The HDMI debate–Some facts

While I typically write simply for the technophobe, a recent post by Harryitguy, made me feel like I had a couple of things to say about HDMI. Harry and many of his commenters believe that there is no difference between cables when it comes to an HDMI cable. They claim that digital signals arrive at the TV just as they were sent from the source. And there are many complaints about high priced cables. I wanted to be sure that the facts were out there.

Recently I have done in depth research with HDMI, LLC (the HDMI licensing company) and a number of cable manufacturers for my column in Dealerscope magazine to come out in March.

Here are some facts about HDMI cables:
1. Digital may be digital, but 1s and 0s can be corrupted into bit errors
2. Bit errors cause video noise or other picture degradation
3. Bad Cable construction can make that video noise worse when the connectors have cheap solder points or weak solder points
4. Monster cable has a one piece connector that eliminates the bit error problems. Terk makes cables that have “noise traps” like you find on your digital camera cable, to capture any added interferance. And of course, any decent cable doesn’t want interferance to cause bit errors.
5. Really cheap cables can fall out of the connection, or bend pins.
6. Alterations in what material the cable is, and how it is twisted can affect the ability of the cable to transmit the highest quality picture.

Bottom line is, if you are spending a lot of money on a high quality flatscreen or any other high quality component, why would you skimp on cables to insure that quality is transferred and displayed?


2 responses to “The HDMI debate–Some facts

  1. Great explanation, thanks!

  2. Hold on a minute! It’s not really fair to compare over-engineered over-priced “mega cables” to BROKEN cables (EG. bent pins, bad solder joints, et cetera). In the lengths commonly used for an HDMI connection between a settop box and a DTV, any standard intact HDMI cable will work fine.

    That’s the whole point of using a digital connection: The HDMI connection is driven at a very high level by the settop box, and then well-terminated at the TV. (Like a million times stronger than the microvolt levels between a DTV over-the-air antenna and the tuner input.)The bit error rate over that 6 feet of shielded cable is almost unmeasurable with the finest lab equipment, unless you are running some sort of transmitting equipment right next to your TV. Even then, such noise is much more likely to enter through your TV’s power cable than through the HDMI cable. Using thicker conductors, gold-plating the terminals, adding noise filters, etc. will not make any difference.

    If you want to spend some money on equipment where it will make a terrific difference, buy a good antenna with an antenna-mounted preamp.

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