Most televisions today come with an array of ports and sockets. When it comes to connecting a DVD player, Sky+ box or streaming device to your TV you’ll normally use an HDMI cable. Most televisions now have at least two HDMI inputs and the majority of living room TVs have at least four HDMI inputs.
HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface – simply the standard (and the cable) that gets the audio and video from a device to your TV. It’s completely digital, so unlike the days of analogue cables between your Sky box or VCR and a television the picture won’t fade, go fuzzy or be susceptible to interference.
The cables are also easy to fit – they can only be connected in one way and are easy to push in.
How much should you pay for a HDMI cable?
It’s possible to spend anything between £3.99 and £89.99 on a two metre HDMI cable.
In reality for the vast majority of users there is no discernable difference in the picture and audio quality between different HDMI cables. The signal carried on a HDMI cable is completely digital, so unlike SCART and coaxial cables the picture will either work or it won’t.
There has been debate in recent years about claims that more expensive cables offer a better picture, and that by choosing a cheap cable you could miss out on the quality that high definition has to offer.
It is certainly possible that the cheapest cables will not be as durable or long-lasting as a cable from a known brand, but a two metre cable costing less than £15 should be suitable for most situations.
Choosing a HDMI cable
The main factor to consider is the length of cable required. HDMI leads vary from 1 metre to around 20 metres. A 2m or 3m cable should be suitable for most TVs where the device is in a cabinet or TV stand. This gives enough slack on the cable that you can pull the device out for cleaning or to access the connections on the back.
To ensure a trouble-free installation you can choose from a recognised cable brand like Belkin. Alternatively you can check online reviews for cheaper cables. The AmazonBasics 2 metre HDMI cable has more than 1,400 five star reviews.
Some HDMI cables come with gold plated connectors. This will do nothing to improve the quality of the picture or audio, but as gold doesn’t tarnish your cables could last longer.
Connecting HDMI cables to TVs and devices
Hooking up your device to your television is easy with HDMI cables.
Push the connector at one end of the cable into your source device, such as a Blu-ray player, and push the connector into a HDMI port on your TV. Turn on the TV and select the relevant input with your remote control.
Extending HDMI cables
The longest HDMI cables available are approximately 20 metres in length. Once the cables exceed this distance the signal may not be strong enough to provide the audio and video to your TV.
For long distances between a source device and a display a HDMI cable can be extended with a special device. A HDMI extender converts from a HDMI connection to an RJ45 connection before passing the signal over a Cat 5e or Cat 6 network cable to another device, converting back to HDMI.
The cost of the HDMI cables, HDMI extender and network cable make this option viable for certain circumstances, such as watching Sky channels from a Sky+ HD box in a different room. For Freesat, Blu-ray players and streaming devices it can be more convenient and cost effective to install a new one with the television rather than connecting to an existing device.