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Cable clutter is a thing of the past thanks to digital technology. Where once you needed multiple cables to deliver audio and video between your TV or monitor and other gadgets, you can now do the same with a single cable: the HDMI cable. Learn all about this cable in our handy buying guide.
HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) cables are used to set up home theatre equipment and connect TVs, monitors and projectors to devices such as laptops, Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, set top boxes and mobile phones.
These cables transmit both video and audio signals, so you no longer need separate cables for sound and visuals, cutting down on clutter.
HDMI ports are usually located on the back or side of your devices. You may have multiple ports, which are clearly labelled for your convenience: HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc, or Input 1, Input 2, etc. If you have more devices than ports, you can buy a stand-alone HDMI switch to add the necessary number of devices.
To connect the TV to your devices, simply run the HDMI cable from your TV’s HDMI input to the device’s HDMI output.
You may notice product descriptions mentioning ‘female’ and ‘male’. The word ‘female’ refers to the HDMI ports, while ‘male’ refers to the connector plugs on the cable.
There are standard and high-speed HDMI cables available.
Supports 720p or 1080i video resolutions and suitable for most home applications. This is ideal for standard TVs and DVDs that do not display higher than 1080i.
Same capabilities as standard HDMI, but also has a dedicated data channel for device networking, allowing you to connect your devices to the internet without needing a separate ethernet cable. This feature only works if both connected devices are HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled.
Accommodates 1080p and higher video resolutions, and for advanced technologies such as 4K and 3D. This is ideal for HDTVs and Blu-ray discs with 1080p resolution or higher.
Same capabilities as high-speed HDMI, but also has a dedicated data channel for device networking, allowing you to connect your devices to the internet without needing a separate ethernet cable. This feature only works if both connected devices are HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled.
Your choice of cable will depend on the HDMI devices you have – they need to be compatible with the features you want.
For instance, if you want 1080p video resolution, both your TV and source device, such as a DVD player or set-top box, must be capable of 1080p displays.
If your TV is capable of 1080p resolution but the source device is only capable of 720p, your TV will display 720p video even if you have a high speed HDMI cable.
Along with regular HDMI cables, you’ll also find mini and micro HDMI cables available. All these cables have 19 pins.
Also known as Type A, regular HDMI cables are used for home theatre equipment and TV/monitor connections. These cables measure 14 x 4.55mm.
These cables, also known as Type C, are used for devices such as DSLR cameras, laptops and standard-sized tablets. They measure 10.42 x 2.42mm.
Also called Type D, these cables are the smallest of all and are used for smaller devices such as smartphones and smaller tablets. They measure 6.4 x 2.8mm.
HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI are all digital connections while VGA is an analog connection.
DisplayPort was originally developed to connect computers to monitors, but is now available on other devices such as laptops, tablets and digital TVs. It’s a newer standard than HDMI, capable of a higher refresh rate and a more stable AV connection. DisplayPort is not as ubiquitous as HDMI, but can be found on Apple’s iMacs and MacBooks as well as Microsoft’s Surface Pro. You can connect HDMI devices to DisplayPort connections using an adapter.
View DisplayPort to HDMI adapters
DVI (Digital Visual Interface) carries video signals only, not audio, unless it’s connected with a DVI to HDMI cable or adapter. DVI is not capable of 4K resolution, and is declining in use. If you have a device with a DVI connection, you can connect it to HDMI connections using an adapter.
View DVI to HDMI adapters
VGA (Visual Graphics Array) is a video-only connection used in older laptops, projectors and displays. It’s rarely seen on TVs now, but is still useful if you have legacy systems or equipment. You can use an adapter to connect HDMI devices with a VGA connector.
View HDMI to VGA adapters