You go in one store and see a 6-foot HDMI This means 38 solder joints made by hand for
cable for $120; you visit another and see a each cable, greatly increasing the likelihood of
seemingly similar cable for $49. Can there be error. Higher-performance (and inherently more
that much difference in something as innocu- reliable) HDMI cables are constructed using
ous as a cable? techniques other than hand-soldering, such as
The short answer is that there are differences in crimping and wave-soldering.
cable design, materials, manufacturing quality Quality-control testing of HDMI cables is
and quality-control testing disciplines. A cable’s extremely important. While many manufac-
job is to transfer information with minimal or turers use an eye-pattern wave test, better
(ideally) no distortion or loss. How it achieves manufacturers also employ a bit error rate test.
that can vary. Ensuring minimal information loss is best veri-
Take, for example, an HDMI cable. These cables fied by actually counting the bit error rate.
are hard to make. There are 19 separate A tremendous amount of information runs
connections at each end of the cable; precise from your signal source to your HDTV, espe-
construction techniques are vitally important. cially with the newer 1080p requirements. Look
Many manufacturers manually solder these for cables that are specified as “HDMI 1. 3” or
delicate connections. “full HD.”
Making the connections: a look at cables
All you have left to do is connect all the pieces. Cables can be confusing—
and if you use the wrong ones, you won’t get the full HDTV experience. Also,
the type of cables you can use depends on your system. Here’s an overview of
cable types and where to use them.
HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface). HDMI delivers uncompressed
1080p HD video and up to 7. 1 channels of surround sound. You get top-quality
video and sound—all in one cable. HDMI should be your first choice; it’s a digital connection and is closely related to the DVI connections found on many
PCs and monitors. Plus it’s a big step up in convenience.
DVI (digital visual interface). DVI can carry 1080p HD video, but not audio.
Component. These are red, green and blue video cables that can handle high-definition resolution. Before the arrival of HDMI, component cables were
the preferred way to transmit HD video signals. If you are like many people,
you haven’t bought a Blu-ray Disc player yet but you probably already own
a DVD player. Most of these players use component video outputs, so you
may need a quality component cable with your system.
Of course, DVI and component cables carry only the video signal. You’ll
need audio cables to complete the connection. You can use the standard
analog audio connections (a red and white pair of RCA connectors), but
for best results, use a digital connection if one is available. The choices are
digital optical or digital coaxial cables.
S-video. This cable breaks video information into two parts: one for color
and one for brightness. Use S-video only to connect to standard-definition
devices, such as VHS players, DVD players or video camcorders. (Note that
some digital camcorders now record high-definition images, so you don’t
want to use S-video or composite connections with them.)
Composite. This cable has a yellow connector for video and red and white
connectors for stereo sound. They can’t handle HD signals.