Why Do We Need HDMI?

Anyone who has bought a TV, game console, or media player within the last few years has heard of HDMI, but many people are unclear on exactly what it is. While the name "HDMI", which is short for High Definition Multimedia Interface, probably makes it sound overly complicated, it's really very simple when you get right down to it. By the end of this article, you should have a good understanding of what HDMI is and why you need it.

Let's start with the basics.

HDMI is the standard interface for the new high definition televisions and home theater systems coming out today. A single HDMI cable is made up of a total of 19 separate wires combined into one. It has a data transfer rate of 5 Gbps, which is a huge increase from previous types of cables. The quality of the cable and this high data transfer rate allow HDMI cables to transfer a digital signal instead of an analog one.

This is important because analog signals seriously degrade sound and video quality. If you're using a DVD player or game console with an analog cable, then you are losing a significant amount of quality because of this. The quality is there in the DVDs or games, which are digital, but it's severely degraded just by going through an analog cable. This is why manufacturers are moving to the HDMI standard in all new media players and game consoles; it's the only way to ensure that the sound and picture quality they're putting into their products actually makes it to the televisions of the people who buy them.

So, knowing that HDMI is so important, how exactly do you get it?

It's not as difficult as you might think. It used to be that you could only get HDMI on expensive high-end televisions, but since it's becoming the new standard, even cheap, low-end LCD TVs typically have at least one HDMI port these days. More expensive televisions will, of course, have more ports. If you already have a TV with only one HDMI port, and you need more, there are HDMI switchers available that will allow you to switch between three or more different HDMI signals.

There are more technical things you can learn about HDMI, but you should be able to use it effectively just knowing the things I've told you here. If you want the best quality picture and sound on your TV, definitely make the move to HDMI. It has to happen sooner or later anyway.