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Do I Need A 4k HDMI Cable?

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*It's Friday and I decided to see how many hip hop shredders I can reference in this article.*

UHD, 4k, 8k, 24k magic?? Deciphering which is a new TV spec and which is an absolute bopper by Bruno Mars is hard. With video technologies growing so rapidly, it's tricky to know which HDMI cable is right for you. Luckily we're here to make buying a cable as pain-free as possible. Figuring out what HDMI cable is right for you is a 2-step process.

Step 1: Ensure That Your Hardware Is 4k-Ready

The first thing you'll want to check is your hardware. Make sure that both your TV and input device are 4k compatible. One mistake we see allll the time is someone getting a new 4k TV, plugging in their (non-4k compatible) Xbox One and not getting a 4k signal. Then they go online and complain about their new TV. It's a real dilemma, but luckily you are reading this blog and won't contribute to the social media cesspool. Now let's get learnt'. If you have a 4k TV & device, click here to jump down to the next section. If you need to upgrade to a 4k compatible device here are some top options:

4k Compatible Gaming Systems:

xbox one x 4k hdr

Microsoft's first native 4k gaming console is a beast. Beefier specs give the Xbox One X more processing power & graphics capabilities than the PS4 Pro. And while it will cost you a few more dollars than the PlayStation, it can play both 4k/UHD Blu-rays and supports Dolby Atmos for better sound.

PS4 Pro 4k

The PS4 Pro has less power and extras than the new Xbox. You'll get more exclusive 1-player games, but with no built-in 4k Blu-Ray player this isn't a great option if you like to buy physical movies. It will stream at 4k with no problem, though. If you couldn't tell, I've always been an Xbox kinda guy. There's nothing like sitting down with a crisp glass gin & juice and playing some Halo 2 with your pals.

4k Compatible Streaming Devices:

Roku Streaming Stick+ 4k

For high-quality 4k & HDR streaming in an easy to use package, look no further. Outside of the poor voice control, there isn't much to complain about with this streamer. For $60 you'll get access to Roku's entire catalog of 4k HDR apps.

Amazon Fire Stick 4k

Coming in $10 less than the Roku Stick+, the Amazon version is a must-have if you already use an Echo. The Alexa integration is seamless and the 4k streaming is crisp. Compared to Roku, the selection of 4k movies is worse, but this is an incredible value. Now you just need the new Alexa enabled microwave so she can play movies and make your popcorn. While all of your friends are having kids and progressing in their careers, you'll get the last laugh. Automated movie night for 1.

Step 2: Make Sure You Are Playing 4k Content

Even if all your hardware (TV, cable, video device) is 4k compatible, you'll have to make sure the content you are playing is 4k. No matter what you do, you won't be able to get The Office in 4k on Netflix. It only streams in classic HD. Here's a list of current 4k streaming titles on Netflix. Seeing Jesse Pinkman curse in 4k seems like a good reason to rewatch Breaking Bad if you ask me. Bring on the next episode. And even if most of the content you watch isn't in 4k, you'll want to make sure your HDMI cable is capable of handling it. Every day more 4k streaming options are popping up and eventually, you'll want to watch Deadpool in 4k. If there's something you don't want to procrastinate on, it's seeing Ryan Reynolds in stunning 4k. He's my man crush.

If you're 100% sure that everything you have is 4k ready and the signal is still only 1080p, it's time to upgrade your HDMI cable. Your old one will make a fine rope in your "end of the world kit". Hail Zorp. Finding a 4k cable on Amazon is easy. In fact, it's harder to find one that isn't 4k compatible. These 4k cables don't cost much (if any) more than standard ones. However, not all 4k cables are created equally. While they all can achieve a 4k resolution, they have different 4k frame rates and the ability to display HDR content. Getting the right cable specs to match your TV can really hit the gas pedal on video quality.

HDMI Frame Rate Explained

TV frame rate is how many images per second are displayed by the screen. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the image. Different versions of HDMI cables have different max 4k frame rates. For simplicity's sake, if you are buying a new HDMI cable, make sure it is either HDMI 2.0a, 2.0b, or 2.1. These can all display 4k content at 60Hz or better and also can handle HDR signals. Hate it or love it, some people argue that HDR is more impressive than 4k, but that's a story for another day. Each version handles HDR content differently, so the closer you get to 2.1 the better signals you'll get. Even if you don't need a 10k compatible cable, getting an HDMI 2.1 cable will future-proof your setup so you won't need to read another blog in 2 years about upgrading HDMI cables. You can spend that time reading a blog I've been planning which attempts to understand which chicken nugget dipping sauce is most popular in different regions of the country. Finishing sauce is as important as the nugget. Oh, and here are the different HDMI versions compared:

DIfferent HDMI versions Explained

A key point to note, HDMI hasn't technically released the 2.1 certifications so it might be hard to find "2.1" cables on Amazon. That doesn't mean there aren't cables that have those specs. Confusing, right? Just look for 4k at 120hz for a good indication of HDMI 2.1-like performance. Our HDMI cables have all the specs of HDMI 2.1 but our lawyer guy said we can't legally call them 2.1 just yet. And yes, our lawyer guy does look suspiciously like Saul from the aforementioned Breaking Bad including the Bluetooth headset. It makes him feel important.

Greasy 4k lawyer

To make your life easier, here's a link to our best HDMI 2.0b cables (that also meet HDMI 2.1 standards, it's goin' down, lawyer guy). These are the best specs you'll find on Amazon for the 2ft, 4ft, and 8ft versions. Sorry, there are no 6 foot or 7 foot lengths. The 15ft version is just too long to meet the 2.1 specs but comfortably meets the 2.0b standards. If you have a mounted TV and need a long cable to go through the wall and down to your new Xbox One X, the 15ft version is ideal. The braided jacket keeps it from crimping and fraying over time as you move your TV around. Our cables are as good as your mom's spaghetti.

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