What Kind of HDMI Cable Do I Need for My LCD TV?

by Jacob Andrew

Liquid crystal display televisions have provided viewers with a higher quality picture in a considerably more compact form than cathode ray tube televisions. These innovations in display technology were soon matched by innovations in how devices connect to televisions, in the form of the high-definition multimedia interface. The developers of the HDMI standard have created many variations of the cable, which can leave LCD television owners confused. A few simple considerations can help clarify which HDMI cable type will work best with your LCD TV.

Physical Connection

HDMI standards are separated into five types, labeled as types A through E. On the backs of most LCD TVs and devices are HDMI connections for type A. The A types measure roughly 1/2-inch wide and less than 1/4-inch high. HDMI specification 1.3 introduced a type C connector, also called mini HDMI, which carries the same 19-wire in a plug that's slightly smaller than the other types. Finally, a micro format, type D, was introduced in HDMI specification 1.4, which is roughly half the size of the mini HDMI. Mini and micro HDMI standards are particularly popular for digital camcorders and laptop connections. The type of HDMI cable you need must match your port type on one end for the LCD TV, and at the other end the port type of the device you wish to connect.

Maximum Quality

HDMI standards are designed to continually evolve with new digital image technologies. This quality is often expressed in the maximum number of rows of pixels and how those rows are drawn, progressive or interlaced. A TV that accommodates 1080 rows of pixels, but is connected to a device that sends 720 rows of pixel will only show 720 rows of pixels. In this instance, older HDMI cables--- particularly those made prior to the 1.3 standard ---will work fine. However, if the device sends 1080 row and the LCD TV can display 1080 rows, then an older HDMI cable will force the signal to only display 720 rows. Displaying more than 1080 rows often requires a doubled data rate HDMI cable, defined as a type B.

Features

HDMI is unique in that it accommodates many different functions into a single cable. Unfortunately, not all cables support the features needed by the source or the device. If your source device supports Ethernet connections over HDMI, then you will need to get an HDMI cable with Ethernet. Furthermore, Deep Color and 3D television signals will require high speed cables or these feature will not appear. Fortunately, HDMI standards will adapt to whatever features are compatible on the television, source device and cable.

Avoiding Overpriced HDMI

While there are significant differences between the features of HDMI cables, some cable manufacturers take advantage of these discrepancies. HDMI is a digital signal, which means that as long as the LCD television can read it, it will come through in full clarity. If the signal within the cable has deteriorated, the connection simply will not work. Some manufacturers, however, claim that they produce premium cables which, though likely made using superior materials and better methods, will not produce a "better" image than the same type of cable made more cheaply. Remember that the right cable comes down to the features, the specification number and whether its standard or high speed.

About the Author

Jacob Andrew previously worked as an A+ and CCNA-certified technology specialist. After receiving his BA in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2012, he turned his focus towards writing about travel, politics and current technology.

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