HDMI vs. Ethernet Cable: Do You Need Both?

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​
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HDMI vs. Ethernet Cable are two very different data transmission cables. 

While ethernet cables transmit regular data, HDMI cables transmit video and audio signals.

 However, thanks to the introduction of an HDMI cable with ethernet capabilities, you can get the functions of both ethernet and HDMI cables in a single cable for multimedia purposes. 

The article below will tackle the debate between HDMI vs. ethernet cable.

Table of Contents

What is HDMI?

Over the years, HDMI has become the standard for connecting two AV (audio/visual) devices. 

You will find an HDMI connector in almost all your household tech appliances such as your TV, laptop, gaming console, camera, and a few smartphones.

With technology advancing by the day, the standard for HDMI has evolved. 

HDMI 2.0, HDMI 1.4, and the most recent HDMI 2.1 are the most commonly used standards. 

The HDMI 2.1 is capable of supporting almost every type of modern video format, for example, 8K at 60 fps and 4K at 120 frames per second

Also, it will transfer any type of video such as Dolby True HD, uncompressed digital audio like DTS HD Master Audio, or simple two-channel PCM stereo audio.

Furthermore, for advanced gaming features such as ALLM, VRR, and QMS, HDMI 2.1 is a must-have. 

Hence it is important to know the current HDMI standards available because older versions have a number of limitations.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet is a wired internet connection you can use a cable to connect a computer to the modem or create a LAN which can connect multiple devices all at once. 

Often most people use ethernet when they are trying to optimize their device network or increase their communication speed.

HDMI vs. Ethernet Cable: Comparisons

Below is a side-by-side comparison between HDMI and Ethernet.

1. HDMI vs. Ethernet cable: Use Cases

HDMI Cable

The most common use for an HDMI cable is to transfer source video content from your laptop to your screen

For such instances, you don’t need to have a smart TV; the only requirement is that your TV has an HDMI port. 

The reason for this is that your TV probably provides an improved visual appeal in the living room setting.

HDMI Cable Connecting To a Laptop

Caption: HDMI Cable Connecting To a Laptop

Another use for HDMI cables is to connect your PC or laptop to a secondary display

Although most users are just fine with using a single screen, those working in specific professions such as video editors and software developers can increase productivity by implementing the use of a secondary display.

The use of traditional TV boxes has become obsolete thanks to the emergence of online streaming services. 

Similar to internet speeds, online streaming services are growing, with more and more people subscribing to various services such as Apple TV +, Amazon Plus, and Netflix. 

You can access such services using a streaming box like Mi Box or Apple TV. 

However, you will still need an HDMI cable to connect the streaming box to your TV.

Ethernet Cable

Normally ethernet cables provide an internet connection for various devices using a local area network. A number of devices such as your internet modem have an ethernet port. 

The most popular use of ethernet cables is to connect a WiFi router or modem to an internet entry port or telephone line.

Also, you can use ethernet cables to hard wire several devices such as TVs and computers that require an internet connection to function. 

2. HDMI vs. Ethernet cable: Types

HDMI Cable

With time, there have been several types of HDMI cables attempting to remain up to date with the latest audio/video content advancements. 

HDMI standardsFeatures Supported HDMI cable type
HDMI 1.0Support for 8 channels of uncompressed digital audio.Data transfer speeds of 4.9 Gbps.Full-resolution playback for Blu-Ray video and audio.Standard speed(Category 1) or higher
HDMI 1.1The same as HDMI 1.0 with the exceptional feature of supporting DVD audioStandard speed(Category 1) or higher
HDMI 1.2 The same as HDMI 1.1 with the additional feature of supporting one-bit audio formatStandard speed(Category 1) or higher
HDMI 1.3An increase in bandwidth of up to 10.2 Gbps.An improvement in color quality because it was capable of supporting deep color.An added lip sync feature.High speed(Category 2) or higher
HDMI 1.4HEC complaint to allow internet sharing. The introduction of HEC is the only difference between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 1.3. High speed(Category 2) or higher
HDMI 2.0The same as HDMI 1.1 with the additional feature of supporting a one-bit audio formatPremium high-speed HDMI (Category 3) or higher
HDMI 2.1Dynamic HDR.Enhanced Audio Arc Channel.Different refresh rates such as 8K at 60 fps and 4K at 60 fps.Auto Low Latency Mode.Quick media switching.Quick frame transport.Ultra high speed(Category 4)

Ethernet Cables

Ethernet cables are different according to the type of cable and type of network. Some of the various ethernet network types include;

  • Switch Ethernet
  • Fast Ethernet
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet

While some of the various ethernet cable types include;

  • 1000Base-LX
  • 1000Base-SX
  • 100Base-FX
  • 10Base-TX
  • 10Base-T
  • 10Base5
  • 10Base2
Types of Ethernet Cables

Caption: Types of Ethernet Cables

You May Be Confused by HDMI With Ethernet Cables

HDMI 1.4 led to the introduction of HDMI with ethernet. 

What is an HDMI with an ethernet cable?

HDMI with ethernet cable refers to a cable that combines the functions of an ethernet cable and HDMI cable.

 This cable is capable of transferring not only uncompressed video and audio but also ethernet data packets all at once.

The primary point of an HDMI with ethernet is to eliminate the need for additional cables when using multimedia devices. 

Therefore, your gaming console, TV, and home theater would not need both an HDMI cable and an ethernet cable.

Depending on bandwidth and speed, there are three versions of HDMI with ethernet cables.

  • Ultra-high-speed with ethernet
  • High speed with ethernet
  • Standard with ethernet

Today HDMI with ethernet cables have become popular, and most people buy them more compared to standard HDMI cables. 

However, devices that are HEC compatible such as TVs, gaming consoles, and AV receivers, are not yet popular. 

 You can confirm if your device is HEC compatible by checking the user manual.

How Ethernet Works With HDMI

The HDMI link comprises a dedicated data channel creating bi-directional networking at a speed of about 100 Mbps. 

Therefore, there is a reliable and fast way for Ip based devices to communicate with each other on the same network. 

This not only allows various devices to share an internet connection but also provides a simple way for connecting HDMI-enabled devices to each other.

With HDMI 1.4, out of the 19 wires, there are two twisted wires to enable the transmission of ethernet over the cable’s length.

 However, with HDMI 1.3, there are no twisted wires; therefore, although it can transmit an ethernet signal, the signal can’t transmit as far as the cable’s length.

It’s important to keep in mind that in order to use an HDMI with an ethernet cable, both your devices should support HEC functionality

Your devices should have a special HEC-enabled port.

Applications of HDMI-Over-Ethernet

The Roku and Xbox 360 by Netflix are perfect examples of devices that require an internet connection to perform basic functions. 

Therefore, thanks to the HDMI-over-ethernet cable, you don’t have to run two separate cables for your devices. 

An internet signal is now sent on a single device and shared across the other devices. 

Hence, reducing the clutter of cables and the extra expense of having to purchase separate cables.  

HDMI 1.4 with ethernet channels makes it simpler for connected devices to share digital content in original format. 

Keep in mind this doesn’t change unencrypted or encrypted data in any form.

 It simply allows users to access and share the data via different IP-based devices. 

Data that is protected with HDCP encryption remains encrypted unless they are accessed by HDCP-compliant devices. 

However, unencrypted data remains free of data protection. 

HDMI cable vs. ethernet cable vs. HDMI with ethernet cable

CableApplicationTransmission Type
HDMITransmitting high-quality video and audio signals between multimedia devices such as gaming consoles, TVs, and computers.Transfers uncompressed video and audio data
EthernetConnecting devices in a LAN or WAN for data communication, including servers, routers and computers.Transfers data in packets via specific protocols at speeds ranging from 10 Mbps to 100 Gbps
HDMI with EthernetCombines the functions of ethernet and HDMI enabling video and audio transmission and data communication at once.Transfers uncompressed video and audio, and ethernet data packets.

Conclusion

Ethernet and HDMI are different, although both operate in multimedia and communication. 

But if you find yourself wanting to use one in place of the other, it’s best to get an HDMI cable with ethernet. At Cloom, you can find both HDMI cables with and without ethernet.