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Thread: The A/V Cable Thread

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trant View Post
    I ordered some cables from monoprice.com, got them in 1 business day with standard USPS shipping.

    Seem to be pretty good quality, but I didn't get to try them out too long because my system selector box broke. (Nothing to do with the cables)

    So, oh well. Something else to drop money on.
    I, too, was very surprised that my after hours order last Thursday was in my hands Saturday via standard USPS. I ordered (10) 10-ft HDMI, (8) Toslink, and (3) DVI-HDMI adapters. Everything came as ordered.

    The cables are great. I can't recommend them enough.

  2. #32
    Chipping for par lath19's Avatar




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    I just bought a new TV and was offered some accessories to go with it. $120 for a 2 meter Monster HDMI cable. Unreal. I can't believe people are actually dumb enough to drop that kind of coin on something that can be had for 1/15th of the price.

  3. #33
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    I've used ebay in the past when purchasing cables, thanks for posting those links.

    Quote Originally Posted by mutt View Post
    I saw basically no change when I went from component to HDMI.
    Same here, there really wasn't a difference at all, a little disappointing.

  4. #34
    Chipping for par lath19's Avatar




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    Quote Originally Posted by MadDog20/20 View Post
    Same here, there really wasn't a difference at all, a little disappointing.
    The difference is much more noticeable if you are used to HMDI and then switch over to component. When you get accustomed to the best anything of lesser quality is pretty obvious. Same thing goes for digital/analog connections for a home theater system. When I went from RCA cables to optical I couldn't really tell the difference. Since Time Warner ran out of HD-DVR boxes I've had to go back to analog sound for the time being. It is so much worse than digital.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lath19 View Post
    I just bought a new TV and was offered some accessories to go with it. $120 for a 2 meter Monster HDMI cable. Unreal. I can't believe people are actually dumb enough to drop that kind of coin on something that can be had for 1/15th of the price.
    This is so true.

    I had never checked out the price of HDMI cables in an actual B&M store until last weekend. $60 for a 6 ft HDMI cable.
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1091101517438

    Whereas Monoprice.com has the SAME quality HDMI cable @ $5.25 for a 6 ft HDMI cable.
    http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...ormat=2&style=

    Amazing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mutt View Post
    Yep, seconded. Here's the one I got:

    http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...ormat=2&style=

    Excellent quality cable.


    I just ordered 2 of these, they wanted to charge me over $100 each when I bought the tv yesterday. I sent it next day so I hope it gets here before the Directv guy tomorrow morning!

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    Go, Kings, Go rinkrat's Avatar




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    Quote Originally Posted by lath19 View Post
    I just bought a new TV and was offered some accessories to go with it. $120 for a 2 meter Monster HDMI cable. Unreal. I can't believe people are actually dumb enough to drop that kind of coin on something that can be had for 1/15th of the price.


    When I bought my TV the Circuit City clerk was acting like she had me by the balls by suggesting that I HAD to buy the $120 cable. No way am I paying 1/4 the price of the TV just to plug it in, this is a scam! I left it there, hoping to find a deal like this. THanks for the heads up. I just paid $16 extra for next day air since the DTV guy is here between 8-12 on tomorrow, but I guess the price of the cable will offset that.

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    I ordered a boatload of cabling from them last week, both for my computer and for my soon to be planning on going out and starting to look for a HD TV. Got it all in a box in two days. All EXCELLENT QUALITY cables and the total was less than $50 for:

    Two 10' HDMI
    Two 12' USB
    One 6' USB extension
    Two 10' DVI
    Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Bullets are cheap. Life is priceless.


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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyBarneyJets View Post
    I ordered a boatload of cabling from them last week, both for my computer and for my soon to be planning on going out and starting to look for a HD TV. Got it all in a box in two days. All EXCELLENT QUALITY cables and the total was less than $50 for:

    Two 10' HDMI
    Two 12' USB
    One 6' USB extension
    Two 10' DVI
    That would have probably been well over $300 at Best Buy or Circuit City

  10. #40
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    Here is the text from an article distributed at work (sorry about the absent graphics) concerning information on HDMI and it's rollout into the real world. There is some good info here on history, technical parameters and troubleshooting...

    HDMI Is Here
    Are You Ready?

    By Joanne Bandlow, Time Warner Cable

    Editor's note: We usually look at high definition (HD) from a network and
    encoding perspective. How cable operators are going to put several dozen
    more HD channels and hundreds of additional hours of nonlinear HD content
    in front of their subscribers is a large engineering task, indeed. But
    there's also action on the subscriber side. And not just the HDTV sets or
    set-top boxes. The HDMI cable and its associated protocols deserve
    attention, too. TWC's Joanne Bandlow makes that clear in what follows.

    What it is
    HDMI stands for high definition multimedia interface and was developed by
    the HDMI Founders, a group of consumer electronics (CE) companies
    including Hitachi, Matsu****a Electric (Panasonic), Royal Philips
    Electronics, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson and Toshiba. CE manufacturers
    pay fees for HDMI ports to HDMI Licensing LLC.

    HDMI is a method for connecting a source device such as a set-top box or
    DVD player to a display device using a single cable. HDMI carries three
    channels of uncompressed digital video as well as digital audio. The HDMI
    specification describes both the physical connection in terms of connector
    style and pinouts as well as the signaling that travels down the wire.

    The HDMI connector contains 19 pins. It is a member of the "D-Sub"
    connector style.

    Connector pinouts
    HDMI allows for three channels of digital video as well as clock, data and
    dynamic display configuration (DDC) information. The DDC channel is an I2C
    serial bus, while the video runs on multiple pairs of LVDS/TMDS.

    The video circuits inside an HDMI or digital visual interface (DVI) device
    use a signaling method called transition minimized differential signaling
    (TMDS). This is a flavor of low voltage differential signaling (LVDS). An
    LVDS signal is 300 mv peak-to-peak into a 100-ohm twisted-pair, very
    similar to the twisted-pair that we see inside an Ethernet cable, except
    that the HDMI cable uses a separate shield around each video pair to
    minimize crosstalk.

    To see what "transition minimized" means, note the difference between the
    following examples:
    LVDS - 10110101001010101010 (unencoded video)
    TMDS - 11110000110011001100 (ones and zeroes bunched)

    A TMDS signal employs a method of encoding the bits that clumps ones and
    zeroes together to minimize the number of 1-to-0 transitions to improve
    electromagnetic interference (EMI) and skew tolerance. Because the rising
    edge of a square wave (a transition from 1 to 0 or vice versa) contains
    boatloads of harmonic energy, it helps to contain EMI by keeping the
    number of those sharp transitions to a minimum; hence, "transition
    minimized" in the name. The eight-bit video signal is encoded into a
    10-bit symbol at the transmitting end and decoded at the set.

    DDC and Hotplug
    Did you ever wonder how your computer knows what kind of monitor is
    plugged into it? That video cable going from the PC to the monitor has a
    two-way data path in it for something called display data channel (DDC) It
    is also called dynamic display configuration.

    Designed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), DDC
    describes a protocol that enables a source device such as a set-top box or
    a computer's video output card to query the display that it's attached to
    and set its scan rates accordingly. A DDC query from the source device
    prompts the display to respond with its manufacturer name, model number
    and display capabilities.

    DDC was designed to allow computers to be connected to cathode ray tube
    (CRT) monitors without the fear of running the computer's resolution at
    something higher than the monitor can handle. If this weren't in place
    (or, in some cases, if it were overridden by the user), it would be
    possible for the computer to run at a resolution that burns up the
    horizontal output transistor of the monitor. All modern digital and VGA
    display connectors run DDC for this reason. HDMI and DVI also use DDC to
    manage the display resolution settings.

    Hotplug detect is a pin on the HDMI and DVI connectors that allows the
    source device to sense when a display device has been connected to it.
    When a monitor is plugged into a source, the monitor provides a +5 VDC
    signal on the hotplug-detect pin. This causes the source device to
    initiate a DDC query to the set to ask about its display capabilities, as
    well as querying for high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP)
    compliance.

    Intra-pair skew
    Three things that can interfere with an HDMI connection are attenuation,
    crosstalk and skew. You're already familiar with attenuation and
    crosstalk. What about skew?

    HDMI uses three separate TMDS channels for the primary colors. Those
    digital RGB signals scream down the HDMI cable at a rate of 165 megapixels
    per second, or nearly 5 Gbps. At that speed, even a small change in the
    propagation characteristics of the copper can cause problems in the
    display.

    Intra-pair skew is defined as a difference in propagation between the +
    and - lines of a differential pair. Ideally, the + and - lines of a signal
    traveling down a twisted-pair will remain in sync. In reality, small
    differences in conductor length, twists or kinks in the cable, and other
    factors contribute to skew, causing the + and - conductors to deliver
    their signal at slightly different moments at the other end of the cable.
    This causes the data bit to get mangled and can cause it
    to fall out of the decision boundary for that bit, causing ones to turn
    into zeroes and vice versa.

    A typical HDMI cable has a skew characteristic of 34 picoseconds/meter
    (ps/m), based on the bit rates used for HDMI. Thus a 5 meter cable clocks
    in at 170 ps. At 10 meters, that jumps to 340 ps, greater than the maximum
    skew of 303 ps required by the manufacturers of the HDMI interface chips.
    This can translate into no picture or a very unreliable one. Fortunately,
    the manufacturers of the HDMI chipsets have been making improvements in
    their designs and are getting better at recovering weak, noisy or skewed
    signals.

    One way to extend the maximum distance of an HDMI connection is to use an
    HDCP-compliant repeater, an active device that regenerates the HDMI
    signal. This includes the current generation of HDMI home-theater source
    selector devices. In a case like this, the maximum distance is taken to be
    the distance from the HDMI source to the repeater, and then from the
    repeater to the TV set. Thus, a 5 meter cable can be used between the
    set-top box and the repeater, and another 5 meter cable used from the
    repeater to the TV set while maintaining proper HDMI specs for
    attenuation, crosstalk and skew.
    Content protection
    Developed by Intel and embraced by the Motion Picture Association of
    America, HDCP supports federal law requiring that all digital content be
    protected.

    When you plug an HDMI source into an HDMI display, the source device
    queries the display to see if it supports HDCP. If the device doesn't
    reply with a "yes" within a certain number of milliseconds, the source
    device assumes that the display is not compliant, and you'll get an
    "informative display" message stating so and suggesting that you use your
    analog ports, instead.

    In some cases, this can happen if the set-top box is plugged into an HDMI
    repeater/switcher/home-theater device and that device is not passing the
    HDCP transaction from the set-top to the set correctly - in such cases,
    bypassing the repeater. The HDCP spec considers all of these HDMI black
    boxes as repeaters because they essentially repeat the data between the
    set and the set-top box.

    Troubleshooting and tradeoffs
    While the latest versions of HDMI are more stable than their predecessors,
    they're still not trouble-free. (HDMI 1.3, released June 2006, is the most
    current; see the sidebar "HDMI Fact Sheet.")

    Most HDMI problems can be traced to HDCP issues. In their zeal to protect
    high-value content, HDMI's creators have produced a protocol that always
    errs on the side of shutting the connection down.

    The workaround involves tracing the source of the problem. Is it outdated
    firmware in the set-top, TV set or HDMI repeater? Is it a badly kinked or
    excessively long cable? Is the cable running too close to a source of EMI?
    Is the TV set tearing down the HDMI handshake when a different input is
    selected?

    The simplest fix is always to encourage customers to use their analog
    component connections (YPbPr) until the issue has been resolved.

    Component connections have less bandwidth than HDMI, so there might be a
    (very small) loss of quality on HD channels. On the other hand, the SD
    channels might actually look a little better. Given the very small
    difference in picture quality vs. all of the baggage that the HDMI port
    carries, it's a pretty good tradeoff.

    Barring that, cable techs can try swapping the cable with a known-good
    test cable. In addition, if there's an HDMI switcher or repeater in the
    path, bypass it temporarily and go directly from the set-top to the HDTV
    set.

    If this works, chances are that there's an HDCP issue between the set-top
    and the repeater. Either the repeater isn't "repeating" the HDCP info from
    the set to the set-top, or the set-top is running a version of HDCP prior
    to 1.2, which doesn't recognize active repeaters.* This can often be fixed
    via a firmware update to the set-top box. (For more troubleshooting tips,
    see the sidebars "HDMI FAQs" and "Troubleshooting HDMI.")

    Get a handle
    HDMI is here, isn't going away, and will likely become more prevalent as
    more subs upgrade to HDTV. It offers simplicity of installation wiring and
    great throughput from the set-top to other devices, but is not yet
    bug-free. HDMI cables themselves may have problems, and compatibility
    issues remain, largely with HDCP and older customer premises equipment
    (CPE) such as DVD players.

    If operators want to keep gold-plated subs happy and be prepared for the
    next video wave, it makes sense for their technical teams to get a handle
    on HDMI as soon as possible.

    Joanne Bandlow is a network engineer for Time Warner Cable. Reach her at
    joanne.bandlow@twcable.com. The views expressed in the article are those
    of the author and not necessarily those of Time Warner Cable.



    Sidebar 1: HDMI FAQs
    The cable box won't work with my HDMI cable, but my DVD player does. Is
    the cable box is broken?

    No. Currently DVD players do not require an HDCP-compliant display, but
    the set-top box does. If the box doesn't see a valid crypto key from the
    display, it won't work.

    Will I get a better picture from HDMI than from my analog YPbPr ports?

    It depends largely on the type of display. If your display is natively
    digital (LCD, DLP, plasma), then you might. If you have a CRT, you may or
    may not because the CRT has to convert a digital signal back to analog
    anyway, and the fewer analog-digital-analog conversion stages, the better.

    My screen occasionally pops up the "unauthorized" message when viewing via
    HDMI. Then everything goes back to normal, and my program continues. Why?

    The HDMI spec requires a continuous dialog between the source and the TV
    set in order to manage content protection. For instance, the encryption
    status of the picture is checked on every single frame, so this decision
    is being made 30 times a second. If your HDMI connection is marginal (poor
    cable, too-long cable, kinked cable), that dialog might suffer from
    occasional interruptions, and your set goes into "informative display"
    (denied) mode. The problem clears when the signal re-establishes itself.

    How long of an HDMI cable can I use?

    HDMI uses TMDS signaling. As a general rule, TMDS signals will travel over
    typical Category-1 HDMI cables reliably for up to 5 meters (15 feet). Some
    of the better Category-2 cables may perform at longer lengths, but all
    cables eventually cause distortions over length, so the rule of thumb is
    KISS (Keep it shorter, silly). Besides that, the newer Cat-2 cables are
    intended to enable higher bit rates, and the faster the speed, the shorter
    the maximum distance.

    Sidebar 2: HDMI Fact Sheet
    HDMI 1.1 (released May 2004)
    • Color palette of 24 bits per pixel
    • Maximum bitrate of 4.9 Gbps and 165 megapixels/second

    HDMI 1.2 (released August 2005)
    • Added support for SACD audio
    • Added support for PCI-Express signals
    • Added RGB (PC) colorspace (TV uses YCbCr colorspace)

    HDMI 1.3 (released June 2006)
    • Increases single link bandwidth to 340 MHz
    • Supports a maximum bitrate of 10.2 Gbps
    • Adds 30-bit, 36-bit and 40-bit "deep color" palette support
    • Increases colorspace for wider color palette
    • Supports new HDMI mini connector for camcorders and other small devices
    • Supports automatic lip-sync capability
    • Supports new lossless compressed audio formats

    For more on HDMI, DVI and TMDS, see http://www.hdmi.org and http://www.ddwg.org. For
    info on HDCP, check out http://www.digital-cp.com.

    Sidebar 3: Troubleshooting HDMI
    The latest versions of HDMI are more stable than their predecessors, but
    they're not yet trouble-free. Most of the HDMI problems stem from HDCP
    issues. The simplest fix is to encourage the sub to use analog component
    connections (YPbPr) until the issue has been resolved. Otherwise:
    • Swap the existing cable with a known-good test cable if possible.
    • Remove any HDMI switch boxes or repeaters and try again.
    • Restart the TV, then power-cycle the set-top box in this order to force
    a new HDCP query from the box to the set. Sometimes the hotplug detect
    scheme doesn't work properly, and this procedure helps to identify this
    situation.
    • As a last resort, flip the cable around. I've had one case where a cable
    exhibited a defect that caused it to be "directional." Apparently one end
    of the cable was exhibiting excessive crosstalk and only worked when it
    was plugged into the end that had a more forgiving chipset inside the
    device!

    Warning: An older or poorly made HDMI cable might not work correctly on
    HDMI 1.3 because of the increased clock and throughput speed. Look for
    "HDMI 2.0 1080p capable" cables to insure compatibility with the newer
    specs.

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