“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.
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
What Does HDMI Stand For?
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface.
What is HDMI?
HDMI was developed as a new audio/video cable standard when the industry started manufacturing electronics with digital technology, replacing older analog machines. A coalition of major electronics manufacturers worked together to develop HDMI technology. HDMI 1.0 was first introduced to the open market in 2002.
Does HDMI Support 4k?
The current standard version of HDMI, HDMI 2.0, fully supports 4k video. This version of HDMI was released in September 2013. HDMI 1.4 cables, the standard from 2009 to fall 2013, have limited 4k support. Older HDMI cables do not support 4k.
Does HDMI Carry Audio?
Yes, HDMI is an audio/video cable. An extractor can be used to separate the audio & video signals into separate lines.
How to Connect an HDMI Cord?
Simply plug one end of the HDMI cable into the audio/video source and the other to the audio/video display. Make sure the display is on the correct HDMI input and the sound/images should display automatically.
How Much Does an HDMI Cord Cost?
HDMI is the most common audio/video cable used today. Ushered in as the new standard for the digital age, HDMI was created in a joint project by numerous electronics manufacturers who wanted to set the stage as the switch from analog to digital technology was made. The development of HDMI cables began in 2002 and was completed the following year. Each following year saw more and more HDMI-ready products enter the market. Electronics equipped with HDMI ports became readily available across the world in the coming decade, with an estimated 3 billion HDMI-ready devices made by more than 1,300 companies as of HDMI’s 10-year anniversary in 2013.
While HDMI has been around for some time now, the technology has continued to evolve since its invention. The current standard for HDMI is version 2.0, which was introduced in 2013. This was the first version of HDMI fully capable of supporting 4k signals, which have become increasingly popular for televisions, computer monitors, and projectors. While newer versions of HDMI do exist, they exceed the specs most televisions and other electronics are currently capable of supporting. Since version 2.0 cables are more cost-effective to produce, manufacturers have stuck with them as the standard for the time being. Version 2.0 will eventually become outdated but for the time being, they are considered more than adequate.
While HDMI is certainly the most popular audio/video cable for electronics, it is not the only choice available. DisplayPort is HDMI’s main competitor, also being a digital audio/video cable. While DisplayPort is a little bit better than HDMI, it was designed specifically for use with computer monitors. It is very rare to see DisplayPort on other electronics like televisions or projectors. DVI is an older video-only cable that can be digital or analog, depending on the type of DVI, but cannot perform as well as HDMI. VGA is even older and analog-only, making it the weakest video cable still in use today.
Types of HDMI Cables
Any modern business is going to be networked with Internet connections. Whether a business is in a small home office with a single computer and printer or an enormous building with hundreds of machines, a nervous system of cables and wiring will be essential to keep things running smoothly. When cables go missing or start to fail, losses in both productivity and profitability are sure to follow. Most homes have a drawer filled with spare cables and there is no reason that an office should not do the same thing, albeit with better organization than a junk drawer.
Every electronic device connected to the Internet uses Ethernet. Even if a device uses WiFi, the equipment generating that WiFi signal is connected via Ethernet. There are different types of Ethernet cable on the market. Newer types (called categories) of Ethernet are faster than older versions, but some are so fast that they can be overkill. Exactly how fast an Ethernet cable should be will depend on how much data is being used. No matter where it is located, an Ethernet cable going out is always sure to cause Internet outages. Keeping at least a few spares around is always a good idea.
Fiber Optic vs. Traditional (Copper) HDMI
Fiber optic HDMI cables are a new, top-of-the-line option for connecting HDMI devices. Using fiber optics technology instead of traditional copper, fiber optic HDMI goes above and beyond the limitations of standard HDMI cables.
Conventional HDMI is made using copper, with multiple smaller copper lines inside the main cable. The main drawback of conventional HDMI is the distance limit. Plain old HDMI caps out at a maximum limit of 65 feet, although depending on the equipment being used, the quality of the cables, and similar factors, issues can start to arise at distances as short as 50 feet.
Up until now, the only workaround to this would be using an extender balun. While baluns are certainly a fine solution, they are more cumbersome than a single HDMI cable and require a bit more work to set up. They can also have issues with maintaining 4k quality, especially over longer distances. Fiber optic HDMI not only lacks those issues but works even better than a standalone copper HDMI cable at peak performance.
Video games are one of the most popular past times today, with the video game industry making more money each year than movies and music combined. Avid gamers used to hang onto their old consoles, but that has become less common over the years due to games being re-released and digital downloads giving gamers easy access to their old favorites.
Modern televisions tend to be equipped with an HDMI port and not much else while some TVs still have the older RCA ports. When using a TV with older types of connections, you can typically use a converter to get the console hooked up. Most connections today are streamlined between different pieces of technology, but we are not 100% there yet. Our article here will tell you exactly what cords go with the game console you have.
Gaming consoles have become very streamlined in the last 20 years or so, with the major players today being Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. Many other companies have tried to get in on the market as recently as 10 years ago, but most have flopped as the years have gone by. For the sake of this article, we will be focusing on the three industry giants that have consoles on the market today.
PlayStation 4 (Sony)
Like any piece of hardware out there, cables can suffer from wear-and-tear as time marches on. Even if cables keep running perfectly as the years go by, they will get to the point of being outdated. Some cables are also more prone to needing replacement than others. Knowing when to replace a cable can make electronics run better, save on your electric bill, and even prevent potential safety issues. But what exactly you need to look for when thinking about replacing something is going to depend on which type of cable we are talking about.
Ethernet – Now or the near-future
Ethernet cables have been through a lot of changes over the years. At the moment, the standard version is Cat5e cable. If the writing on the outside of the cable says Cat5 (or a lower number), it is time to be replaced. Internet service providers today work on the assumption that you are using at least Cat5e cable, as do most websites and other online services.
If you need to upgrade, it is worth taking Cat6 cable into consideration. This is the next step up for Ethernet and will be the new standard once Cat5e is inevitably phased out. Cat6 can support data speeds up to ten times faster than Cat5e. While this is overkill for at-home use right now, upgrading to Cat6 will ensure you do not have to upgrade again for a very long time.
Cable switches are used to connect multiple signal inputs (computers, DVD players, video game consoles, etc.) to a single output (televisions, computer monitors, etc.). Switches all work on the same general principle and most are purely mechanical. A switch only goes from multiple inputs to one output; if you need to go from one input to multiple outputs, you will need a splitter instead.
Switches are used when you have a screen, such as a TV or computer monitor, that does not have enough ports. For example, say you have a TV with one HDMI port but you want to connect a DVD player, a laptop, and a video game console. One option would be to constantly reach behind the TV and switch the cables, but that gets old fast. The simpler solution would be using a switch that connects all three devices to the TV and lets you change between them at the push of a button.
Most switches are mechanical and do not require a power cable to work. The inside of a switch works similar to switching the rails on train tracks. Say you have a 2-way switch, so the signal can come in from Input A or Input B. If the switch is set to Input A and you press the button to change it to Input B, parts inside the switch move from A to B to change the connection. This is why switches can only use one input at a time. If a switch was built to use multiple signals at once, the signals would interfere with each other and none of them would work.