Hello D-Tools followers,

I hope you have been enjoying the series on cable construction 101. Hopefully, you are not using this to help with insomnia and are getting a better take of the complexities, requirements, expectations, and differences in HDMI cabling! So, if you need to revisit any of the previous articles for research or sleeping order issues, please click here.

For this article, we will concentrate on connector tolerances and how that pertains to the dreaded “cable falling out of the socket” syndrome.

As many of you know, one of the early issues with HDMI cabling was the dreaded “cable falling out of the socket” syndrome. This typically happed: a) after a long install, b) when your schedule was totally busy, and c) in the middle of the night. On many of these instances, you found the only problem was that the silly cable fell out! Cursing under your breath, you would wonder why did they ever design the HDMI cable without a locking mechanism?

The reason for this is quite simple. The HDMI Specification (Section – Type A) actually has a minimum and maximum tolerance to the connector assembly. These differences, while small, can play a big part in how the cable connects – especially over long distances. While some companies can use this as marketing noting that the cable will confirm to any receptacle, the real reason for using the minimum tolerance is not marketing but cost savings. By simply using the minimum tolerance allowed by the Standard, companies that are producing millions of cables can save a noticeable percentage off their bottom line by using the minimum tolerances.

So then, why do some cable companies market “locking connectors” instead of just producing their connectors to the maximum tolerances? While this is a business decision that each company has to make, the first reason is the obvious one – the ability to market a solution that many don’t realize they have. Having a locking connector can, in some cases, be the difference in a sale – pure and simple. The other reason has to do with the manufacturing process itself. Since 2003, the main goal in most cable companies is to concentrate just on reducing manufacturing costs. One clear and easy way to reduce manufacturing costs is to just purchase bulk/premade cabling and connectors to then complete the manufacturing process. As we discussed above, purchasing a connector that is set to the minimum tolerance coupled with bulk cable – which is heavy – the easiest and most cost effective way to “fix” this situation would be to add some kind of locking mechanism.

So, when looking for quality in a HDMI cable, pay close attention to the details. Does the connector fit snugly into the receptacle? Is that cable with a “locking connector” just the same cable with the added mechanism? In just about any situation, having a cable constructed to the maximum connector tolerance will perform as good if not better than a locking connector.

For next week, we will continue our discussion on the dreaded “cable falling out of the socket’ syndrome with “overmolding.”

As always, if you have any questions regarding this discussion or on how Kordz products uses the maximum tolerances in our HDMI cabling, please feel free to drop me a line.

Michael Schaller
Kordz USA, Inc