HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) has become a popular standard for connecting high definition devices. The cable conveniently carries both video and audio, and TVs frequently now have multiple hdmi ports. HDMI switches are also fairly cheap (such as Play’s three port switcher for £11 ). HDMI cables themselves are inexpensive with 7dayshop offering them at £3 or less (if ordering more than one) and many other stores also offering low prices.
Both Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony PS3 can use any of these standard cables, unlike the proprietary cables needed for their other video connections. For any normal cable lengths, the quality is the same, as the signal is digital and not degraded by interference. The cables are a popular mark up item in shops where they can cost substantially more for no real benefit.
HDMI on the PS3 is simple, as all the models support hdmi and external audio can be hooked up using the PS3’s onboard optical out.
However, on the Xbox360, it’s a bit more complicated. Launch Xbox 360s did not have an hdmi port and were phased in for the full range starting with the launch of the Elite. The simplest way to check is to look at the back right of the 360. If the 360 has an hdmi port it will be to the left of the network and USB ports, below the A/V connection. If the TV is used for audio as well as the video, then all that’s needed is an hdmi cable . However, if the 360 is to be hooked up to a separate audio system, Microsoft have chosen to make this a little more tricky.
Elite owners get an audio breakout box which plugs into the A/V socket allowing for either phono or optical digital audio out. Microsoft sell an overpriced hdmi pack with an hdmi cable and audio breakout box. However the optical out on the 360 component cable can be used by levering off the casing on the cable – this allows the cable to fit into the A/V connector at the same time as the hdmi cable while allowing the optical out to function.