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Is HDMI hook up necessary for awesome High Def TV?
January 6, 2009 11:40 AM   Subscribe

I have a new Samsung 1080/120hz hi def LCD yadda yadda yadda... The cable company provided RGB cable when they hooked up hi def cable. My question is whether or not I should get an HDMI cable. Does it make that much of a difference? It looks pretty darn good right now.
posted by zzazazz to Technology (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
FWIW, my cable guy told me there was no discernible difference between using a component cable vs. an hdmi cable.

I figure if there was a difference they'd be trying to sell me an hdmi cable for $100.
posted by gnutron at 11:51 AM on January 6, 2009


I really like HDMI (prefer it even), and they're ridiculously cheap on Amazon, so you may as well try it out to see whether you like it better.
posted by kdar at 11:51 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I run composite (RGB) cable between my DVR and my Samsung LCD. From what I understand, the main advantage of HDMI is that it also carries sound on the same cable- since I run my audio directly to my receiver from the DVR, it didn't make sense for me to use HDMI.

Also, FWIW, a buddy of mine had noticeable lag changing channels when using HDMI (Time Warner NYC), which went away when he went composite.
posted by mkultra at 11:51 AM on January 6, 2009


HDMI is better than component, but not much, and I'm not sure it's noticable, depending on the quality of the component cables. HDMI cables are pretty much all the same, video quality-wise. Don't pay big bucks for one, they can be found on Ebay for ~$5.00 shipped.
posted by Dorri732 at 11:52 AM on January 6, 2009


By the way: anybody who claims that a more expensive HDMI cable is better quality is either scamming you or doesn't know what they're talking about; HDMI is a digital protocol and so is basically all or nothing. Cheap HDMI cables looks just as good as expensive ones.
posted by kdar at 11:54 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't believe it possible (legally, not technically) to to 1080p over component. If your provider offers any 1080p content you'll have to use HDMI to take advantage of it. Other than that, you should be good to go with component connections.
posted by jluce50 at 11:57 AM on January 6, 2009


Wow, I butchered that. First sentence should read, "I don't believe it's possible (legally, not technically) to do 1080p over component".
posted by jluce50 at 11:59 AM on January 6, 2009


I just got a Pioneer Kuro, and it took a couple of days after I already had the TV and a new Blu Ray player for my HDMI cables to show up at the door. While I was waiting I had the Blu Ray hooked up with composite cables. After the HDMI cables arrived I hooked it up with those and I definitely noticed the difference.

I would go with HDMI, just don't buy them retail. I ordered mine from Monoprice at about $5 apiece.
posted by smoothvirus at 12:01 PM on January 6, 2009


I run composite (RGB) cable between my DVR and my Samsung LCD. From what I understand, the main advantage of HDMI is that it also carries sound on the same cable- since I run my audio directly to my receiver from the DVR, it didn't make sense for me to use HDMI.

I'm not sure what sort of receiver you have, but I run HDMI from my DVR (Comcast box) into my receiver, and then HDMI from my receiver into the TV.

One benefit of using HDMI from your cable box is that some programs are broadcast in surround sound, which the HDMI will transmit to your receiver (assuming you have it set up like mine).

It was kind of fun watching the Tournament of Roses Parade this past week and hearing the marching bands audibly progress from one side of my room to the other.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:05 PM on January 6, 2009


you cannot get 1080p over component per the spec for blue-ray, dvrs, cable boxes etc. you must use an HDMI so that you get the HDCP content protection. so if you stick with component you are actually giving up that resolution. Go with HDMI and poof, 1080p (and trust me you can see the difference when something comes into the display especially yours at 1080p) you can buy cheap cheap cheap hdmi cables from sayal electronics, walmart, ebay, amazon etc all as mentioned.
posted by chasles at 12:06 PM on January 6, 2009


There are no cable services/cable boxes that provide a true 1080p video source. If it's broadcast, cable, or satellite service, 1080i should be the highest resolution of any channel you receive. As it stands right now, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are the only formats that can provide a native 1080p resolution.

You won't see a difference between HDMI or component oout of your cable box - you'll still be receiving 1080i at best.
posted by spoons at 12:27 PM on January 6, 2009


yep, as spoons says, no tv source is 1080p so far, so unless you are using a gaming console, or a Blueray player, or HD DVD player, it doesn't matter right now.
posted by Amby72 at 1:42 PM on January 6, 2009


My experience: they both look awesome. However, keep in mind that HDMI carries the audio as well, so you trade 5 cables (R, G, B, Left, Right) for 1. On the down side, HDMI does take a few seconds to "get" the signal (although I have not noticed it in changing channels), and the audio over HDMI is softer, but it may depend on the TV.

I have NO CLUE how stores still sell HDMI cables for $30 and up - including Wal-Mart! It's insane. As long as people pay it, I guess they will keep charging it.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:50 PM on January 6, 2009


Fuzzy Skinner: I have NO CLUE how stores still sell HDMI cables for $30 and up - including Wal-Mart! It's insane. As long as people pay it, I guess they will keep charging it.

Same way they sell expensive [INSERT ANY OTHER KIND OF CABLE HERE]. Retailers make up for low margins on big electronics with high margins on accessories.
posted by mkultra at 1:57 PM on January 6, 2009


If you do go with HDMI, I strongly recommend Monoprice.com for all cable needs.
posted by inigo2 at 2:01 PM on January 6, 2009


The size of your screen is a factor as well, but ultimately HDMI is going to look better.
posted by doomtop at 2:59 PM on January 6, 2009


The HDMI will be better. I've seen it with my own eyes- it's noisier. The component cables are analog. They do analog quite nicely, but you are introducing a digital to analog to digital path in the signal, and that will degrade things. The TV may well clean up the noise to some extent, but why not spend the $10 and hook it up and see?
posted by gjc at 4:59 PM on January 6, 2009


Despite what people are saying above, there are differences between HDMI cables. Just because the signal is digital doesn't mean that factors such as cable reactance, etc, don't have an effect, though the result is usually more go/no go than poor quality picture.

I recently had a play with a couple of HDMI cables for a friend. One was causing handshake problems, the other was OK. To look at physically, the cables were identical. Tested with a multimeter to ensure continuity & check for HRs, and they were both identical. Did a 100MHz frequency sweep (I don't have a pulse generator or 'scope fast/good enough to recreate or look at a digital waveform at HDMI frequencies), and the dud cable had odd dips all over the place - the problem cable had about 4~5 times as many dips across the sweep range as the good cable, and there was a fair bit of crosstalk between each wire.

Obviously the faulty cable was markedly different in capacitance and shielding than the good cable, and one or more of those dips was at the right frequency to distort the digital signal beyond recovery. A crap cable can make a nice clean square wave in turn to mush 80cm later...

There seems to be a lot of cheap & nasty HDMI cables coming out of places like China at the moment - I've seen an upsurge of posts on local DTV messageboards about problem cables recently, and the other day I saw a pack of 2 HDMI cables for $10 at a local cheapjack shop. I'd bet more than a few of these are turning up for sale on eBay or messageboards.

That said, there's no reason to go paying top dollar for 'digital quality' / Monster-type HDMI leads. Just beware the cheap ones, and be slightly wary of sellers offering unbranded "just as good as X!" cables - not because they're necessarily disreputable, but because they're more likely to be duped by dodgy suppliers.
posted by Pinback at 5:28 PM on January 6, 2009


Despite what people are saying above, there are differences between HDMI cables. Just because the signal is digital doesn't mean that factors such as cable reactance, etc, don't have an effect, though the result is usually more go/no go than poor quality picture.

I recently had a play with a couple of HDMI cables for a friend. One was causing handshake problems, the other was OK. To look at physically, the cables were identical. Tested with a multimeter to ensure continuity & check for HRs, and they were both identical. Did a 100MHz frequency sweep (I don't have a pulse generator or 'scope fast/good enough to recreate or look at a digital waveform at HDMI frequencies), and the dud cable had odd dips all over the place - the problem cable had about 4~5 times as many dips across the sweep range as the good cable, and there was a fair bit of crosstalk between each wire.


As you observed, though there are differences between HDMI cables the result is either a working cable, or a non-working cable.

There is no range of quality in the resulting video when using HDMI cables of varying quality. Either you get a picture, or you don't. That's the nature of the digital connection. With analog cables the quality of the cable can result in anything from no picture to great picture, but you will notice all of the gray areas. With a digital connection it either works and you keep the cable, or it doesn't work and you return the cable.
posted by odinsdream at 5:45 PM on January 6, 2009


Oh, and I personally recommend monoprice for all cables of any type, I've never had an issue with their products. Their prices are often the best you can find and the selection is great.
posted by odinsdream at 5:46 PM on January 6, 2009


Lots of bad information in this thread:

chasles, jluce50: You can do 1080p over component. My Xbox 360 is running that way. HDCP is only required for DIGITAL signals, component is analog.

That said, quality wise, HDMI will give a bit crisper picture than component. Similar to going from VGA->DVI.

nthing the monoprice suggestions, also, make sure to get a HDMI 1.3 cable.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:25 AM on January 7, 2009


I'll jump in just to tamp the misconceptions above that an HDMI signal will either work or not work just because there are ones and ohs at work. HDMI, just like S/PDIF, another "pure digital interconnect", doesn't use error correction so if any part of the signal is lost it's truly lost.

You might've come across Blue Jeans Cable when they got some attention for fronting up to Monster Cable... nice story, but here's one on their site about HDMI vs component that might help you out.
posted by sub-culture at 7:50 AM on January 7, 2009


@wongcorgi: What I said is correct, although I could have been a bit more specific. No DVR, Cable/Sat box, or DVD player will output restricted content at 1080p over component if they're operating legally (Xbox360 won't do HD-DVD at 1080p over component). Games and other content aren't restricted the same way.
posted by jluce50 at 9:42 AM on January 7, 2009


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