What’s the difference between… HDMI cables?
Q This is probably a daft question, but could you explain the difference between HDMI cables? I have an HP 15-ac152sa laptop that I wanted to connect to my HDTV. I tested it by temporarily using the HDMI cable from my Sky box, which worked fine. As my TV has two HDMI inputs, I thought I’d buy another cable, just for the laptop. However, on Amazon I see cables with descriptions such as HDMI 1.4, 1.4a, 2.0 and 2.0a. I always thought an HDMI cable was an HDMI cable! Which one do I need for my laptop? My current cable has no markings, other than an ‘HDMI’ label. Clive Macleod
A There are many minor and a handful of not-so-minor differences between all these HDMI cable types, but, from the perspective of the average chap in the street, the key distinction is bandwidth – or the amount of digital data that can be pumped up and down the cable.
The most widespread standard currently is HDMI 1.4, which supports resolutions of 1920x1080 pixels at a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. This means it’s suitable for devices marketed as high definition (HD), or ‘full HD’ (FHD). The 1.4 standard does also support resolutions of up to 4096x2160, so it’ll work with the latest 4K (or ‘ultra high definition’) equipment. However, at that quality the refresh rate is limited to just 24Hz. That’s okay for TV content running at up to 24 frames per second, but not above. Many 4K movies and games consoles are able to deliver more than that.
That’s where HDMI 2.0 comes in. It ups the bandwidth capacity to handle 4K pictures at refresh rates of up to 60Hz. HDMI 2.1 – the latest standard – increases this to 4K (or even 8K resolution) at 120Hz. Suffixes like ‘a’ or ‘b’ signify minor revisions to the particular numbered standard.
For your laptop to your TV link, any HDMI 1.4 cable will do, but HDMI 2.0 variants are barely more expensive – Amazon sells them for just £5 ( www. snipca.com/27172). They’re physically identical and backwards compatible, so buying an HDMI 2.0 version will be useful now and into the future.
HDMI 2.0 offers high bandwidth and will be useful now and in the future