Are all cables created equal?
I ask this simple question since the price of a HDMI cable can range from around $4.00 to $100.00 plus. From a simple visual inspection, most HDMI cables look very similar in that they have a common connector on each end, a specific length of cable in between and in some cases a magnetic loop on each end.
Cables are not all created equal. Generally speaking, cables created using lower grade materials tend to have a shorter lifespan and exhibit lower performance levels.
A HDMI cable is designed to connect two HDMI compatible devices together and transfer the high definition signal between the two devices. The signal is uncompressed therefore a high level of digital information is being transmitted through the cable regardless of the cost price of the digital devices. As with any connection cable, the signal quality will degrade as the cable gets longer and the quality of the wiring used is lower. As the signal degrades between the sending and receiving devices (DVD player and HD TV as an example), the quality of the picture and the audio will degrade significantly.
To ensure that the overall picture and sound quality is maintained, you need to have a transmission cable that can minimize the signal loss. In theory, a cable made with a compatible connector on either end and copper wiring in between will transmit the signal between the two digital devices. This is where the difference between the lower priced cables and the higher priced cables come into the picture. Most lower priced cables are just that. Copper wiring with compatible connectors and in some cases a magnetic loop to minimize external signal interference. Higher priced cables will use various methods to minimize the signal loss and ensure optimum signal retention.
Here is a list of specifics that you should be aware of that helps to maintain the overall signal quality received by the high definition TV.
1: The quality of the copper wiring used internally. Higher quality copper wiring ensures that the signal loss and signal speed degradation is minimized. The amount of copper wiring used. Typically more copper wiring is required to send digital signals over older analog signals.
2: The quality of the outer shielding material used. Higher quality shielding minimizes the wear and tear when the cables are moved. The electronic signal interference from other electronic and mechanical devices are also minimized.
3; The quality of the end connectors used. Gold plated end connectors minimizes the signal loss between the devices and the cable.
4: Signal amplifiers built into the connectors. This ensures that the signal sent between the devices are of optimal strength to travel through the wiring and reach the intended target at the peak signal level.
An HDMI cable with “active technology” taps into the devices power source available via the HDMI connection. By accessing the available 5 volt /5 mA power, any cable that uses the RedMere “active technology” chip has the ability to use the power to equalize the signal. By doing this, the signal transfered through the cable can be boosted to reduce the amount of copper wiring required and produce the optimum level of signal output.
This means the copper wiring and shielding material can be reduced by 70 %. The HD video cable, typically very thick and cumbersome can now be made ultra-thin, portable and very flexible. The RedMere active technology chip used in a HDMI cable will allow you to have a clear high definition image and great audio output.
Companies that manufacture cables using the RedMere active technology include:
Prices for these cables do vary but are typically in the $80.00 – $100.00 USD price range. I have only tried the test cable manufactured by RedMere and not the various cables that use the RedMere chip. This being said, any cable using the RedMere chip under the redmere specific guidelines should produce a high quality HDMI cable. The final choice of which cable to purchase would depend on the price and convenience to you.
There are other factors that determine your overall choice of cable based on distance between the source and receiving device, if the cable is to be exposed or installed within the wall, and if the cable will be used only for temporary connection like via a portable device and TV or permanently between a component DVD player and TV. Overall, any cable suited for your specific requirements that utilize the RedMere active technology should provide you with a quality video and audio signal.
I really like the RedMere active technology based HDMI cable since I tend to disconnect and connect other devices like my iPod Touch and video camera. The soft and thin cable makes it easier to disconnect and attach to other devices that will be connected for only a short period of time.
When purchasing any cable, try and get the retailer to demo the actual cable for you based on your setup requirements. This way you minimize the headaches when you get home. One last point to note: The HDMI cable should be marked indicating which end plugs into the TV and which end plugs into the sending device. Connecting the devices incorrectly will certainly produce poor results. Don’t let active words used in the packaging like EXTREME, HIGHEND, and PREMIUM convince you that the cable is better quality. Always check the specifications and ask the salesperson questions to ensure you are getting what you paid for and actually need.
- Very flexible and lightweight.
- Readily available from a number of popular manufacturers.
- Clearly marked and simple to connect.
- Can get pricey when dealing with longer cable lengths.
I would highly recommend using an active technology cable that uses the RedMere chip. The extra money invested in the high quality connection cable will ensure that you maximize your return on your money invested in the highend DVD player and HD TV.
Addendum: Cables are available in the $20 – $40 USD price range.