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Do I Need Special Cables for 4K?

Dec 24, 2018

Contrary to the beliefs of many, there is more to enjoying 4K content than simply purchasing a 4K-capable television. To truly appreciate a 4K experience, you need 4K hardware and a 4K content source. Today we are going to delve deeper into what kind of hardware you need to experience 4K, and the best places to find 4K content in 2018. 

Most people tend to inherently understand that to watch 4K content, they need a 4K screen. Now, if you have followed our blog at all, you know that we recommend a screen that supports both 4K and HDR. Luckily, if you are in the market for a new screen, all you have to do is keep an eye out for the Ultra HD Premium™ logo. If a screen has been endorsed with that logo, that means it delivers a premium 4K and HDR experience. Similarly, a mobile device that has been endorsed with a Mobile HDR Premium™ logo will deliver a premium, HDR capable image quality.

However, for a true 4K viewing experience, there is more hardware needed than just a screen. The crucial component that most people forget is actually a simple cable. High-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) cables are the cables that connect other pieces of hardware like set-top boxes and gaming consoles to your television. If that cable is only rated up to 1080p, then it is not capable of delivering the 4K signal you need to enjoy true 4K content. Luckily, a new HDMI cable really isn’t that expensive. Be sure to get a 4K-rated cable if you are buying a new 4K television. 

There are several different types of HDMI cable ratings, which can make finding the right one challenging for those who aren’t in the know. HDMI cables that are rated as “standard” can reliably transmit 1080p and 720p video. A cable rated as “high speed” can reliably transmit a 1080p signal. If you want a 4K signal, you need to look for an HDMI cable that offers a “high speed HDMI” connection. That means that the cable is able to consistently handle a 4K signal. 

In order to actually experience 4K content, you need every step of the hardware chain to be rated to handle a 4K signal. If you add more steps, those also need to be 4K-rated. For example, if you are using a game console, you need one of the high-end ones that offers 4K and HDR. You also need a 4K-rated HDMI cable and a 4K screen. Finally, you need to make sure the content is also 4K. 

Just a few years ago the selection of 4K content was relatively sparse compared to the choices available today. In 2018, it has actually become really easy to find 4K content. For example, Amazon Prime, Google Play and Netflix offer 4K content. You can purchase your favorite shows and films on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and plenty of digital download shops like iTunes also offer most of their content in 4K. Just remember to look at the resolution of the content you are downloading/streaming before assuming you are getting a 4K experience. 

The constant evolution of audiovisual technology can make it challenging to keep up with. But, paying attention to interoperability can make everything flow so much more easily in your pursuit and enjoyment of a premium 4K experience! 

If you are in the market for home media equipment, and you want the best experience available, then you want the Ultra HD Premium experience. Keep an eye out for the Ultra HD Premium™ logo when shopping. Trust us, after you watch your first movie, you will understand why everyone has been raving about 4K.  And, don’t forget that the Mobile HDR Premium™ logo ensures you’ll get the highest quality visuals on a mobile device, so keep an eye out for that when shopping for your mobile devices as well!