We usually use standard High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables to connect devices close by, such as your Laptop to your TV, or to transfer large files from a PC to your device.
But what about connections between devices that are farther apart? What do we use? Do we need to buy multiple HDMI cords and connectors for only two devices?
This is where fiber optic HDMI cables come in.
They’re made with different materials than other HDMI cords, which allows them to create stable connections between devices in a much larger space.
How big, you ask?
Well, you can connect your PC to your projector outside for a fun drive-in-style movie night outdoors. Depending on the size of your house, that distance can easily reach over 50 feet between each device!
But what are fiber optic HDMI cords made out of? Why are they so efficient at making long-distance connections between devices? And are they worth the investment?
What are Fiber Optic HDMI cables?
Don’t all HDMI cables just connect one device to another? What’s so special about a fiber optic HDMI?
Yes, all HDMI cords connect one device to another, but they have their variations and specialties. For fiber optic HDMI cables, it’s the ability to sustain stable long-distance connections between devices – up to 1000ft!
Insane, right? But how is that possible?
Fiber optic HDMI cords are just “built different,” as kids these days say.
These HDMI units have converters attached to each of their ends. These converters turn light signals into HDMI signals while simultaneously transmitting them to the other connected devices.
If you have seen fiber optic cables, you might not think that they can handle transmitting large amounts of signals between devices because their threads are so thin. They just don’t look very durable.
But looks can be deceiving. These fiber optic cables can transport signals at the speed of light – literally – because they use light/lasers to transmit data from one device to the other. The “regular” copper HDMI cables, on the other hand, use electricity, which is a lot slower.
So if you need to set up a connection between two devices that are 200 ft apart or more, a fiber optic cable will be your best friend!
These optical fibers make fiber optic HDMI cables capable of making long-distance connections.
“But can’t we establish a long-distance HDMI connection using HDMI repeaters?”
Yes, but you’ll need other extension cords to make the connections, unlike fiber optic HDMI which only needs one cable! Plus, HDMI cables also have a tendency to degrade the signal quality over long-distance connections.
Does Fiber Optic HDMI Cables Support ARC?
For movie nuts and gamers, audio quality matters too. It’s not enough to experience high-quality images; the sound also needs to be on point.
So, do fiber optic HDMI cables support ARC?
Yes, they do!
That’s why many seminars and conferences prefer fiber optic HDMI cables. They can connect devices across large auditoriums without sacrificing the image quality, and they also get clear audio!
Think about those TedTalks that we watch on YouTube. There is a good chance that they are using fiber optic HDMI cables to make sure that their guest speakers are easily understood.
One downside is that not all fiber optic cables support HDMI ARC. So you have to confirm if the cable you are checking out has this feature before making the purchase.
Limitations of Fiber Optic HDMI Cables
Despite the many benefits of fiber optic HDMI cables, they have some important limitations that you need to consider before clicking “check-out” on Amazon. Let’s talk about them:
We mentioned that the fiber optics HDMI cables are thin, and it is this “thinness” that makes them so easy to sustain damage. That, and fiber optic cables also have a glass core that can easily break.
Exposure to strong chemicals and radiation can damage its optic network. Not to mention how easy it is to accidentally cut these cables if you remodel your home or do some rewiring.
Because of its fragility, you also need to be careful when laying the cords in the corners of a room. If bent too far, the optical fibers inside will break.
Limitation #2: Cost
We would be lying if we said that fiber optic HDMI cables were cheap, they’re not.
While the prices may vary depending on the brand and the length of your cord, they’re still pricier than the “normal” high-speed HDMI cords. In fact, the per meter cost of a fiber optic HDMI cable costs way more than “regular” HDMI cables.
You can, however, find discounted prices on Amazon. But they will still be a bit expensive.
Limitation #3: One-directional characteristics
Unlike other HDMI cords with tips, you can interchange when connecting two devices, fiber optical cables must be connected to the appropriately marked ports.
If you buy a fiber optic HDMI cord, you will notice that one end will be labeled as ''source'' and the other ''display'' .
Should you try to plug in the “display” end of your cord into the media source and the “source” end into where you will be viewing your media from, it won’t work.
To use your fiber optic HDMI cable, you have to connect each end to the appropriate ports. Otherwise, they will not be able to transfer audio and video signals between your devices.
Is Fiber Optic HDMI Worth It?
While this article’s primary purpose is to highlight the upsides of using fiber optic HDMI cables, we must be practical when spending our hard-earned money.
So, if you’re sitting there wondering if you should set aside money for fiber optic cords, ask yourself this question:
“Will I be making any long-distance connections between my devices in the near future?”
If your answer is “no”, you don’t need it. The standard HDMI cords will be more than enough to meet your needs.
If you answered “yes,” then go for it!
Just because fiber optic HDMI cables have a lot of upsides to them doesn’t mean you necessarily need them in your life.
If you’re only looking for a good HDMI cord to connect your devices at home, then you won’t really need a fiber optic HDMI cord.
These types of cords also tend to be fragile. So, home use is not the most practical for fiber optic HDMI cables.
The “normal” high-speed HDMI cords will be more than enough to handle the job.
But if you regularly have to connect devices across large rooms, these fiber optic HDMI cords will be your best friend.