The latest change to the HDMI 2.1a specification, which adds HDMI Cable Power, will allow us to use much longer cables and separate our gear from our screens (via Flat PanelsHD).
The more data you pump down a passive wire, the shorter that wire needs to be to get the data flowing through it. Such is the case with HDMI 2.1a compared to its much older cousin HDMI 2.0. Older HDMI cables might reach 30 feet or more while still maintaining full bandwidth and connection quality, but HDMI 2.1a represents a huge leap in bandwidth and data requirements compared to these older versions, often reaching a maximum length of 10 Foot, the cable manufacturer states Cable Matters.
This is where HDMI Cable Power comes into play. For HDMI 2.1a to go beyond that 10 foot distance, you need a powered HDMI cable. The HDMI cables behind most of our TVs are passive, and current active cables require a separate power source fed through a third connector to reach these longer lengths. HDMI Cable Power delivers power through the HDMI connector itself, rather than adding the extra complexity of a separate connector. HDMI cable power cables, like active HDMI cables, are still unidirectional, meaning there is a defined source and destination end, rather than the two being interchangeable like passive HDMI cables.
Right now there aren’t really any devices that offer HDMI cable performance, so we’ll see that hit TVs and devices for years to come. When the hardware comes out, you’ll need an HDMI cable that supports CablePower, and a source device — gaming console, set-top box, or Blu-ray player — that also supports it.
For most of us this is not an issue. Most home users, even home theater geeks, have their TVs and devices right next to each other. But for someone setting up a really impressive home theater, or wanting to run a long cable from their PC in one room to their TV in another, this will eventually be useful technology. But it will also complicate the whole process of connecting new hardware; Be sure to read our article on how HDMI 2.1a is transforming a previously universal cable standard into something else.
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