You have to admit that with the introduction of HDMI 1.4 specifications and all the changes on the hardware side with the release of new 3D TVs and 3D BluRay players every month, it feels more and more like you have to be a rocket scientist to get your 3D home-theater system up and running. If you are wondering what HDMI cable you need for your 3D TV and 3D hometheater system, look no further. This guide will explain everything you need to know about 3D HDMI cables to ensure that your 3D hometheater works flawlessly.
3D compatibility of various types of HDMI cables
These are the original HDMI cables when HDMI first came into being. They are tested only to 75Mhz or 2.25 Gbps of bandwidth. This is pretty old and outdated and we would not recommend buying these cables. They are only capable of carrying 720p and 1080i video content, so even regular 1080p content is unsupported.
3D Compatibility: Obviously Standard HDMI 1.3 cables (Category 1) are not 3D compatible.
Standard HDMI cable with Ethernet
This type of HDMI cable has been introduced more recently. While it features the new integrated Ethernet capability as specified in the HDMI 1.4 specification, keep in mind that these have the same speed ratings as Standard HDMI cables as listed above, so they only support 720p and 1080i video content. You will be able to avail of the integrated Ethernet connectivity only if both devices that are connected using this cable are HDMI Ethernet Channel enabled.
3D Compatibility: Just like the Standard HDMI 1.3 Category 1 cables, these cables will not support 3D content and 3D ready TVs and devices.
HDMI High speed (Category 2) cables
High-speed Category 2 HDMI cables are tested and rated up to 340Mhz or 10.2 Gbps of bandwidth. This is more than enough bandwidth for both regular 1080p HD content as well as the new Full HD 3D 1080p Framepacked 3D specification. High-speed category 2 HDMI cables were part of the HDMI 1.3 specification and most folks who own an HDMI cable at this point (if purchased in the last couple of years) probably own this class of HDMI cable. These cables are also capable of supporting newer display technologies as stipulated in the HDMI 1.4 specification such as 4K resolution and Deep Color.
3D Compatibility: What might be surprising to some is that Category 2 High-speed HDMI cables are 3D compatible and will work with HDMI 1.4 devices, so you don’t have to buy a new HDMI 1.4 cable for your 3D home-theater system if you already have these cables lying around. However, one caveat is that these Category 2 HDMI 1.3 cables do not support some of the newer features that were specified in the HDMI 1.4 specification, such as an integrated Ethernet channel within the cable and the integration of a Return audio channel (See our HDMI 1.4 Guide for more details). So the upshot is that if all you want is to connect your 3D TV to your 3D Receiver or 3D BluRay player, only for transferring the 3D video content, then you can get away with a simple Category 2 High speed HDMI cable. Keep in mind that if your devices supports the integrated Ethernet feature, you will not be able to make use of it using High-Speed HDMI Cables. It should be noted that the Return Audio feature in HDMI 1.4 will work will all existing HDMI cables and does not require a special type of HDMI cable.
HDMI High speed cables with Ethernet
These cables are identical to HDMI High-speed cables in terms of their bandwidth rating. As a result they are compatible with 1080p 2D and 3D content and even support all the new features in the HDMI 1.4 specifications. This cable also features an integrated Ethernet channel capable of 100Mbps data transfer. This will work only if the 2 devices being connected are HDMI Ethernet Channel enabled. The HDMI high speed cable is the only cable that supports ALL features of the HDMI 1.4 specification. So if you want absolute peace of mind, you can just buy a few of these and be assured that these will work with all HDMI 1.4 and 1.3 devices (HDMI 1.4 is backwards compatible with HDMI 1.3).
3D Compatibility: As mentioned, this cable is compatible with all 3D specifications as listed in the HDMI 1.4 specification.
Hopefully this article has helped clarify the different types of HDMI cables that are currently available to the consumer. For your 3D TV you should look at getting one of the two High Speed HDMI cable as they are the only ones capable of transmitting 3D content. If your 3D hometheater devices have integrated Ethernet channel capabilities for internet connectivity and sharing, then you will want to buy a high speed HDMI cable with integrated Ethernet. Otherwise, a regular High Speed HDMI cable will work just fine.