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HDMI cables are about to get a big upgrade to make your life easier

DisplayPort vs HDMI
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Connecting the best TVs and best soundbars with HDMI cables is about to get a new feature that should make your life a lot easier. Dubbed HDMI Cable Power, the feature allows devices like Blu-ray players and streaming video players to power HMDI cables over a certain length.

That's a big change from how this works currently, where you need to connect a USB-C cable with the HDMI cable for lengthier connections. HDMI Cable Power will do away with that requirement.

HDMI Cable Power has gotten the OK from the HDMI Licensing Administrator (LA), the organization that oversees the launch of new HDMI products.

All that said, you won’t need HDMI Cable Power for consoles or devices located right next to your TV. But it will be useful for anyone connecting devices from one room to a display in another room.

In terms of technical specs, new cables with the feature can draw up to 300 mA from the 5V supply of the source — enough to maintain signal integrity over long distances. The HDMI LA hasn’t quite said how far yet those distances are, and there are some unique limitations on it. 

For one, you’ll need both an HDMI cable that supports Cable Power and a device that supports Cable Power — of which, none yet exist. 

For another, you’ll need to be careful about how you connect those cables. According to the HDMI LA: “One end of the cable is specifically labeled for attachment to the HDMI Source (transmitting) device, and the other end of the cable must be attached to the HDMI Sink (receiving) device.”

According to the HDMI LA, manufacturers will start producing HDMI cables with Cable Power in all four of the major HDMI cord types currently available: Standard, High Speed, Premium High Speed and Ultra High Speed. (The latter of which is the one that supports HDMI 2.1a.)

The good news is that any HDMI cable with Cable Power will work like any standard HDMI cable — you can just plug it in and it will work like normal. Even better, the cables will support ARC and eARC, which is nice if you need to connect an external sound system.

There’s no word yet on when the new version of the cables will start to roll out but we’ll be keeping an eye out for them… and the inevitable eye-rolling they cause for folks who now have yet another specification they need to look for on a pack of HDMI cables. 

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.

  • ginandbacon
    This sounds a lot like fiber HDMI cables, which can have much longer runs than copper and fiber is also unidirectional with a source and display end. That and you can run HDMI o er a CAT5 matrix but those are obviously not cheap. Also, is this truly for 2.1 cables? The HDMI forum has said HDMI 2.0 no longer exists and companies can sell devices with 2.0b HDMI ports labeled as 2.1 even if they have zero 2.1 "features". Yes, everything that was mandatory for 2.1 is now optional and its up to device makers to list the true capabilities.
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