The latest amendment to the HDMI 2.1a specification, which adds power over HDMI, will allow us to use much longer cables, separating our equipment from our displays (via HD flat panels).
The more data you pump through a passive cable, the shorter that cable will need to be to preserve the data passing through it. This is the case with HDMI 2.1a compared to its much older cousin, HDMI 2.0. Older HDMI cables could go up to 30 feet or more while maintaining full bandwidth and connection quality, but HDMI 2.1a represents a huge increase in bandwidth and data requirements over those older versions. , and often reaches a maximum of 10 feet, notes the cable manufacturer. Cable Matters.
That’s where Power Over HDMI comes in. For HDMI 2.1a to go further than that 10 foot distance, you need a Power Over HDMI cable. The HDMI cables behind most of our TVs are passive, and today’s active cables require a separate power source fed from a third connector to achieve these longer lengths. Power over HDMI will supply power through the HDMI connector itself, instead of adding the extra complexity of a separate connector. CablePower HDMI cables will always, like active HDMI cables, be unidirectional, meaning there is a defined source and destination rather than the two being interchangeable as they are with passive HDMI cables.
Right now, there aren’t really any devices that offer PoE, so that’s something we’ll see coming to TVs and devices over the next couple of years. When the material starts coming out, you’ll need an HDMI cable that supports CablePower, as well as a source device – game console, set-top box, or Blu-ray player – that also supports it.
For most of us, that’s not a problem. 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 looking to run a long cable from their PC in one room to their TV in another, this will end up being useful technology. But it will also add additional complexity to the whole process of hooking up new hardware; be sure to check out our article on how HDMI 2.1a made a previously universal cable standard anything but.
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