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What Is an HDMI Cable Used For(2)?
Nov 09, 2018

Types of HDMI

Originally released in December 2002, HDMI 1.0 was the first version of the HDMI standard. Since that release, HDMI has gone through many changes. The standard is constantly evolving to support new technology and new products.

Many of of these changes are minor. In January 2017, for example, HDMI 2.1, was announced. Expected in Q2 2017, this latest format will support higher video resolutions, such as 8K, as well as Dynamic HDR, increased bandwidth with a new 48G cable. This cable will be backwards compatible with your existing HDMI equipment, so you won't have to start from scratch.

If you're not upgrading to that type of display, any and all HDMI cables will work with previous versions of the spec.

Do I Have HDMI?

When shopping for a TV, Blu-ray player, media streamer, or any other audio and video product, check the specs to see if it comes with HDMI inputs and outputs—as well as how many it has.

If you already have the device in question, it's pretty easy to find out whether or not you have HDMI inputs and outputs. Just look on the back and sides of your component. Most receivers, Blu-ray and DVD players, media streamers, and TVs have HDMI ports on the back, although some receivers put one HDMI port on the front and TVs sometimes have them on the side.

HDMI ports have a distinctive shape, but are also labeled "HDMI." If you have multiple HDMI inputs, they will typically be numbered: HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc. If the device has an HDMI output, that is typically labeled as such as well.

HDMI Hookup Process

Some devices come with their own HDMI cable, but odds are you'll have to buy one separately. (See below for more info on that.)

Once you have an HDMI cable, all you need to do is run an HDMI cable from the device's HDMI output to the TV's HDMI input.

If you have a receiver in the mix, you will run separate cables for each device you want to connect into the receiver. That means one cable from the media streamer, another from the Blu-ray player, and a third from the cable box. Each of those will be connected using an HDMI cable in the corresponding device's HDMI output with the other end going into an HDMI input on the receiver. Then, you will have one cable going from the receiver's HDMI output to an HDMI input on the TV.

Just know that it's important to have the right number of HDMI inputs and outputs. In other words, if your TV only has one HDMI port, you won't be able to connect a cable box and a media streamer. This is where a receiver usually make sense, since it has multiple inputs--the receiver acts as a sort of switch box to route whatever device you want to use to the TV. That said, many newer HDTVs have three or more inputs.

Even though HDMI is the best way to connect your HD components, it does have its limits—and that's around 50 feet, depending on the version you're using. That means if you're planning to connect a media streamer to a TV on the other side of the house, you may risk signal degradation. Of course, most people won't ever have to deal with that (or may call in a professional installer to deal with it). If you do plan to stretch that signal, consider adding a HDMI signal extender/booster into your setup.


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