“4k” is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, particularly pertaining to TVs and HDMI cables. Consumers constantly see packaging and marketing saying things like “Supports 4k” or “4k image quality”. If you buy a new TV at a big-box electronics store, employees there may tell you to remember to get a 4k HDMI cable to go with it only to tell you that that cable costs $100. The correct answer to that question is, “No, thank you.” All HDMI cables built to modern standards today support 4k, from cost-effective $3 cables and up. Many general stores will sell them much more expensively simply because most consumers do not know that and will buy them even when they are horrendously overpriced.
This article will cover why a $3 HDMI cable at ShowMeCables is just as good as a $100 one at a big box store by explaining what 4k is and what the legitimate differences are between low-end and high-end HDMI cables.
What is 4k?
Most people know that 4k means a TV, monitor, or other display device will have a clearer, nicer image. While that is true, the explanation goes a bit deeper than that. Electronic images are made using pixels, small colored squares that blend together to display the pictures from the movie, TV show, video game, etc. being displayed onscreen. As more pixels are used, they blend together more smoothly to make clearer images. If a picture with a small number of pixels is enlarged, it becomes blurrier because the pixels are stretched larger.
The end of an RJ45 Ethernet connector (left) vs. an RJ12 phone connector (right)
Ethernet and telephone cables look fairly similar and it is not uncommon to get the two mixed up. The key difference between the two is the size of the plastic connectors on the ends of the cable. Telephones use an RJ11/RJ12 connector whereas Ethernet uses RJ45. RJ11/RJ12 only uses 4-6 pins whereas RJ45 uses 8 pins. As a result, RJ11/RJ12 is physically smaller than RJ45 since it does not need to contain as many pins.
Both Ethernet and telephone cables are made using modular connectors. These are connectors that were designed to be used with registered jack (RJ) twisted-pair cables. The original modular jacks were invented by AT&T in the 1960s and used for some telephones. Over time they caught on and eventually became industry-standard in the 1970s.
MHL stands for Mobile High-Definition Link. It is an industry standard for Android smartphones that can be connected to display devices such as TVs, monitors, and projectors. Devices built with ports that are MHL-ready work a bit differently than the “standard” version of those same ports, enabling extra features and functionality.
How does MHL Work?
Most handheld electronics are built with some sort of USB port. This can be Micro USB 2.0, Micro USB 3.0, or USB-C depending on the device and its age. Most of the time, people use these ports to just recharge their phones/tablets or sometimes to move pictures, videos, and other data between the phone/tablet and a computer. The issue old phones ran into here was that USB ports are designed to transmit data, not audio/video. At the same time, the USB port was the best option for getting photos and videos stored on a phone onto bigger screens.
MHL was the solution developed to circumvent this problem. Created in a joint project by Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Tos
On the back of every TV, there are different ports for various types of cables. Each of these is labeled so users know which cables go where. Every TV today is built with HDMI ports as the current audio/video standard. For the most part, these ports are simply labeled “HDMI”. But if you take a closer look, you may notice one labeled as “HDMI ARC”. This is a special type of HDMI port that comes with a few extra features when connecting a soundbar, receiver, or other audio system to a TV.
What is HDMI ARC?
ARC stands for “Audio Return Channel”. While this is not a new technology (it was introduced in 2009), many consumers are unaware it is an option even if they have all the cables and electronics needed to use it. Utilizing HDMI ARC allows users to only use an HDMI cable for their audio connection instead of an HDMI cable plus a separate audio cable.
Without ARC, an HDMI cable would need to go from the source (a DVD player, video game console, etc.) to a sound system (soundbar, receiver, etc.) and then from the sound system to the TV. But this signal is one-way and stops at the TV, only passing through the sound system, so a
Posted: September 05, 2019Categories: DisplayPort
What is DisplayPort?
DisplayPort (left in the image above) is a 20-pin digital video cable developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). It is one of the most advanced cables on the market today and was specifically designed for use with computer monitors.
What is Mini DisplayPort?
Mini DisplayPort (right in the image above) is a downsized version of DisplayPort that is used on devices too small to fit a standard DisplayPort.
What is Thunderbolt?
Thunderbolt is an off-shoot of Mini DisplayPort developed by Intel & Apple most commonly seen on Apple products. While Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort look the same, Thunderbolt is much more advanced. Mini DisplayPort is not forward compatible with Thunderbolt, but Thunderbolt is backward compatible with Mini Displayport.
What is DisplayPort 1.2?
DisplayPort is the latest and greatest audio/video cable available today. While it does have many similarities with HDMI, DisplayPort is even more powerful. Whereas HDMI was designed as a multi-purpose cable capable of working with any and all electronics, DisplayPort was specifically created with computer monitors in mind. Capable of supporting HD video at even higher resolutions than HDMI, there is no better choice than DisplayPort when cable quality is your primary concern.
The original DisplayPort cable, version 1.0, was developed by VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) and introduced in May 2006. Since then, several newer versions with various improvements have been developed and replaced their older counterparts. Many DisplayPort cables on the market are not marked with a version number, so knowing the age of the cable is the best way to tell how well it performs. These days, users would be unlikely to come across a cable older than version 1.2. This was the first version of DisplayPort to fully outshine HDMI, being capable of supporting higher maximum bandwidth.
Like HDMI, DisplayPort is capable of supporting audio/video instead of being video-only like many of its competitors. Despite these differences, DisplayPort connections can be adapted to other video formats including HDMI, DVI, and VGA. This can be done with an adapter cable or independent adapters can
What is Ethernet?
Ethernet is a network cable used to connect computers, printers, modems, routers, and other electronics to the Internet. Other names for Ethernet include Cat5e cable, Cat6 cable, Cat7 cable, and RJ45 cable.
What does Ethernet Look Like?
How does Ethernet Work?
Electrical signals are sent down the wires inside the Ethernet cable. If the electricity is on, it translates to “1”. If it is off, it translates to “0”. These 1’s and 0’s are read by computers and other machines as binary code.
How Long can an Ethernet Cable be?
The maximum length of a single
Almost every electronic today from simple cell phones to a new 70” TV is made Wi-Fi ready. When setting up a new device, most people will pull up the Wi-Fi menu, connect to their network, and go. While this is usually the obvious choice, it is not always the best one. With most handheld devices it is the only choice, so there is no choice there. But where bigger electronics are concerned, using an Ethernet hardline can provide many advantages over Wi-Fi.
What Makes Wi-Fi Signals Weaker?
Wi-Fi is a popular technology for one key reason: convenience. Being able to connect any device to the Internet while in range of a Wi-Fi signal is a huge deal. Over the last few decades, wireless technology has gone from nothing but pagers to every electronic coming with wireless functionality. Not being limited by the accessibility and distance of a cable was a major game-changer for a multitude of technologies, but that does not mean Wi-Fi’s potential is limitless.
What Does “Coax” Mean?
“Coax” is shorthand for coaxial cable.
What is Coax Cable?
Coax cables send and receive audio/video/data transmissions via electrical signals. They are most commonly used for television and Internet applications within the telecom/datacom industry.
What Does “RG” Stand For?
“RG” stands for Radio Guide, the most common type of coax cable. RG cables were originally developed for military use during WWII.
What Coax Cable is Used for TV?
Televisions typically use RG6 for short runs and RG11 for long runs. RG59 is sometimes used instead of RG6 when extra flexibility is needed. Likewise, RG8 can be used instead of RG11 for extra signal strength.
What Coax Cable is Used for Internet?
The same coax types used for TV cable can be used for the Internet.
VESA mount patterns are the series of holes found on the back of a television or monitor, used to attach them to wall mounts. There are a few other names that can apply to these standards as well. VESA stands for Video Electronics Standards Association. The organization VESA is a technical standards association located in California that focuses on computer and video displays. Most major companies that manufacture monitors or televisions (Dell, Sony, Samsung, etc.) are members of the organization and follow its standards. Items made by these members follow VESA standards and even non-member companies tend to stick to them for the sake of conformity.
Officially, VESA mount patterns were dubbed Flat Display Mounting Interfaces (FDMI) by the VESA organization. As a secondary name, the patterns were also called VESA Mounting Interface Standards (MIS). This second name stuck and was eventually shorthanded to just “VESA mounts”.
How are VESA Mounts Measured?
VESA mount patterns are made from four holes, forming either square or rectangle-shaped. Each hole is one corner of the square/rectangle and holds a screw that secures the mount to a television or monitor. Made to international standards, VESA mount patterns are measured in millimeters. For example, a mount labeled wit