Posted Tue Oct 24, 2017 at 11:16 AM PDT by Michael S. Palmer
Spend enough time as a Home Theater Enthusiast and you're guaranteed to learn -- the hard way -- that not all HDMI cables are created equally. This was true in the first days of 1080p. True in the first days of 3D. And even more true in the days of 4K/HDR when handshake and HDCP 2.2 compatibility issues will shut down your player or streaming capabilities.
For shorter HDMI runs -- 3ft to 25ft -- most 4K-rated HDMI cables from companies like Amazon Basics or Monoprice or Rocketfish will work perfectly well. Heck, I've gotten excellent 4K/HDR/60fps signals out of the no-name 3ft cable included with my DirecTV DVR. I would actually argue that, for these shorter runs, far too many folks are OVERpaying for HDMI cables, succumbing to snake oil and big box store sales pitches out of fear.
But this changes when your display or projector is far away from your gear.
Jump past 25ft or 35ft, and everything changes. Read various Forums or Amazon reviews and you'll see dozens of frustrated folks who have tried multiple cables only to suffer handshake issues along with picture dropout or snowy pixelation.
I first experienced this when reviewing the Epson 6040/5040UB projectors after a 35ft "High Speed" cable, that was perfectly fine running 1080p in 3D, balked when presented with 4K HDR sources. Even certain devices will add to your troubles -- I love the Roku Ultra, but without a great cable, you'll get a pink screen o' death HDCP 2.2 error.
So what should you do if you need to a long 4K / HDR HDMI cable for a remote projector or display?
There are a few options, of course. You can stick with HDMI -- Monoprice sells cables that run up to 330ft and cost up to around $160 (we haven't tried these out in person, but if YOU have, let us know about your experience in the comments).
Or you can try fiber optic HDMI cables.
As you can see in the above preview & setup video, Celerity Technologies just sent us a new 50-foot fiber optic HDMI cable to help me out with my forthcoming Optoma UHZ65 4K laser projector review. Fiber optic HDMI cables are slimmer than copper-based HDMI cables AND capable of supporting 18Gbps, 4K/60, 4:4:4: color, and HDR/Dolby Vision up to 1,000 feet without any loss of signal.
To be clear, fiber optic cables won't help with poor signals, nor are they cheap. The 50ft version we're reviewing, which you can buy on Amazon via the link below, costs $350, while a 200ft version will set you back $800 and the 1,000ft flagship cable costs a whopping $1,800 (or about the price of a 75" entry-level VIZIO display.)
Setting up your Celerity Technologies Fiber Optic HDMI cable is a breeze.
1) Run your cable. These cables are directional, so you want the "T" connectors to be at your source, and the "R" connectors to be at your display or projector. CT fiber optic cabling is rated for in-wall installations, but I would also recommend these for anyone who needs a more temporary setup -- the cable is so thin it disappears under rugs!
2) Connect the "R" end of the fiber optic cable to the "R" HDMI connector and plug that into your display's HDCP 2.2 and/or ARC HDMI port. Then Plug in the USB power plug to an open USB port on your display. If your display doesn't have one, you can use any 5v plug (like an iPhone connector).
3) Connect the "T" end of the fiber optic cable to the "T" HDMI connector to your source component (AVR, Blu-ray player, etc.). You'll note there is also a USB power plug on this end as well. Per the instructions, this is an optional plug for when your source component doesn't include power from the HDMI port directly. (If a blue light illuminates, you're good to go; if there's no light, use the optional USB plug.)
Simple, right? It took me less than five minutes.
We're only 24 hours into our review, so I can't really comment on the performance nor guarantee that these fiber optic cables will work for you. That said, at 50ft, this is the longest cable I've run with 4K/HDR and 4K/Dolby Vision content and there have been no hiccups. Even the semi-problematic Roku Ultra is running without any HDCP 2.2 pink screens o' death. So far, so good, as they say.
Basically, if I don't have to touch this cable again while it's on loan, if I can completely forget about it, then it's going to get a High Recommended rating.
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