If you are considering an upgrade to your home-entertainment system, you will need the right HDMI cable to support emerging technologies. HDMI cables were developed to combine high-definition audio and visual cables into one standard cable, and they continue to evolve as more advanced technologies become available.
HDMI cables connect your Blu-ray player, gaming console, stereo system and cable or satellite box to your flat-screen HDTV or projector. They provide the first uncompressed, all-digital audio and visual interface in one connection, which makes installation easier. The sound and picture they transmit are also better quality than ever before. We discuss more about how these cables work in our articles about HDMI cables.
However, not all high-speed HDMI cables are made the same. In this review, we discuss variations in the cables' manufacturing processes and materials used that will alter their quality. We also discuss how the cables continue to evolve to support new features. The cables we rank the highest include the Monster 1000HD Ultimate High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet, dCables HDMI 1.4 Hi-Speed Cable with Ethernet and the Monster 700HD Advanced High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet.
The best HDMI cables include an Ethernet-channel component that provides an internet connection for devices that are equipped to receive the internet through an HDMI cable. Most devices you purchase today that have HDMI ports also provide access to the internet, either through browsers or apps, so cables with Ethernet eliminate one more cord you need during the installation process. The Ethernet connection also provides an improvement over a wireless connection.
Many HDMI cables today also support 3D and advanced color capabilities. If you have devices with such features, you need a cable that has the capacity to transmit all that data. Otherwise, you will be paying a lot for features from which you won't benefit.
The high-speed HDMI cables we included in this review provide multiple lengths. However, at minimum, they provide a length that is either 6 feet or 2 meters (approximately 6.6 feet). The cables also have a bandwidth of at least 10.2 Gbps (gigabits per second) and support a 1080p resolution, although most exceed those measures. We evaluated the cables using the following categories: capacity and compliance, supported video, supported audio, additional features, and help and support.
Capacity & Compliance
This category considers a cable's bandwidth and its compliance with some of the main certifications in the industry. The HDMI 1.4 cables provide additional high-definition vertical pixel resolution (1080p) than 1.3 cables (only 720p).
All the best cables include Ethernet channels today. Although few, if any, devices have such a capability today, we are confident that the technology will become the standard in the near future. The ports in electronic devices that receive the cables are just as important as the cables themselves in transmitting a signal. HDMI Licensing LLC is a nonprofit partnership comprised of some of the most influential electronics companies, such as Sony, Hitachi and the parent companies of RCA and Panasonic. If they are creating a cable with Ethernet, they are developing Blu-ray players, gaming consoles and HDTVs that will accept it.
A number of cables we reviewed exceeded the bandwidth necessary to support 1080p, which is the standard for high resolution today. Doing so is necessary in order to support advanced color features such as sYCC601 and Adobe YCC601 color. It is also necessary to support 3D, which consists of the transmission of two separate 1080p images at the same time. The term 4K, or four times the 1080p resolution, is common throughout HDMI cable literature. Cables with 4K support these advanced video features.
Re-creating the cinematic experience in a home-theater system requires a dynamic soundtrack to accompany the spectacular video. High-speed HDMI cables support all multi-channel surround-sound programming, whether it be the compressed Dolby Digital or DTS systems or the uncompressed (often called lossless) formats, such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio that are replacing them. High-speed HDMI cables also support Lip Sync, a technology designed to keep ever more complicated audio and video in perfect step.
The additional features category includes physical features of the cables. Many of the HDMI male to HDMI male cables we reviewed use high-purity copper conductors that reduce internal metal corrosion and provide the best connection. They also use triple shielding that protects against interference, or cross talk between internal wires or other electronic sources within your household. The best cables use gold-plated terminals, which prevent external metal corrosion, and they use nitrogen gas injection inside the cables to provide a cushion between the copper conductors and the external casing.
Help & Support
HDMI cables are generally extremely reliable and easy to install. Still, there are times when advice might be necessary, and we highlight customer-service options that the product manufacturers provide. We also present the products' warranty information.
HDMI cables are an important component in your home-entertainment system. Consider your cable selection wisely so that you can enjoy all the advanced features that your system has to offer.
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