Friday, January 27, 2012

AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters) - Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return

This cable will work well with anything that supports HDMI 1.3x but it's built to comply with the higher HDMI 1.4 standard. You may consider this product if you have TWO devices that support HDMI 1.4 such as TVs and Blu-ray players. For these, the cable will carry through HD images and Ethernet data therefore eliminating the need for one dedicated Ethernet cable and one Ethernet port. You may also consider this cable if you currently need an extra HDMI 1.3 cable but you are planning to to replace your existing equipment with some HDMI 1.4 ready hardware in the near future. 

Unless either of the above is true, you will not need this cable and, given that the HDMI 1.4 standards aren't set in stone yet - the HDMI 1.4a was released recently - you may be better off waiting for the dust to settle if you don't need it today. Keep in mind that BOTH connected devices need to support the HDMI 1.4 standard for this cable to make a difference and that it is NOT possible to upgrade any existing equipment (TV, Blu-ray player) to support HDMI 1.4. Also, I would not pay a premium for the 'braided' feature. Other than 'cosmetics', the cable being braided does not add value to it. If the cable is going to spend its lifetime of service at the back of my entertainment center, never to be seen by anyone but me, I would not care about this and I would not pay extra for it. 


On my equipment, this worked as well as any older HDMI 1.3x cable. It replaced an existing 'cheap' wire at the back of my entertainment center and, nothing unexpected happened. The picture on my TV was as beautiful as before. The 3-meter length is a little bit too much for what I need but, since this is a certified 'high speed' wire, I am not worried. 

Briefly, this cable: 

- Behaves as a HDMI 1.3x 'high speed' or 'category 2' cable. 
- As a 'high speed' HDMI 1.4 cable, it supports video resolutions of at least 1080p and can go as high as 4K. 
- The 'data channel' (Ethernet support) works only with HDMI 1.4 ready equipment. 
- The 'audio return channel' is another feature supported by HDMI 1.4 ready equipment only. It will allow for audio to be sent 'back' from, let's say a TV to the HDMI 1.4 compliant receiver, therefore eliminating the need for a dedicated audio cable. 
- It should support all the HDMI 1.4 extra color palettes because those are implemented by the HDMI 1.4 compliant connected equipment. 
- It being braided does not improve or degrade the quality of the signal because all certified 'high speed' cables should be able to deliver good picture and sound or they would not be certified. 

A 4-star rating should be fair for this cable because, while it is fully HDMI 1.4/1.3x I feel that the braided feature is only a gimmick that that only adds to the price without adding much if any value. 



What follows is the byproduct of me attempting to clarify 'HDMI 1.4' for myself and understanding this specific product's features. I thought I'd share. 

WHAT'S IN A NAME? (understanding this cable's features) 

- HDMI 1.4 is a new HDMI standard adopted in 2009, backward compatible with HDMI 1.3. This cable should work with your existing equipment. 
- HIGH SPEED indicates that this cable supports resolutions of 1080p or higher and 3D video (unlike the HDMI 1.4 STANDARD cables which, believe it or not, are limited to 720p/1080i - why? nobody knows). 
- ETHERNET means that this cable supports a full-duplex 100 Mb/sec Ethernet connection - if you have 2 HDMI 1.4 ready devices and they both need an network connection, this cable will carry through the Ethernet datastream to the second device, therefore saving you the need for one extra Ethernet cable. 
- Audio Return Channel would save you the need of a dedicated audio cable between 2 HDMI 1.4 compliant devices. 
- This cable supports the full set of 3D features found in the new TVs. 


HDMI 1.4 allows for the following new features: 

- Ethernet Channel - allows for the 2 connected devices to communicate with each other and share one network connection. 
- Audio Return Channel - eliminates the need of a second cable if you want to send audio from your TV back to your receiver. 
- 3D - It's supported by HDMI 1.3x but HDMI 1.4a specifically supports all the currently agreed-upon industry standards 
- 4K resolution - good to have it but there is nothing on today's market that would take advantage of this 
- Expanded support for new color spaces - by supporting sYCC601, AdobeRGB, and AdobeYCC601 it better aligns your display with the color spaces supported by digital cameras. 
- Type D connector - the 'Micro' connector is to be used by small, portable devices with supported resolutions of up to 1080p. 

The HDMI Consortium defines 4 broad types of HDMI 1.4 cables: 

* Standard HDMI Cable 
* High Speed HDMI Cable 
* Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet 
* High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet 

Of the above, only the 'High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet' makes sense and it's likely to emerge as the common HDMI 1.4 cable. 

Standard cables are limited to lower-resolution displays up to (approx. 720p or 1080i). High Speed cables support higher-resolution display (e.g. 1080p). They can deliver all video content currently defined for the HDMI standard (i.e. more than two 1080p/60 video streams, including 3D). HDMI cables with Ethernet are capable of sending 100/mbps over the HDMI Ethernet Channel. Since it is not likely that many HDMI 1.4 'standard' cables will be made or sold, I suspect that the crippled 'standard' type exists only to allow for calling the cables that support 1080p 'high speed' which sounds good and high-end. 
Get it on now!

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