HDMI stands for “High-Definition Multimedia Interface” and is a cable for connecting audio and video components. It is only capable of carrying a digital signal and so replaces some of the older analogue cables such as RF coaxial cable, composite video, S-Video, SCART, and component video.
It is especially popular now as a way of connecting DVD and Blu-ray players to newer HD Ready televisions and keeps everything digital, and hence there is no degradation in quality. The latest spec cables can also carry sound to an appropriate home cinema amplifier or receiver.
Different Types of HDMI
Of course things aren’t always as simple as they should be, and HDMI is no exception. There are currently a number of specifications of cable, that depending on your requirements, you may have to carefully consider. Without getting too technical, there are are three different specifications to look out for:
In a nutshell, if you are looking to buy or add a high definition capable amplifier or will be needing the cable to carry an audio signal you should be looking at least HDMI 1.3 (and specifically HDMI 1.3b or above). Fortunately, most cables are this specification these days, but it is wise to check before you buy. If you will want to take advantage of 3D television or be as futureproof as you can, then it makes sense to go for an HDMI 1.4 cable. HDMI cables are backwards compatible, so buying the latest spec will still work on older devices and makes the most sense in case you upgrade your equipment in the future.
How Much To Spend?
Ask a dozen people, and you will get a dozen answers to this question. In theory, because it is a digital cable carrying a digital signal there should be no degradation in quality and spending £100 on a cable shouldn’t give any better picture quality than a £10 cable. This is true to a certain degree, however, before you zip off to eBay to buy a cheap cable, make sure you consider the following:
We’ve had good results with a £5 cable and a £150 cable so how much to spend is really up to you. In our opinion, the picture quality difference is negligible, and is not noticeable at all under normal conditions, but we would always recommend going for a well constructed cable from one of the brands if you want it to last.
Where To Buy HDMI Cables
There are numerous suppliers of HDMI cables, but for value and choice, we recommend Amazon.co.uk.