What Is an HDMI Cable Used For?

High-definition multimedia interface cables are the primary cables used to transmit high-definition digital video and audio data to consumer visual media displays.

Man watching television
HDTVs connect to Blu-ray Disc players and video game consoles using HDMI.
credit: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

History

Latest Technology Innovations Introduced At 2010 Consumer Electronics Show
High-definition TVs
credit: David Becker/Getty Images News/Getty Images

HDMI technology was first released to the market in December 2002. This was around the same time that high-definition televisions first hit the mainstream market. HDMI cables were developed to reduce the amount of cords necessary to transmit both digital video and digital audio to HD-capable devices.

Function

The International Consumer Electronics Show Highlights Latest Gadgets
HDMI cables
credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images News/Getty Images

HDMI cables take encrypted, uncompressed digital video and audio from an HD-capable source such as a Blu-ray Disc player, HD-capable digital cable box or computer and allow them to be displayed on HDTVs and high-definition monitors.

Benefits

Family watching TV at home
HDTV
credit: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

HDMI technology enables a user to get both video and audio to an HDTV or computer monitor using only one cable. This is an improvement over DVI cables, which only transmit video.

Considerations

Couple watching television on sofa
Watching TV
credit: Ryan McVay/Valueline/Getty Images

As the length of HDMI cable increases, there is an increased risk of signal degradation. For instance, most HDMI cables are unable to transmit true 1080p resolution signal beyond distances of 50 feet. HDMI version 1.3, which provides support for Deep Color, has a signal degradation range of less than 20 feet.

Fun Fact

Computer on a desk
Computer
credit: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

PCs can be attached to HDTVs if the PC has an HDMI-out port or contains a graphics card with a DVI port and a DVI to HDMI cable is used.