HDMI cable naming confusion

HDMI cabling is already an area in which confusion drives people to spend more than they need to. In many ways HDMI has revolutionized the way we connect devices. By unifying video and audio into a single cable manufacturers have been able to make their products easier to setup than ever before. But HDMI was not the first widely used connection method that combined audio and video to same cable, in analogue era SCART connector was widely used in Europe for Audio+Video connections.

Until recently there hasn’t actually been much difference in HDMI cables. But things are about to get confusing with the introduction of HDMI 1.4. But those selling cables won’t be able to use HDMI 1.4 or HDMI 1.3 to delineate between different products. Instead cables that support version 1.4 of the HDMI standard will have to use one of five different labels. The new labels?






The specifics are outlined in a 38 page document on the HDMI website. Standard cables are tested to support video up to 720p/1080i. High Speed cables on the other hand are tested to 1080p resolution.

Not only do the regulations cover the actual naming of cables, they also quite specifically state what can and can’t be used to describe supported features. For example, High Speed HDMI cables support resolutions up to cinema-quality, known as 4K (4K x 2K pixels). Because HDMI is a proprietary technology that can only be used under license, these terms are going to become more and more common.

One of the primary benefits of HDMI was the reduction in cable complexity, but this new system just makes things confusing. Changing things from how they’ve been done for years will likely more than anything just confuse people. Ultimately we will all have to learn to live with this overtly complex naming scheme unless they plan to change it sometimes in the future or some other technology replaces HDMI. At HDMI translation between version numbering and marketing speak has been earlier hard or almost impossible, and now do not seem to become any easier.

Maybe the plan is to confuse customers so the only guidance they have is the price. “Well, it’s more expensive so it has to be better!” Once you get consumers thinking that, they’re easy pickings. HDMI cable sellers have used this strategy actively. Apparently is a difference between some HDMI cables but there is no point to pay very high price for a special cable.

Usually there are tree price points: The lowest is for the layman. The highest is for the amateurs (understands that the cheapest device doesn’t exactly tend to be the best quality). The middle price point is for the professional (knows what does the job).

Marrying audio and video to one cable is much like getting an all-in-one desktop. If you want to upgrade a single component, you have to many times upgrade everything. People are already being bit in the butt by what HDMI does or doesn’t support on a particular piece of gear.


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    MonoPrice RedMere Active HDMI Cables Preview

    In the past the best way to combat signal loss in long HDMI cable runs was to use large gauge cable. These cables are unwieldy and result in a lot of problems due to insufficient strain relief and the inability they have to take corners or bend away from the ever-increasingly thin electronics they connect.

    Now, thanks to RedMere’s microchip active-HDMI technology the cable now operates off the power supplied by the sink device to provide more signal strength amplification than traditional in-line amplifiers.

    The end result is a line of thinner HDMI cables that are capable of producing full bandwidth and data throughput over greater distances – at least until HDMI Licensing decides to arbitrarily increase the data rates again and force everyone to go back to the drawing board.

    RedMere Active HDMI Technology Poised to Change Cabling

    Well, almost any cable will work over a 2 meter or less distance, but beyond that things start to get dicey. That’s where active HDMI cables come into play.

    The cables are downright thin – and I’m talking super-thin, with wires that measure just 2.5mm in thickness. The cables contain Redmere’s MEA1689 Integrated Chipset that allows sustains speeds of 3.4Gbps per channel (10.2 Gbps total). The MEA1689 is a compact module which fits inside the sink-side (display-side) casing of an active HDMI cable assembly. The cable is actually directional, so you have to pay attention to the markings to make sure the electronics are on the display/sink side.

    What’s the Matter with HDMI?
    How the designers of the HDMI standard screwed up, and what’s to be done about it.

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