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HDMI: Eliminating the ugly mess of cables

By The Vann’s Editorial Team
Last revised October 12th, 2009

HDMI is the only interface in consumer electronics that can carry both uncompressed high-definition (HD) video in all HD formats including 720p, 1080I and even 1080p and carry uncompressed multi-channel audio . Since HDMI carries all channels on video and audio, there is only one cable to plug into any HDMI-enabled source and display device. No more complicated cable set-up when installing your home theater system, and no more ugly cable mess behind your components. Content comes in a variety of sizes, resolutions and formats. HDMI systems will automatically configure to display the content in the most effective format.

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI can provide a connection between any audio/video source, such as a set-top box, DVD player, or A/V receiver and an audio and/or video monitor, such as a digital television (DTV), over a single cable.

HDMI supports standard, enhanced, or high-definition video, plus multi-channel digital audio on a single cable. It transmits all ATSC HDTV standards and supports 8-channel digital audio, with bandwidth to spare to accommodate future enhancements and requirements. Simply put — rather than hooking-up two or more cables from one component to another, you can hook-up a single HDMI cable and it’ll do all the work those other cables would have.

Okay, so it’s one cable that does audio and video. The real question is: is it any better than those other cables? The answer is yes. HDMI transfers uncompressed digital audio and video for the highest, crispest image quality. Most other video cables just can’t match HDMI. Plus, HDTV uses less than 1/2 of HDMI’s available 5 Gbps bandwidth. With capacity to spare, HDMI can incorporate new technology advancements and capabilities long into the foreseeable future. Hold on a second here, let’s talk more about 5 Gbps of bandwidth. What does that mean? You might have seen or heard the term Gbps when someone referred to a high-speed internet connection. Some Internet providers are now offer 1 Gbps connections for home internet use. A lot of high-speed home internet connections are 512 Mbps (1/2 the speed of 1 Gbps) or even 256 Mbps (1/4 the speed of 1 Gbps). All those connections move a lot of information. So now you can start to see just how much data a single HDMI cable can transfer.

HDMI ensures an all-digital rendering of video without the losses associated with analog interfaces and their unnecessary digital-to-analog conversions. HDMI provides the quality and functionality of a digital interface while also supporting uncompressed video formats in a simple, cost-effective manner. HDMI supports multiple audio formats, from standard stereo to multi-channel surround-sound. HDMI combines video and multi-channel audio into a single cable, eliminating the cost, complexity, and confusion of multiple cables currently used in A/V systems. You just can’t run audio signals on Component Video or S-Video cables. Plus often you need multiple audio cables to transfer sound, like a set of RCA interconnects and a Digital Audio Cable. HDMI can do either. Finally, HDMI is capable of transmitting almost any current audio or video format that’s available to consumers — compatibility with SACD was released in August of 2005. Seems like that extra bandwidth is already coming in handy.

So now we know that HDMI supports standard, enhanced, or high-definition video, plus multi-channel digital audio on a single cable. It transmits all ATSC HDTV standards and supports 8-channel digital audio, and with 5 Gbps of bandwidth, HDMI can accommodate future enhancements and requirements. Also because HDMI was designed specifically for consumer electronics applications, it offers an array of additional consumer enhancements. As digital content can manifest itself in a variety of sizes, resolutions and formats, HDMI-enabled systems will automatically configure to display content in the most effective format. In addition, HDMI enables a single remote point and click, allowing manufacturers to deliver home theater systems that automatically configure from a single command from a remote control — turning on or off the components necessary to view a DVD, listen to a CD, or watch cable or satellite TV. In short, the use of HDMI to connect all of your high-definition devices, displays and components will enable you to maximize your home theater system and experience digital content the way it was intended.

Some of you might know a bit about DVI or Digital Visual Interface. DVI is a High Definition Video cable that only transmits video. While we won’t go into a lot of detail here about DVI, we will tell you that HDMI is fully backward-compatible with DVI. You’ll need some adapters of course but they do exist. HDMI DTVs will display video received from existing DVI-equipped products, and DVI-equipped TVs will display video from HDMI sources.

HDMI can make your cabling headaches go away and deliver your High Definition content and Multi-Channel Audio with ease. So if you’re looking at new Receivers, DVD Players, HDTVs, or any other component that can use HDMI — remember, HDMI is one cable that can do it all.

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