Great idea: Locking HDMI cable
One of the traditional weaknesses of the video connectors on most consumer electronics is that there’s no way to keep them from becoming disconnected when under tension. So it’s great to see some innovation on this front with a company launching a new locking version of HDMI – the connector that has become the mainstay of the HD video world.
You may have had this happen before: after hours of carefully planning your rats-nest of cable connections going in and out of your home theatre receiver, cable box, TV and who-knows-what-else, you push everything back in place, turn it all on, only to find out that something isn’t right.
Odds are good that one of those cables which typically use the ancient yet still popular RCA connector – you know the one with the outer ring and the inner stem – has come unplugged because it was loose to begin with or the cable got tugged by one of the other pieces of equipment that you just slid into place.
I’ve always been frustrated by the lack of a locking mechanism on RCA, HDMI, USB, mini-plugs and many other consumer-oriented connectors. More so because as anyone who has worked in professional audio and video will tell you, it doesn’t have to be this way.
For years, the pros have had locking connectors such as BNC for video and XLR for audio. They’re chunkier and much less appealing to look at than those other connectors, but when they’re connected, they stay connected… you’d virtually have to yank on these things with all your strength to get them to release unintentionally.
That’s why I was so delighted to read the recent press release from a company called PPC. I’d never heard of them before, and I can’t vouch for the quality of their cables – but their new locking HDMI connector is huge step in the right direction.
Able to fit into any standard HDMI port, these connectors use a simple tension mechanism that the company claims will offer 3 times the connected resistance of non-locking HDMI connectors.
While this won’t give you the kind of confidence that the pro connectors offer, it’s a big improvement over the status quo.
The locking HDMI cable is available now, for $48.99 USD for a 3 foot cable, which is more expensive than many other HDMI cables on the market. But for some folks, it’s well worth the extra cash for added convenience.
I'll never purchase a cable like this.
In the days of the original XBox, Microsoft had the right idea. There was a break-away in the line for the controllers so if anyone was clumsy enough to trip over the wire, instead of pulling the entire machine off the shelf, the line would simply disconnect without mangling any connector.
If you're running such a huge rat nest of cables that there's constant tension on a plug, you're doing something wrong. Should some weird event happen and extra tension is put on the cables, instead of losing a single piece of hardware, the whole works is going to topple. Best case scenario is that you'll be on the hook for replacing the HDMI connection on one end of the unit or other when it gets damaged by the extra force of the pull.
Instead of spending $50 on a 3 foot cable, steal some extra twist ties the next time you're grocery shopping and clean that mess up a little.
Maybe it's better used in a situation where the cables are not accessible (like in an equipment rack) and where someone's not likely to trip over, but I can tell you that there have been more than a few occasions where "tripping over the cable" has damaged not only the cable, but the components (HDMI Input) as well…and that's with a standard HDMI Cable, not locking cable (do a search for damaged hdmi ports and you'll see plenty). If someone trips over the HDMI Cable, there's a good chance while the cable comes out of the HDMI Input it will also damage that input, which will not be cheap to fix.
I think cables like this, the Gefen, Lindy or hd ez lock are a good idea in home theater use as they eliminate the problems of the cable coming undone, and some of them support the cable to take the load off of the input as well.