The best HDMI cable
If you've spent the money on a 4K Blu-ray player and a high-quality 4K TV, you're obviously seeking excellent video quality. However, if you aren't connecting these devices with an HDMI cable, you're sacrificing quality and not receiving the full benefits of these devices.
HDMI (short for High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is the standard for premium digital quality. However, just picking any HDMI cable isn't the answer. You need an HDMI cable that gives you a high level of performance.
Considerations when choosing HDMI cables
When searching for the best HDMI cable, start by considering the length. Common lengths for HDMI cables include 1.5, 3, 6, and 10 feet. However, other sizes are available, too, including much longer cables.
Picking the right length of cable is important. Select a cable that's too short, and you won't be able to place your devices exactly where you want. Select a cable that's too long, and you end up wasting money, because longer cables cost quite a bit more than shorter ones. Extremely long cables (50 feet or more) could suffer from signal degradation as well.
Figure out the layout of the devices you want to connect to the TV with HDMI cables, then measure the distance so you can pick the proper cable length. Give yourself a little bit of extra length in the cable versus the measured distance to make installation easier.
The most important feature to consider in an HDMI cable is the version of the HDMI standard that it can support. Newer cables that can support the latest version give you the best performance now and in the future.
Version 2.1: HDMI 2.1 is the latest standard. It can handle 4K video resolution at fast refresh rates. This outperforms older HDMI standards that may struggle with some 4K content. HDMI 2.1 is perfect for 4K gaming and movies on 4K Blu-ray players. As TV programming migrates from HD to 4K resolution over the next few years, an HDMI 2.1 cable will continue to give you excellent performance.
Version 2.0a: HDMI 2.0a improves on HDMI 2.0 by adding support for technologies like HDR and Dolby Vision, which greatly improve your TV image quality.
Version 2.0: HDMI 2.0 cables support the current needs of most people, even though 2.0 doesn't support HDR programming. Because this technology is still in its infancy, you may not need HDMI 2.0a or HDMI 2.1 just yet. Once HDR is more prevalent you may need to replace HDMI 2.0 cables, but they work nicely in today's TV world.
Version 1.4: The HDMI 1.4 standard initially appeared a decade ago, but it still remains relevant. It can support basic 4K resolution at a slow refresh rate, as well as all HD content. As with HDMI 2.0 cables, HDMI 1.4 cables serve many people well enough today, but you may need to replace them in a couple of years.
HDMI cables can range in price between $5 and $100. Most people can receive adequate quality with an HDMI cable that costs less than $25, especially for lengths of six feet or less.
Q. Why does my picture quality suffer after I've attached the HDMI cable?
A. A poor quality HDMI cable negatively affects image quality. This sometimes occurs with a cheap HDMI cable that ships free with a piece of digital media hardware. Try a high-quality HDMI cable to see if it fixes the problem.
Q. How do I connect devices that don't have HDMI ports to my 4K TV?
A. You can purchase an HDMI adapter that allows for connecting HDMI cables to older devices. However, the quality of the signal will not significantly improve just by using an HDMI cable.
HDMI cables we recommend
Best of the best: ATEVON HDMI Cable
Our take: Well-built HDMI cable that's sure to generate maximum data transfer speeds and long-lasting performance.
What we like: Will support 4K video transmission at 60Hz. Uses high-quality copper wiring and gold-plated connectors.
What we dislike: Sometimes doesn't handle audio signal with the reliability we'd like to see.
Best bang for your buck: Twisted Veins HDMI Cable, Three-Pack
Our take: You'll receive a great value with this product as you receive three cables for one price.
What we like: Includes a tough outer layer that keeps the interior wiring safe. Supports 4K video at 60Hz.
What we dislike: You may experience failures of these cables at a higher rate than expected over time.
Choice 3: Rankie HDMI Cable
Our take: Cord will not curl up, allowing you to easily stretch it to its full length.
What we like: Uses gold-plated connectors for long-lasting performance. Uses pure copper wiring on the interior.
What we dislike: Will support 4K video, but only at a 30Hz refresh rate.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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