It seems like only yesterday we were fumbling around with a multitude of analogue cables to connect to the back of the television. It hasn’t completely gone away – the Wii, 360 and PS3 game consoles are still sold with analogue cables – but the HDMI standard has been hugely successful in simplifying the modern home entertainment setup.

Since 2003, HDMI has been the best solution for connecting digital devices to high resolution displays. With the ability to carry HD video and digital audio, a basic entertainment setup of HDTV and Blu-Ray player or satellite receiver can often be connected via a single cable – simplicity itself. Today, a wide selection of HDMI cables is available to connect a huge variety of devices together. For example, most of the top smartphones and tablets have a Mini-HDMI connector, so you can project your content on the big screen. Most laptops have the standard HDMI output, for connecting to televisions or monitors for a versatile dual-screen workstation.

Many portable devices are now choosing the MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) standard, which is typically a USB connection. It works in conjunction with HDMI to allow charging of mobile devices while transferring HD video. Together with DisplayPort and Apple’s Thunderbolt, the cable market is still confusing, but with DisplayPort designed to compliment HDMI and Apple beginning to offer HDMI ports in their laptops for the first time, consumers should be able to buy HDMI devices with confidence.

The beauty of the digital cable is that there should be no loss in picture and audio quality, although this is not always the case over very long distances. However, it is still essential that you check what kind of HDMI cable is required. While HDMI connections have not changed in appearance, they have been upgraded several times since 2003, to cope with the ever-increasing demands for higher resolution. The most recent 1.4 standard allows for the stereoscopic 3D resolutions demand by modern 3DTVs, as well as 1080p at 120Hz (for gaming monitors). HDMI 2.0 is currently being finalised, aiming to support the needs of the latest 4K televisions (3840×2160 at 60Hz) available in 2013. By continuing to update the specifications, HDMI looks to remain the standard for many years to come.

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