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An Overview of HDMI and How HDMI Cables Work

Wondering how HDMI works? From a technical standpoint, HDMI means High Definition Multimedia Interface. This global connectivity standard was established with a clear mandate of having a high definition transmission video and audio in a wide variety of products.

HDMI exists to enhance quality in viewing and sound systems. With a single HDMI cable, you can experience all digital solutions that you use to connect and interconnect with other components in your home of an office system. This enhanced technology ensures that your systems can communicate with each other as they exchange crucial information. This creates room for adjustments and optimization to be made automatically in an easy and free manner.

HDMI might sound like some fancy science term to those who don’t really up keep with technology.  HDMI is here to stay with us in our daily lives. Almost every household has PlayStation 3, HDTV, Blu-ray player or HD-DVD, and HDMI is found in all of these devices. HDMI is a connection for the home theatre connections or televisions. HDMI is more than a port we are used to seeing on the back of the TV. It is a set of rules that permits high-definition (HD) communication with devices.

Digital vs. Analog TV, the new era

Before HD TVs came along, most TVs used the standard definition to display pictures. The standard definition had a 4:3 ratio with 704 by 480 pixels leading to interlaced pictures. The TVs relied on analog technology to relay the pictures. Due to technology changes and the desire for better picture quality, digital picture display was developed. The digital images travel through cables, or simply electrical pulses. The digital display has a very high aspect ratio of 16:9 and a resolution of 1920 by 1080.

The HDTVs have more pixels, wider screen, and faster refresh rate compared to the standard TVs. This means that the HDTVs call for huge data at a faster pace than the old standard TVs. The HDTVs have the ability to receive this data digitally, and at a faster pace.

Hello to HDMI

The mode of transmission, therefore, led to the birth of HDMI. HDMI was developed by a group of electronics manufacturers as a set of rules for creating connections with high-bandwidth between digital devices. When installed properly, HDMI will bring all the difference to a home theater. The present HDMI standard has 1080p HD signals, providing support to uncompressed audio 8 channels. HDMI helps to significantly reduce the number of cables and remote controls a user may need to watch a movie or decrease the number of cables that the user may need to connect different components.

Compatibility

One downside to the HDMI is the compatibility issue. For you to benefit from HDMI technology, all the components or parts of the home theater have to be compatible. The HDMI cable also has limits in terms of the short time to provide support to the convenient setup.

ARC

ARC stands for Audio Return Channel. It began showing up on some selected HDMI fitted devices a few years back and has become common in most devices. This is simply a technological improvement on the HDMI to enhance the quality of the services of a home entertainment system. ARC provides enhanced ability in power control, volume, and other minor features. Sometimes it automatically transfers the audio of the TV to the unit, without the need of deactivating the TV onboard speakers.

ARC is also essential in sending signals both downstream and upstream over one connection. Through the ARC HDMI, one can connect all the sources—game console, Cable Box, Blu-ray and many others. With all these connections, only one remote control is needed.

What is HDMI, anyway?

HDMI – The Acronym

HDMI is an acronym for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. Back in 2003, HDMI products were introduced to consumers.

HDMI is a proprietary hardware, meaning just anyone can’t create their own version of an HDMI cable. Manufacturers of HDMI have to license it from HDMI.org, the big guys who own the patent. If your cable or hardware isn’t HDMI certified, you might be dealing with a dud. (All of FireFold’s cables are HDMI certified, rest assured. You can buy them here.)

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

The Benefits

One Plug, One Connection

Like we mentioned before, you could use your old cables if you wanted to, but chances are you’re using component connections. Component cables either have three plugs on each end for transferring video, or five plugs if they include audio.

HDMI combines both audio and video into one connection. Instead of three to five things to plug in, you’ve only got one. That one cable carries everything you need to enjoy your favorite movies and shows.

In fact, the newest specification even contains an Ethernet channel to streamline networking those Smart TVs and Internet-connected devices. It also has an Audio Return Channel for reducing cable clutter when you’ve got a receiver in the mix.

Resolution

HDMI cables support resolutions up to 1080p, and more recently 4Kx2K for Ultra HD TVs. This means you’re able to get that brilliantly vivid high definition picture at the best possible quality your hardware allows. On most devices, component connections max out at 1080i.

HDMI also has the ability to transmit uncompressed signals to achieve better resolution without any loss in quality. For capable devices, you are able to view raw, unprocessed footage.

Consumer Electronics Control

An important feature of HDMI is CEC, which allows you to control up to 15 devices using one TV remote control. Who wouldn’t want to do away with all those remotes that keep getting lost in the couch cushions?

Keep in mind, the devices connected have to be CEC enabled to make this an option. Not all devices have this feature enabled.

Going Digital

If you want to achieve that true theater experience in your home, more than likely you’ve invested in surround sound or something similar. HDMI transmits Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio. The newest specification also supports 3D video.

Mobile Connectivity

Americans are glued to their Smartphones–there’s no question about that.

HDMI provides the ability to connect Smartphones and other enabled devices to your TV. Now you can show those kiddo pics and videos in their full splendor to a willing (or unwilling) audience and stream until your heart’s content.

The Drawbacks

(Not) Going the Distance

HDMI is not without limitations, as great as it may sound. Since the transmission of the signal is based largely on the power output of the devices to which it is attached, the distance can be limited depending on the source.

For example, Blu-ray players can usually successfully send an HD signal up to 50 feet away, while computers and gaming consoles max out at 30 feet. This is just a rule of thumb, as every device varies and your mileage may vary. Component cables can be run hundreds of feet with no signal degradation, so you can see why some people might prefer to stick to their tried and true cables.

There are ways around this distance limitation, however. HDMI extenders can take the signal further, and many switches and splitters come equipped with signal-boosting technology out of the box.

HDCP

HDCP is a copyright protection HDMI uses to ensure no one is ripping movies and shows.

This should be straightforward if you’re not trying to bootleg, but older devices created when HDMI first came out sometimes lack the HDCP factor. This means they’re not compatible with newer devices that do have HDCP protection.

This little means of security has been known to cause big headaches, as it can cause hiccups in connections from time to time.

How do HDMI cables work?

HDMI works by the use of transition-minimized differential signaling technology to transfer information or data from one location to another. The transition-minimized differential signaling (TDMS) is a technique that protects information from degradation as it travels down the cable length from one device to another. What happens is that the sending device encodes the signal by reducing the number of transitions. This helps to protect the quality of the signal and limits chances of degradation.

As the information is transmitted, one of the twisted pair of cables carries the signal itself while the other carries the inverse copy of the signal that is in transmission. Upon arriving to the receiving device, the HDMI measures the difference between these signals and uses the information to compensate for the signal loss. This how you get high-quality audio and visual images. The HDMI also has the capability of protecting data from piracy through the high-bandwidth digital protection (HDCP) technique. This technique utilizes the authentication protocol used in protection against piracy.

HDMI offer the best and most convenient audio and video connection in the market today. It is the only way that you can enjoy a 1080p full high definition video in your home. Other reasons why you should invest in quality HDMI cables include the following:

HDMI is an all-digital signal transfer cable. This means that it carries uncompressed, all – digital represented of data that is in transmission between different components. HDMI maintains perfect transference of pictures in different processing stages that exist in complex digital to analog or analog to digital processes.

Secondly, HDMI comes with one cable convenience. It offers same all digital transfer for audio signals with up to eight simultaneous channels of high definition audio.

Thirdly, the growth of HDTV and other related high definition devices has made it a standard cable in most audio and video appliances.

Before purchasing an HDMI cable, you should look for specific aspects to ensure that you have a high-quality cable. These aspects include speed rating, bit depth, in-wall rating, specific feature support, and the materials used in its development. In essence, with these attributes, you can be able to distinguish a high-quality HDMI cable from a low-quality cable. As always, we at FireFold are here to answer any questions you may have about HDMI!