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Accessory Review: RedMere “Active” HDMI Cable |

As many of us who have been familiar with HD sources know, those HDMI cables are often pretty thick and heavy. They have to have a high enough data flow rate for HD sources to get said data to a television or AV receiver, without losing audio and video quality. It’s a wonder, then, how RedMere managed to come up with some seemingly basic technology to allow for the HDMI’s data cable to be so thin (think the thickness of standard earbud headphones), while still allowing for the standard 10.2Gb/s transfer rate.

Turns out, the connector that goes to the TV (or receiver) contains a self-powered chip that basically amplifies the signal. I assume it only works one way, so the HDMI cable has one end labeled for the TV and the other for the source. Me, I have a 7.1 audio receiver, so I connected my PS3 to that instead.

Off the bat, I can tell you that, unlike other HDMI cables, the thickness (or lack thereof) of this cable allows for a lot more flexibility. Like their promotional material says, you can literally walk around with a 10 foot cable in your pocket and you won’t even notice it. Having messed with standard HDMI cables, you would know how bulky those things are, especially if you’re storing them because you’re traveling or moving. I’m always afraid I was going to bend them just a little too far :lol:. That’s one of the reasons why this is a perfect HDMI solution for travel.

What is also nice is the fact that, even with the active chip, the connectors are still about the same length as a standard cable’s. Now, though, you have less weight being pulled by the cable from wherever you have it plugged in (as a lot of HDMI connections could be ruined, especially if you constantly remove and reconnect cables, though I’d assume that’s not as big a problem as it used to be when HDMI was first introduced).

Of course, none of this really matters if the quality of the picture and sound doesn’t stand up to that of standard cables. Most people aren’t going to notice subtle changes between high-end cables and standard HDMI cables, and they most likely won’t notice a difference here, either. A 7.1 HD audio stream still sounds very clear and punchy, so it seems to keep the same quality of signal as other cables do. Though, I would assume that, because the cable is so thin, there is going to be some loss that the amplification from the active chip can’t recover, but I don’t have any tools to test audio and picture quality that many audiophiles and videophiles likely have access to.

With that said, I think the picture quality and sound quality is very comparable to standard cables (I couldn’t notice a difference), and if you travel a lot (and like to bring your PS3, or other HDMI devices, to hook up to the TVs at the hotel), this could be the perfect solution for you. Or, if you don’t want a mess of thick wires behind the TV, this could work for you, too. The only downside I think you’d have is, because the cables are more flexible, if you have people or things moving the cable around, it will probably get tangled up with other wires (which happens a lot around my house).

Now, a couple other things. I haven’t been able to test it myself, as I don’t have the technology, but according to RedMere, the technology can be used with 3D (though I am not sure if the cable that was supplied to me was compatible), as well as HDMI with ethernet. If you’re looking to pick up one of these cables, you can find them through brands like Vizio, Samsung, and Monster (more here). You can also get them with source connections for micro (D) and mini (C) for cameras, tablets, etc.

Given my experience with this product, overall (unless you’re an audio/videophile who would be able to notice a difference, if any), I would have to recommend it. I just can’t really give this one a score, though.

This review is based on a retail copy of the RedMere “Active” HDMI Cable provided by RedMere.

  • how about price? if it cost more than a standard HDMI cable then would the flexibility make up for that?


    Um .. Jay … That thing costs $90 for 1m!!!!

  • Jay

    First, it is going to depend on the brand. a 1 meter Monster-branded cable using this technology is $90. Vizio’s 6ft length cable is $80 (6 foot 2 pack on Amazon is $50 right now; $60 regular). PNY’s 6ft is $30, so it varies. It may not be $10-$15, but if you need to save space on travel, or just want thinner wires, you have to decide whether or not the price is worth it yourself

  • Great review Jay! I’ll consider one of these for my Wii U purchase but I’ll skip the Monster brand since it always adds $10-40 to final price for no reason.

  • Pedro

    I had that problem, actually I had to buy a new HDMI cable last week because the old one i had “broke”. It’s ridiculous how poor quality those things are, I almost never moved it and it stopped working anyway…

    So this would be a good solution, i bought one of those flat HDMI cables, that are supposedly more lenient to twists and turns… we’ll see.

    Only thing I’m not convinced is the “ear bud thickness”… that’s just because i’ve lost so many of those because of the daily use, I’m scared to purchase any other ones, I’ve had a Bose earphone for over a year now and it’s still perfect, so maybe quality is important.

    interesting review jay.


    I am using the old xbox HDMI cable!

  • I prefer to buy my HDMI cables from Monoprice. It doesn’t have this new-fangled skinny technology, but the cables are high quality and inexpensive.

  • I’m 100% with Blackstaffer!!! I’m of the camp that a digital signal’s quality if either flowing or not flowing. Quality of signal due to your wires simply doesn’t matter as much as it did back in the analog days.

    I think the biggest point of that whole review was repeated a couple of times, “I couldn’t notice a difference”

  • Jay

    Digital signals are not immune to compression. If there’s not enough data flow for a digital signal, it will be compressed to make up for the loss of that flow.

  • Compression of a digital signal which is already compressed (which most digital signals are) would require uncompressing and then recompressing the signal as at a lower bit rate. That’s not gonna happen in a passive device like a cable. Unless you’re talking about a different kind of compression?

  • Jay

    this isn’t exactly a passive device, though. It uses a self-powered chip to essentially amplify the signal passing through it. And since it only works one way, I would assume that one end compresses the signal and the chip on the other end decompresses it, which makes it possible to pass through the thin wires.

    EDIT: OK, looked into it a little more. From what I can gather, the chip doesn’t compress or decompress the signal, but it does boost the speed of the signal to bypass the obvious bottlenecking a thin cable would create (which is why passive HDMI cables are so thick), but is simply powered by the HDMI ports themselves.