Do I Need a HDMI Cable

pkarm's picture

I have TW and the hdtv box my son is trying to tell me that I need to get a HDMI cable in order to get the full affect of HDTV. I told him he is nuts that is what the HDTV box is for, so I guess the question is do I or don't I?

Posted January 7, 2010 6:13am in
Willscary's picture

Component cable + digital

Component cable + digital optical cable will also give you HD signals. The HDMI cable passes both audio and video, where you need the two cables as an alternative. Component cables are analog, while HDMI are digital. With HDMI, the digital signal stays digital throughout the process, but with component, it is converted to analog, then back to digital, which many believe can degrade the signal.

On the other hand, HDMI cables can be finicky and degrade over time, while component cables will last a long time and take more abuse.

Here is an article written quite a while ago that may be of some help:,review-29615.html

I hope this helps.


FoxCitiesTV's picture

I would say if you can, use

I would say if you can, use an HDMI cable. But do NOT buy them in a local retail store. You will get hosed on price. The cheapest HDMI cable I've found locally is $15. I buy cables online. I just bought a pack of four HDMI cables, with better construction than the cheap $15 cables in local stores, for $9 shipped. I usually recommend looking at, or is also very good, but I've never bought HDMI cables there. (Did buy a couple 1000-ft pullboxes of coax and ethernet cable there and they are fantastic!)

That said, the component cables Time Warner issues with their HD DVRs are extremely nice and will serve you well. I have no qualms with those whatsoever. I just find it a little cleaner to have one slim black cable going from the flat-screen to the box than two big fat grey ones.

One note if you do go from component to HDMI cables on the Time Warner boxes... the first time I switched, I found I had no sound. If you get that, go into the settings menu. There will be one audio option where you can select HDMI audio. If that doesn't go automatically, you can set it there. I think it doesn't switch automatically if you still have component cables connected. I connected my HDMI cable to my living room TV before disconnecting the component cables, and I had to set the HDMI audio. On my basement TV, I disconnected the component and then added the HDMI, and it worked right away. Might be intentional, might be voodoo. No idea. Just letting you know so you don't freak out if you don't hear any sound.

Aaron's picture

Personally, I use component

Personally, I use component for both of my cable boxes. I find that I'm able to switch channels quicker between (720p and 1080i channels) if I'm using component. I also used to have issues with non-HD channels dropping off on HDMI, but always working with component.

If your HD box came with component (which it should have for free), I would just use that and be happy!

Don's picture

My set top box came with

My set top box came with component cable (free) and I'm very happy with it. Its over 4 years now and no need for TWC serviceman.....

SeanM402's picture

When I had TWC I used an HDMI

When I had TWC I used an HDMI cable right from the get go (only one cable and it was supposed to be the best). At one point me and my wife got in a heated debate on how much better HDMI is compared to Component. She said there is a big difference in picture quality and I kept saying I bet you can't tell the difference. Ultimately this ended up with me scouring the house for some component cable so we could see if we could tell the difference. All I can say is with the TWC box and my TV it was night and day with the differences. I haven't tried it with my Directv box but I think I will by tomorrow to see if there is a noticeable difference.

Willscary's picture

The two cables run different

The two cables run different formats, and as such, they need to be calibrated differently. The component cables go through D/A and A/D conversions and are affected by the converters and the process.

More and more, you are seeing TVs that have separate calibration settings for each input for this very reason. I actually have ALWAYS had to turn down the color saturation on HDMI cables or the picture looks unnaturally vibrant. On the other hand, component USUALLY has a red push and is weak in green. The green is not really noticable to people, but red push is a killer and in my opinion, is what is most likely to ruin a picture. I hate when people look flushed all the time!

Just my opinion!


FoxCitiesTV's picture

We just got a new 32" 720p

We just got a new 32" 720p Apex LCD for the living room, and it has different calibrations for each input, which I love. The old 26" CRT Insignia HDTV I had didn't do that (or have HDMI) and the difference is very noticeable. I'm glad I can finally use my old HD DVD player for upconverting DVDs (until I can swing another Blu-ray player!)

Aaron's picture

I've got a fresh box of HDMI

I've got a fresh box of HDMI cables arriving today from Monoprice. I'll have to give them a try instead of componenet to see what I come up with.

FoxCitiesTV's picture

I picked up a four-pack of

I picked up a four-pack of HDMI cables from, and I have both flat-screens hooked up by HDMI now. In my opinion, the picture is much crisper and I had to do less tweaking to the picture settings.

Willscary's picture

Mark wrote: "In my opinion,

Mark wrote: "In my opinion, the picture is much crisper and I had to do less tweaking to the picture settings."

Exactly! I just set up a 32" Vizio 720p for a friend of mine ($347 @ Sam's Club) and was amazed at how close to perfect the HDMI inputs were. My adjustments were very minor other than turning down the overall saturation. There was NO red push at all and green was also very close to perfect. Only blue was a bit weak and needed to be tweaked. Then the entire spectrum of color was reduced by about 10% and we were spot on.

The same set was off by a lot on component, but it was still correctable with fairly large adjustments.

My 3 year old Vizio was nowhere near as close out of the box as this new set was. By the way, the WORST panels for me have been LG plasma sets. I have done 3, all in the last year, and all were beyond correctable. None had separate RGB adjustments and none could be made to look really good. All were in the $2,000 range.

These are just my observations. I am not a professional calibrator, but I have set up at least 50 modern flat panel TVs and monitors for friends and relatives.


FoxCitiesTV's picture

Really the only adjustments I

Really the only adjustments I had to do on my Apex LCD was trying to cheat up the brightness a bit without looking completely washed out. It's a cheap panel we were given, and it'll do until I can afford something better, but it's definitely not as bright and vibrant as my 26" 1080p Vizio downstairs.

Aaron's picture

Do you guys notice any delay

Do you guys notice any delay in changing channels when using HDMI (as in, the TV re-syncs to the 720p or 1080i signal?)

FoxCitiesTV's picture

A little, but I think it

A little, but I think it varies by TV. I noticed it on component as well. I think you can get around that by setting up the DVR to only display 720p OR 1080i and the box will convert up or down accordingly. On my older CRT HDTV, it was 720p native and 1080i channels looked like the colors were subtly shifting constantly. Set the DVR to only output 720p and that stopped, and since it wasn't flipping between resolutions, there was no blip. I don't mind the half-second blip between different-resolution channels though, personally.

Willscary's picture

My box does not output

My box does not output native...I use the Dish DTVpal DVR. I set the box to 720p and it switches just fine. I also have a Samsung panel that is several years old. It also switches quickly. I will say that the Charter Cable setups that I have worked on take a long time to switch channels. (I am OTA only).


jared's picture

just bought a new 46 hdtv

just bought a new 46 hdtv with 1080p by my cable box onle has settings for 720p and 1080i witch setting should i use?

FoxCitiesTV's picture

If you're setting up a Time

If you're setting up a Time Warner Cable box, I would set it to display both 720p and 1080i.


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