Posted Wed Jan 30, 2019 at 03:21 PM PST by Michael S. Palmer
As home theater gear becomes ever more capable in terms of resolutions and color gamuts and audiophile soundtracks, it's important to make sure your accessories are also up to the job. HDMI cables are the arteries and veins of any home theater. But if you've recently upgraded to 4K HDR video, you may run into trouble using older cables that worked perfectly fine for Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D.
For most folks, an Amazon Basics or Monoprice High-Speed HDMI Cable offers enough bandwidth for 4K HDR movies, streaming, and gaming. In our experience, there's no need to spend a lot of money on shorter HDMI cables, and those selling $100 6' cables are snake oil salesmen.
However, bouncing between display and projector reviews here at High-Def Digest, I've learned that lower-quality "High Speed" HDMI cables struggle to produce clean, error-free signals over 25 or 30 feet when you combine 4K and HDR and higher frame rates. (In my experience, you start to get HDCP 2.2 errors, static, or picture dropout.) If you do find and pick up a long-ass HDMI cable that works as intended, it's a heavy beast of a thing that's a chore to run through walls or bend around A/V cabinets.
Celerity Technologies offers a simple, compact solution for anyone who needs a 35-foot or longer HDMI cables. Dubbed Universal Fiber Optic HDMI, it's a fiber-based HDMI system with full support for 4K/HDR/60hz up to 1000-feet. It's slim, light-weight, and easy to install and run through walls, but there's a catch. My 50-foot sample kit costs $425, which is seven times more expensive than a 50' Monoprice Essentials CL2 Active High-Speed HDMI cable.
But I suppose Celerity's pitch here is that UFO fiber is easier to install at longer lengths, smaller, lighter, and hopefully more reliable.
Setting up a Celerity UFO HDMI Cable is as easy as using banana plugs with your favorite speakers, but, as with any home theater wiring, challenges arise depending on where you want to run the cable itself. If you need to go in-wall, you better hope you have access to an attic, crawl space, or empty conduit piping. Given the way home theater rooms are designed for future upgrades, this is often the case.
When running the Celerity UFO cables, Celerity recommends utilizing a fiber optic cable pulling eye along with some sort of pulling lubricant; they also caution against pinching the cable and/or pulling directly from any of the connectors.
Since our time with the UFO HDMI Cable was temporary, I left mine bundled behind my media stand and/or under a rug as needed. The great news is that these fiber optic cables are bi-directional so you don't have to worry about running it in a specific direction.
Once installed, simply connect the T (transmitting) and R (receiving) Connector Cables to the cable using the provided UFO Couplers (see above). The Connector Cables are shorter-run fiber cables with HDMI 2.0 terminals as well as USB-A connectors. The T cable goes into your AV Receiver or Media Player (USB power is optional here -- use if needed). The R cable goes into your TV or projector (USB power is required here).
My time with our loaner Celerity UFO HDMI Cable was a positive one. From 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with HDR10 to 4K/60Hz Apple TV with Dolby Vision to Blu-ray 3D, everything I passed from my AV Receiver to my displays played back clearly and with no digital errors... which is everything you need from an HDMI cable. Install it and forget it.
The only drawback here is pricing. Is a Celerity UFO HDMI Cable worth paying seven times more than an HDMI cable?
For most folks, no. Most of us only need short 3-9' HDMI cables where, as mentioned above, we won't have much trouble even with cheapo HDMI cables. But if you're the type of home theater and media room enthusiast where your main display or projector is 30+ feet away from your sound gear or other sources, or you're in a situation where running a thick, heavy HDMI cable doesn't quite work for you, it might be time to invest in fiber. It's certainly a high-quality product worthy of consideration.
I just wish it didn't cost so much.
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