reliably transmit 1080i or 720p video – the HD resolutions that are commonly associated with cable and satellite television, digital broadcast HD, and upscaling DVD players.
STANDARD HDMI CABLE WITH ETHERNET
This cable type offers the same baseline performance as the Standard HDMI Cable shown above (720p or 1080i video resolution), plus an additional, dedicated data channel, known as the HDMI Ethernet Channel, for device networking. HDMI Ethernet Channel functionality is only available if both linked devices are HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled.
HIGH SPEED HDMI CABLE
The High Speed HDMI cable is designed and tested to handle video resolutions of 1080p and beyond, including advanced display technologies such as 4K, 3D, and Deep Color. If you are using any of these technologies, or if you are connecting your 1080p display to a 1080p content source, such as a Blu-ray Disc player, this is the recommended cable.
HIGH SPEED HDMI CABLE with ETHERNET
This cable type offers the same baseline performance as the High Speed HDMI Cable shown above (1080p video resolution and beyond), plus an additional, dedicated data channel, known as the HDMI Ethernet Channel, for device networking. HDMI Ethernet Channel functionality is only available if both linked devices are HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled.
If you want to ensure that you are getting all of the capabilities that one cable can handle, then shop for High Speed HDMI Cables that are labeled 2.0a. However, if you’re not running 4k yet, and don’t have an ultra high definition blu-ray player, and most do not, then HDMI 1.4 should be more than sufficient. Also, on a sidenote, don’t be concerned that a cable like an HDMI 2.0a will not be compatible with your older blu-ray or TV: HDMI cables are backwards compatible!