Over the past few weeks you’ve probably seen articles in the industry press that HDMI Licensing, (HDMI®), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL®) have announced HDMI 4K certification testing for cables. I’ve received numerous emails from dealers and reps alike, asking “What will this mean to us?”
Let me respond by saying, “This is fantastic news!”
Since 2009, when I helped PPC launch the Perfect Path line of Locking HDMI cables, I have believed in the concept of “Trust, but verify.” That’s when I struck up a relationship with Jeff Boccaccio at DPL Labs and Perfect Path became a DPL Labs Member, and received the DPL Labs Seal of Approval for several of our the Perfect Path cables. As many of you probably recall, this was a tumultuous time when HDMI announced that cables could no longer have version numbers (i.e.: 1.3a, 1.3b, 1.4, etc.), but instead must only refer to “Standard Speed” or “High Speed” performance. At the time, HDMI Licensing only required that cable manufacturers submit to ATC (Authorized Testing Center) approval for verification, and again, as many integrators know, this was no guarantee that cables would “work” and provide consistent performance with the sources, switchers, and displays they were installing.
Then the press articles started, claiming “there wasn’t any difference” between the cheapest and the most expensive cables. It was all just digital “ones and zeros” – just buy the cheapest cables – the pricing difference was all just cosmetics and marketing hype. But installers and integrators knew differently. They were the ones dealing with the pain in the field – stuff just wasn’t working well together. In fact, just passing the eye-pattern and bandwidth tests is just one of many factors that ensure full performance: shielding (a major issue when you install systems in racks with fans, power supplies and other components – all of which egress untold amounts of RF and EMI), durability (especially when you pull a cable through the wall), the mechanical construction of the connector (have you ever had an HDMI tip bend and break?), and the fact that the HDMI spec for port retention (grip, or hold) is only 8 – 9 newton lbs. (that’s 3 -4 lbs. to us) was an inadequate spec.
Although DPL Labs membership and ongoing certification is not cheap, I thought it was essential that we could assure dealers that they would not be “installing a service call” when they used our cables. That investment paid off – for Perfect Path – and for our dealers. Since 2009 – and after selling thousands and thousands of cables, our defective rate was miniscule – less than 0.1% – and most returns were due to physical abuse during installation.
I can tell you first hand that building a quality cable that lives up to the best performance guarantee is not easy. In fact fewer than a dozen companies have become DPL members and have been able to pass Jeff’s genuinely difficult performance tests.
So the announcement by HDMI and UL that they too, will join in with a testing program that ensures that you, the installer and integrator can DEMAND that the cables you install are not a self-proclaimed promise by the company that sells them to you – but are third-party tested and certified – which is something that DPL Labs has been doing for over seven years.
To wit – THX engaged (with little fanfare) last year with their THX 4K UHD Certification process for HDMI cables. Their testing was very rigorous and included mechanical and construction tests as well as the necessary electrical tests. At Future Ready Solutions, we are proud to sell the first two (and only) series of THX Certified 4K UHD Cables – both made by Australia-based Kordz: the R.3 Rack-Optimized HDMI Cables, and the EVS Series Enthusiast HDMI Cables.
The real question concerning HDMI and UL’s testing is that they publish their testing criteria, so that their programs are not a “rubber stamp” marketing tool, but rather a true performance criteria. What we as installers and integrators need to know is that all these different companies’ tests are equally rigorous and stringently based on science – or the whole testing concept will become a farce.
So my (and your) perspective on all of the new testing agencies should be “BRING IT ON”. Let’s separate the rookies from pros once and for all – because 18Gbps, 4K, 16-bit 4:4:4 uncompressed 60 fps video is here NOW and we should all be selling and installing True 4K – not Faux-K, or NO K as many will discover over the coming months.
The bottom line for you, the installer and integrator, is soon you will not be buying cables from companies that build products based on promises and prices – but on verifiable performance.
Here’s are the links to the HDMI and UL press releases, and a link to the THX and DPL Labs websites.
Next month, we’ll discuss the ticking time bombs you’ve been installing with “Redmere” and “HDBase-T” based products and that two clear winners are in the market with fiber-based product that really work at lengths to 1000 feet.
Read the press announcement from UL® Laboratories:
Here’s the press announcement from HDMI LLC:
Information about DPL Labs:
Information about THX 4K/UHD Certification:
Eric Bodley is founder and president of Future Ready Solutions, a national distributor of best-in-class connectivity products that utilizes local independent rep firms for their go-to-market execution. Learn more about Future Ready Solutions at www.FutureReadySolutions.com or by calling (239) 948-3789