High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable is a proprietary video or audio interface that transmits compressed or uncompressed video and audio from an HDMI compliant source device to a compatible projector or computer monitor. HDMI is not just a cable. Instead, it is a technology standard designed to transmit high-definition video and audio signals.
A single HDMI cable can deliver a pure, uncompressed digital signal with clear images and multiple channel audio. And because it can transmit both video and audio signals, you will only need one cable to use for the entire setup. This way you will cut down some of the cord clutter bundled behind your entertainment cabinet.
To learn more about HDMI cables, let’s get started on their uses, types, and how to test HDMI cable is working or not. Read on to find out.
Uses of HDMI cable
Before using an HDMI cable, you need to have devices that have HDMI inputs and outputs. This is the interface or port that connects devices using an HDMI cable. HDMI cables come in different forms and colours, their input and output look exactly the same, but the bottom line is that they are used for the same purpose – transfer audio and video signals from a source device such as a laptop to a compatible device such as a TV or projector.
The most common HDMI connector is the A-type cable that is 13.9 mm by 4.45 mm and has 19 pins. It quite an indispensable item at the household level as it is used to connect devices such as:
- Smart TVs.
- DVD players.
- Set-top-boxes (STBs)
Beyond that, you can do the following with an HDMI cable:
- Connect desktop to another monitor
This is a popular way to help you multitask. Whereas most people are fine working with a single monitor at their desk, there are other categories of users who need a second or even a third monitor.
Users such as video editors, artists and software developers find it hard to work with one monitor. A second monitor improves and you wouldn’t have to minimize windows or maximize windows on the same monitor. Thus, a second or third window enhances efficiency.
- Connecting a streaming box to the TV
Today, streaming boxes have replaced the old SBT boxes. Internet speed has grown, and so has the online video content. as a result, more people are starting to subscribe to online streaming services like Netflix, Apple, Plex, among others.
All these services can be accessed through streaming boxes such as Apple TV, Comcast, Mi Box, among others. To connect all these boxes to your TV, you have to use HDMI cables. By doing so, these cables supercharge your TV with the capabilities to stream online services.
Types of HDMI cables
HDMI interface allows ports to send high definition/resolution digital video, theatre quality sound and device commands via connectors using a single cable. There are different types of HDMI cables, and each one is designed to support a specific video resolution or features within the HDMI specs.
Bottom line, HDMI connectors are available in three main market sizes, namely:
Similar to ports, there are different types of HDMI cables available. All cables indicate whether it is Premium High Speed, High Speed or Standard. The following is a summary of HDMI cable types, their resolution and the bandwidth.
- Standard category 1 – 1080i or 720p, 4.95 Gb/s.
- Standard with Ethernet – 1080i or 720p, with a dedicated HDMI channel, 4.95 Gb/s.
- High speed category 2 – 1080i, 10.2 Gb/s.
- High speed with ethernet – 1080i, plus a dedicated HDMI ethernet channel, 10.2 Gb/s.
- Premium high speed – 4K @ 60 Hz, 18 Gb/s.
- Ultra-high-speed – 8K and 4K @ 120 Hz and 60 Hz respectively, 48 Gb/s.
HDMI connectors and Ports
The most commonly used HDMI connectors today are Type A (the standard), Type C (the mini), and Type D (the micro). The HDMI type B (dual-link) was designed for high-resolution display but wasn’t released for household electronics. The HDMI Type E, on the other hand, was developed specifically for automotive and industrial apps.
- HDMI Type A
The standard HDMI Type A is the most commonly used cable among the five connector types. The plug’s (male) connectors have the outer dimensions of 13.9 mm by 4.45 mm, while the receptacle (female) connector has the inside dimensions of 14 mm by 4.55 mm.
Launched as the original standard, this connector has been the mainstay of all the HDMI standard since its development. It is a household cable that many AV equipment users are familiar with. The AV equipment is found on several devices such as DVD players, satellite boxes, recorders, TVs, among others.
- HDMI type C
This is the Mini connector that is smaller than the Type A plug. It measures 10.42 mm by 2.42 mm. however, it still has the same 19-pin configuration that is designed for all portable devices. Additionally, it supports all the features of the full-sized Type-A cable, with the exception of it being smaller and in a more compact form. And due to its smaller size, it is typically used on portable devices such as DSLR tablets and camera devices.
- HDMI type D
This is the smallest HDMI connector type. And it is about half the width of the connector type C. Nonetheless, its functionality remains similar to its large siblings. The micro HDMI connectors are commonly used on small and portable devices such as smartphones. Overall, the HDMI connectors are low voltage cables that you can safely install inside a wall.
Features of the HDMI standard cables
- It was the initial release of the HDMI standard in 2002.
- Supports audio and video interface for the transfer over signal cables.
- Supports a data transfer speed of up to 4.95 Gb/S.
- Has a resolution of 1080p and at 60 frames per second.
- Supports the playback of the standard Blu-Ray video and audio.
- Supports DVD audio.
- Supports YCB colour space.
- It supports low voltage sources like PC video cards.
- Supports consumer electronic control.
- Is compatible with HDMI Type A connectors for PC applications.
- Has enhanced colour depth per channel.
- Is compatible with YCC colour space support.
- The increased bandwidth of up to 10.2 Gb/s.
- Supports HDMI mini connectors for all portable devices such as camcorders.
- Has support for the HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC).
- Supports high resolution for 3840 by 2160 at 24 Hz.
- Supports for Audio Return Channel (ARC).
- Its HDMI micro connector type D can be used with phones.
- Has an enhanced bandwidth of up to 18 Gb/s.
- Supports for 4K at 60 Hz.
- Has an 8b/10b signal encoder.
- Can support up to 32 channels.
- Has support for ultra-wide 21:9 cinema aspect ratios.
- Supports bandwidth of up to 48 Gb/s.
- Has a resolution of up to 10k and at 120 frames per second.
- Has a dynamic HDR.
- supports display stream compression (DSC).
- Supports enhanced audio return channel (ARC).
How do you test whether an HDMI cable is working or not?
Audio or video installation equipment can be frustrating at times, and especially at the best of times. Firstly, you have to understand the features and functionality of all your installed components. Secondly, you will have to double-check to ensure that all the components from the TV, set-box and soundbar are compatible. This is the only way to ensure that everything works when you eventually wire it up.
But that is not always the case. You can go to this extend and still find out that nothing works. And the biggest headache is to start troubleshooting without anything to point a finger at. If, for instance, you are getting any signal from the HDMI cable, you will need to troubleshoot first. either way, if you are frustrated that your HDMI cable didn’t work, we have compiled a list of methods to test its functionality.
1. Testing HDMI cable with a multimeter
Testing your cable using a multimeter involves two stages, namely;
- Resistance test – the readout should stay between 1 to 3 ohms for a working cable. However, if the cable shows a much higher reading, then try to ensure all the conductors make optimal contact with the plug terminals. And if the reading remains higher than 3 ohms, the cable is likely to have a problem.
- Capacitance test – you will use a capacitance meter to estimate the measurement. A proper HDMI cable should measure at most 100 pF per meter. On the other hand, if the reading is higher, there is a likelihood the cable has a problem.
2. A/V Receiver Test
All A/V receivers have both HDMI inputs and outputs. This means that you can take measurements in both directions of the A/V ports if one way isn’t working. An audio analyzer can generate HDMI test signals, both for audio and video content.
All you have to do is feed the signal via the HDMI cable. The signals will be processed in the A/V receiver and then directed to the outputs. If the HDMI cable is in good working condition, then the signals would be measured using the analog format via the speakers or amplifiers.
This test involves connecting your receiver inputs via the HDMI cable. And that could include your DVD or Blu-Ray player, game console, TV, and more.
Step 1: Connect the HDMI cable on both units (one end to the TV and the other to the receiver). In this case, all images from all the devices connected to your receiver display on TV.
Step 2: Use the receiver to switch between inputs, seeing that now all your devices are routed through it.
Now that all devices have been connected via HDMI, all the sound should go through the speakers of the receiver. If the connection is wired up appropriately, the configuration should be automatic. If there is no sound signal through your speakers, then your cable is faulty.
3. LED illumination test
Step 1: Connect your HDMI cable on both ends of the master and remote units.
Step 2: Switch on your desired testing mode.
When an HDMI cable connection from both ends of your units is detected, the LEDs will illuminate (although for each connection type, different pins would illuminate).
If after the connection all LEDs on the master and Remote units illuminate, then the cable is properly wired, faultless, and ready to ready to install. This procedure is designed to test HDMI cable lengths of up to 164 feet (equivalent to 50 meters).
Frequently Asked Questions on HDMI Cable issues
1. Does HDMI accommodate long cable lengths?
The HDMI technology is designed to use standard copper cable construction for long lengths. The HDMI compliance testing goes up to a length of 10 meters.
2. If the HDMI ports on an HDTV aren’t working and the TV sends a message searching for a signal, what is the way to fix it?
In such a scenario, the TV could be having a faulty mainboard. And if that is the case, you could proceed to make repairs. On the other hand, you could go the route of using the component inputs instead of the HDMI to bypass the problem by ascertaining whether the TV mainboard is faulty.
3. Which 3D video formats are contained in the HDMI 1.4?
HDMI specs comprise information on a wide range of 3D display formats at up to 1080 resolution. the formats include; field alt, frame alt, line alt, side-by-side half etc.
4. What types of products will support the use of the HDMI Micro connector?
Portable media players, mobile phones, digital cameras etc.
The Bottom Line
High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a proprietary video or audio interface that transmits compressed or uncompressed video and audio from an HDMI compliant source device to a compatible projector or computer monitor. The most common HDMI connector is the A-type cable that is 13.9 mm by 4.45 mm and has 19 pins. It quite an indispensable item at the household level as it is used to connect devices such as HDTVs, Smart TVs, Blu-Ray, among others.