HDMI is probably one of, if not the most popular type of video/audio connection available today. This is because HDMI can transmit video, audio, data and 3D signals on one cable only. Even though HDMI is so common in our homes and offices, many people still don't really know how to choose between different types of cables or versions of HDMI. For example, do you know the difference between HDMI 1.4 and 2.0? Do you know what a Premium Certified HDMI cable is? If you're curious to find out, keep reading this article. After that, you will know everything you need to know to buy your HDMI cable.
The most important thing to understand when we talk about HDMI versions is that a cable, in itself, does not have an HDMI version, but the HDMI connections in your gear do. A cable is just a cable, but the HDMI connectors on those cables can be one version or another.
Essentially, the difference between different HDMI versions is the maximum bandwidth that each cable connection can support. Today, the most current versions of HDMI are 1.4, 2.0 and 2.1. You will find below an overview of the major differences between the different versions of HDMI. Pay particular attention to the difference in bandwidth that each version can support.
We haven't talked about HDR (High Dynamic Range) yet, but basically HDR is a recent video technology which significantly expands the range of color and contrast in an image or video. Think of contrast and color as two scales, going from one color end to the other. What HDR does is increase the number of possible colors on each of those two scales, so that contrast and color can be expressed with more detail or "nuances".
Don't worry too much about Hz and 4:4:4. In other words, the Hz number refers to how many times per seconds a display refreshes its image. 4:4:4 means that the signal is uncompressed, that no color detail was removed from the image or video when it is transmitted. 4K refers to a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and 8K is 7,680 × 4,320. 4K and 8K are simply terms used to describe resolutions four times and eight times the resolution of an HD TV, respectively.
Types of HDMI cables
The HDMI website offers up to eight different types of cables. Why? Each cable is tested to handle certain resolutions and features of HDMI. For a complete list of HDMI cables, you can refer to HDMI's official website. However, for sake of clarity, we decided to talk only about the most common types of cables. Those we have not listed below are either cables built especially for the automotive industry or cables with Ethernet functionality.
So, how do you choose which HDMI cable is right for you? It depends really on the resolution of your video. Only buy Ultra High Speed HDMI cables if your display supports an 8K60 and you actually find a video with that resolution. Premium High Speed cables are only useful if you can deliver 4K60. Most of video content today is still transmitted at refresh rates lower than 30Hz, meaning that for most 4K video, a high speed HDMI cable will be enough.
High Speed and Standard HDMI cables differ in the video modes which they support. Standard HDMI cables are tested to handle 1080i but not 1080p. 1080i (interlaced) and 1080p (progressive) are two different modes used in video to draw an image on a screen. Interlaced means that only half of the lines of a video frame are drawn at a time, whereas in progressive scan mode all the lines of a frame are drawn in a sequence. To learn more about the difference between the two, see this article.
|Ultra High Speed
|Cables are certified and tested to support HDMI 2.1 features including uncompressed 8K60 and 4K120.
|Premium High Speed
|Cables are certified and tested to ensure the full 18 Gbit/s bandwidth from the HDMI 2.0 specification, which means your cable will support resolutions up to 4K60 and HDR.
|Tested to handle 1080p and 4K30 video resolutions.
|Tested to handle 1080i and 720p video resolutions.