High Definition Multimedia Interface / HDMI cable arose from the desire to simplify the transfer of audio and visual data to an output device. Its predecessor, the Digital Video Interface (DVI) was designed for computer terminals and consists of three individual lines for video and two additional for audio. HDMI combines all of these into a single, compact cable. These cables are produced by wiring the conductors of each circuit into twisted pairs. This methodology has been demonstrated as the most effective means of eliminating interference such as electromagnetic radiation and cross-talk between adjacent pairs. Also, as technology has advanced and new products have been introduced, the bandwidth capacity of HDMI cables has been increased to meet those requirements. As a result, HDMI cables are the preferred means of connecting home entertainment systems.

hdmi cables

Cable Naming Conventions

While all HDMI cables perform well for the purpose in which they are intended, determining the type of cable needed has proven confusing for some. Previously, HDMI cables were designated numerically, according to their corresponding test procedure. To clarify cable types for consumers, the HDMI Organization eliminated the numerical system and designated a standard naming convention for each of the five cable types. All cables produced are currently labeled according to the new naming convention.

Connector Types

There are five different connector types for HDMI cables, each designed for a different purpose. Most have a 19 pin configuration. No naming or labeling convention exists for HDMI connectors, but each type may be differentiated by size. Type A is the standard HDMI connector used for digital audio/visual connections. Type A connectors are 13.90 mm in width. Type B connectors are 21.20 mm wide. They are a 29 pin configuration of the HDMI connector that has not been used. Type C is 10.42 mm wide and was developed for using portable devices. The 6.40 mm wide Type D connector is intended for use with compact portable devices such as mobile phones. Type E was designed for automotive applications and measures 13.90 mm in width. The connector includes a latching shell to prevent it from becoming disconnected as a result of vibration.

Standard HDMI Cables

Standard HDMI cables deliver 2.25 Gbps of bandwidth and are suitable for the majority of home theater applications. The cables are capable of delivering up to 720p or 1080i picture resolution as well as surround sound. These specifications are acceptable for televisions and DVD players with a maximum resolution of 1080i. However, if you plan to experience the full capabilities of a Blu-ray disc player or 1080p resolution HDTV, you’ll require significantly greater bandwidth.

Standard HDMI Cables with Ethernet

Standard HDMI cables with Ethernet deliver the same performance as the Standard HDMI cables with the addition of a dedicated channel for networking. This enables an Internet connection between devices to provide a variety of interactive features such as games and chat. It also allows Internet connectivity among multiple compatible devices using the HDMI cable with Ethernet.

High-Speed HDMI Cables

High-Speed HDMI cables are designed for cutting-edge technologies such as HDTV with 1080p resolutions, Blue Ray, 3D and Deep Color.  The capability to transfer these more intense signals diminishes with distance. Consequently, longer cables, even with the same specifications, should not be expected to perform at the same speed as the shorter ones.

High Speed HDMI Cables with Ethernet

High-Speed HDMI Cables with Ethernet deliver the same performance as the High-Speed HDMI cables with the addition of a dedicated channel for networking. This enables an Internet connection between devices as well as the ability to share content between them.  Connected devices are capable of sending and receiving data at 100 Mb/sec.

Standard Automotive HDMI Cable

Automotive HDMI Cables are designed for connecting HD video systems in automobiles and deliver the same speed as the standard HDMI cables. The insulation is much more durable to withstand the temperature variations and vibrations of the automotive environment.

Understanding the difference between the types of HDMI cables will allow you to purchase a cable appropriate for your needs without spending more than is required. However, it should be noted that the capabilities of Standard HDMI cables are becoming obsolete. Unless you expect to be content with outdated technologies for years to come, you may wish to consider purchasing a High-Speed HDMI cable that has the capabilities to manage today’s newer technologies as well as those of the future.