HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cables are so ubiquitous these days that it’s easy to forget how revolutionary this cable standard was when it first appeared. A single, all-digital cable that carries both HD video and multichannel audio information is a major step up from the legacy analog cables we’ve all used up to that point.
You probably don’t think much about HDMI cables. Your console or BluRay player probably comes with it in the box, or you just buy it from your local store, plug it in and never worry about it again. However, many people may not be aware that you can use long HDMI cables for much longer distances than the roughly one meter cables that most people use.
By extending HDMI cables, you will unlock many interesting possibilities that you might not even have thought of. But before we get to that, let’s see how long an HDMI cable can be made.
How long are the HDMI cables?
Standard HDMI cables can be purchased up to 20 meters, which is just over 65 feet. In fact, this should be more than enough for everyone but the most ambitious project, but you can last even longer with the right equipment.
With an HDMI repeater or other active power solution, you can reach insane dimensions. High-end solutions can even carry HDMI signals over Ethernet cables, although we are moving out of the realm of home-grade solutions.
Just keep in mind that in some cases, using HDMI repeaters or really long HDMI cables can have a noticeable impact on latency, which is important for applications like video games, but not so much for home theater.
Silent Action and Games
Gaming PCs, laptops, and consoles can get quite loud, so if you don’t like your work or games being spoiled by noisy fans, you can use a long HDMI cable to carry the signal from another room, toilet, or other barrier that blocks out sound.
Combined with a wireless controller, keyboard and mouse, you shouldn’t have any reason to physically access the machine, especially if you mainly play digital games.
This is what might be better for Thunderbolt optical cables in the future, but it is a rather expensive and rare solution right now.
Keep the controller close
You can also do the other way around: put your console (or other device) near where you are sitting, then run a long HDMI cable to the remote display. This means you can easily swap drives, access ports, and generally control the machine.
This scenario is useful if you have a screen that attaches to a wall where there is no room for a stand. So your console should be close at hand.
Installing a Projector
Home theater projectors aren’t as popular as they used to be thanks to the relatively affordable large screen TVs, but if you want that kind of cinema experience, there is still no substitute for them. The point is, while the projection screen may be in the front, the projector itself should be far across the room.
Your audio / video equipment must be in front in front of you in order to use your remote control. Long HDMI cables like these are invaluable when it comes to properly installing your projector and other equipment in your home theater.
Use HDMI-CEC to control equipment remotely
HDMI is not a one-way street. Thanks to the so-called HDMI-CEC, you can control devices connected to your TV via HDMI. For example, your TV might turn on a connected game console, use the remote to navigate menus on a BluRay player, or whatever the connected device supports.
A long HDMI cable means you can control these remote devices from another room or if they are locked in a soundproof cabinet. This means your display now also acts as a remote repeater, so you don’t have to worry about wireless signals passing through walls for this to work.
Two TVs Mirror with Partition
Here is a very cool application for long HDMI cables. You can buy an HDMI splitter and then take one source and send it to multiple displays at the same time. You can have two televisions facing different directions, or televisions in different rooms that play the same channel. What’s more, most HDMI splitters are signal boosters as well, so you can plug a long HDMI cable into it and then run two long cables out of it.
Why do you need this? There are actually a lot of them, although in the world of smart TVs and streaming services, this no longer makes much sense. Most people still use satellite or cable boxes with HDMI output. Splitting the HDMI cable using long cables would be a much better solution than using a stand
as an alternative to sending
If you have a suitable smart TV or streaming, you can wirelessly cast your phone screen to your TV. This is quite convenient, but if everything is not optimal, it can lead to crashes or poor image quality. So why not use a long HDMI cable to connect your phone to your TV?
It might sound a little silly, but there are some streaming apps that simply don’t have Smart TV apps, and this is a much more reliable way to get your picture on the big screen. Just remember that you will need an HDMI adapter for your phone.
Alternatives to HDMI Long Cables
A straight-through cable connection means minimal hassle, flawless reliability (if it works correctly in the first place) and, most importantly, is often the cheapest solution. This does not mean that you cannot try several alternatives. If all you need is to watch video content, then wirelessly streaming video to your TV is really all you need. The delay is irrelevant in this case, since the video viewing is not interactive.
If you really want to broadcast your screen wirelessly, there are many options. If you have an Apple TV connected to your TV, you can use AirPlay to mirror your Mac or iOS device. Then there is MiraCast for which you can buy keys. Basically, it’s wireless HDMI. Another option is Chromecast devices.
Depending on the specific wireless technology, latency may not be acceptable to you, wired HDMI will still be king for now. Technologies such as WiGig exist that provide latency-free wireless video transmission for high-performance applications such as VR.
When technologies such as WiGig become mainstream, the need for HDMI (or any cables) may become a thing of the past, but now it is impossible and impractical to go this way. So, for now, the humble HDMI cable is still the best solution for long distance video transmission.