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Which HDMI Cable Do I Need?

Which HDMI Cable Do I Need?
Issue Time:2019-06-17

Which HDMI Cable Do I Need?
All HDMI connectors transmit the same information, and they do it equally well.

The only essential difference is which size connector you need: standard (A), mini (C), or micro (D). Virtually all full-sized home electronics (televisions, audio systems, etc., as well as Raspberry Pi modules) utilize standard connectors. Portable electronics like tablets, DSLR cameras, and Raspberry Pi Zero use mini connectors, while micro connectors are limited almost exclusively to small portables (cell phones with an HDMI output, for instance).

When it comes to the cable itself, you either need 1080p+ (high-speed) or something lower standard. Lastly, decide whether you want to share an internet connection and networking capabilities (with Ethernet) or not (without).

HDMI Limitations
HDMI reduces cable clutter and makes high-definition connections simple, but it isn’t perfect. HDMI’s greatest limitation is its twisted-pair construction, which makes it prone to performance problems over long distances. The longer the cable run involved, the greater the signal degradation, and there’s even the possibility of time differentials in the main data signals (either between pairs or between members of the same pair). You can resolve this by using HDMI extenders, (for a category 2 HDMI cable, install extenders every 10m) but this complication may prove to be a significant drawback in large-scale applications.

HDMI’s other weakness is that it is not well suited to driving multiple devices simultaneously. In the case of video displays, HDMI can’t send multiple signals to separate devices (like DisplayPort). For audio, HDMI can’t send multi-channel surround and stereo signals simultaneously, so you will run into problems in multi-room setups with differing equipment in each room.

A Few Conclusions
HDMI is a great protocol for tidying up simple AV systems. It can, however, run into problems in large-scale setups due to the distances involved and its inability to drive multiple environments simultaneously.

In complicated systems, you’re better suited using a coaxial cable for longer runs. DisplayPort is the practical choice for driving multiple displays. Finally, very high-quality, precision-manufactured analog audio gear will still be the best option in many commercial audio setups, especially for live sound.