Confused about cables types?

Written by: Jon Duffy



Time to read 7 min

A cable is just a cable, right? Well, it isn’t quite that simple. There are all sorts of cable types, with features and tech details that are important to understand to make sure you get the ideal cable for your needs.

A Guide to Cable Types

Braided cables at Maplin


A braided cable offers greater durability so your cable will last longer. It also makes it less likely to tangle, which is always a huge plus!

These cables, distinguished by their woven outer layer, offer a range of advantages that make them a preferred choice for consumers and manufacturers alike.

Enhanced Durability

One of the primary benefits of braided cables is their durability. The braided outer layer provides an additional shield against wear and tear, protecting the inner wires from damage caused by bending, twisting, or pulling. This durability is particularly advantageous for cables that are frequently used or subjected to rough handling, such as charging cables for smartphones and laptops. Unlike traditional cables, which may fray or break over time, braided cables are more resilient, prolonging their lifespan and saving users from the hassle and cost of frequent replacements.

Improved Flexibility

Flexibility is another key advantage of braided cables. The woven design allows for greater flexibility compared to cables with rigid or inflexible coatings. This flexibility makes braided cables easier to bend and maneuver, even in tight spaces or around corners. Whether you're charging your device in a cramped car interior or connecting peripherals to your computer in a cluttered workspace, the pliable nature of braided cables ensures hassle-free usage without the risk of kinks or tangles.

Stylish Aesthetics

In addition to their functional benefits, braided cables also offer a touch of style. The woven outer layer comes in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing users to personalize their cables to match their preferences or complement their devices. Whether you prefer sleek and minimalist designs or bold and vibrant colors, there's a braided cable to suit every taste. Moreover, the premium look and feel of braided cables can add a touch of sophistication to your tech setup, elevating the overall aesthetic appeal.

Tangle-Free Design

Tired of dealing with tangled cables that seem to have a mind of their own? Braided cables offer a solution. Thanks to their smooth and flexible exterior, braided cables are less prone to tangling compared to their counterparts with rubber or plastic coatings. This means less time spent untangling cables and more time enjoying uninterrupted connectivity. Whether you're stashing your cables in a bag or drawer, you can rest assured that they'll remain neatly coiled and ready for use when you need them.

Environmentally Friendly

For eco-conscious consumers, braided cables offer an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cables. Many braided cables are made from sustainable materials such as nylon or cotton, which are more biodegradable and recyclable compared to conventional plastics. Additionally, the durability of braided cables means fewer replacements are needed, reducing overall waste. By opting for braided cables, consumers can make a small but meaningful contribution to reducing their environmental footprint.

Full HD 4K Ultra HD Cables at Maplin

Full HD / 4K Ultra HD / 8K Ultra HD

If you’re connecting your cable to a monitor or TV, you’ll want to make sure you get the best visual quality possible. For example, if you have a 4K TV, you’ll want a 4K cable to enjoy every detail! Make sure you choose a cable that matches the definition of your screen.

Key Differences

Resolution and Bandwidth

The most obvious difference between Full HD and 4K cables lies in their supported resolutions and bandwidths. While Full HD cables are limited to 1080p resolution, 4K cables are capable of handling resolutions up to 4K Ultra HD, providing superior image quality and detail.

HDR and Frame Rates

4K cables often support advanced features such as HDR and higher frame rates, which enhance the visual experience by delivering greater contrast, brightness, and color accuracy. Full HD cables may not be equipped to handle these features, limiting their compatibility with newer display technologies.

HDMI Versions

Another factor to consider is the HDMI version supported by the cables. While Full HD cables may utilize earlier HDMI standards (such as HDMI 1.4), 4K cables typically adhere to newer standards like HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 2.1, which offer increased bandwidth and support for 4K content at higher refresh rates.


Investing in 4K cables ensures compatibility with the latest display technologies and future-proofing your entertainment setup. As 4K content becomes more prevalent and accessible, upgrading to 4K cables ensures you can take full advantage of the latest advancements in visual quality and immersion.

Ethernet cables at Maplin


Some cables can also carry a networking signal, so you can create a wired Internet connection between two devices. The benefit? You won’t need separate HDMI and Ethernet cables, helping you to keep your setup neat and tidy.

  1. Reliability and Stability: Ethernet cables provide a stable and reliable connection, unaffected by factors such as signal interference, congestion, or distance limitations that can impact wireless networks. This makes them ideal for critical applications where uninterrupted connectivity is essential.

  2. Speed and Performance: Ethernet cables offer faster data transfer speeds compared to Wi-Fi, making them well-suited for bandwidth-intensive tasks such as streaming high-definition video, online gaming, and transferring large files.

  3. Security: Wired connections via Ethernet cables are inherently more secure than wireless connections, as they are less susceptible to unauthorized access or interception. This makes Ethernet cables a preferred choice for transmitting sensitive data and maintaining network security.

  4. Versatility: Ethernet cables are compatible with a wide range of devices, including computers, laptops, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and network peripherals. They can be easily installed and configured to create wired networks tailored to specific requirements.

Shop all Ethernet cables

High speed & super speed cables at Maplin

High Speed / Super Speed

If you need to charge devices like your smartphone or transfer data quickly, keep an eye out for cables that feature High Speed or Super Speed connectivity. This will help you charge and transfer at top speeds, saving you lots of time!

  1. HDMI Cables: High-Speed HDMI cables are engineered to support the transmission of high-definition audio and video signals between devices such as TVs, monitors, gaming consoles, and multimedia players. With support for resolutions up to 4K Ultra HD and beyond, these cables deliver stunning visuals and immersive audio experiences for home entertainment and gaming enthusiasts.

  2. USB Cables: USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 cables offer significantly faster data transfer speeds compared to their predecessors, making them ideal for connecting external storage devices, peripherals, and smartphones. With speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 2) and beyond, high-speed USB cables enable quick and efficient data syncing, charging, and peripheral connectivity.

  3. Thunderbolt Cables: Thunderbolt cables, developed by Intel in collaboration with Apple, deliver unparalleled data transfer speeds and versatility for connecting high-performance peripherals such as external hard drives, displays, and audio interfaces. With Thunderbolt 3 cables boasting speeds of up to 40 Gbps and support for dual 4K displays, users can unleash the full potential of their devices for creative and professional workflows.

HDMI cables at Maplin

HDMI Versions

As a general rule, the higher the number, the better the performance. For example, HDMI 1.3 is only capable of streaming Full HD content at 60Hz, whereas HDMI 2.0 can deliver 4K Ultra HD visuals at 60Hz. So, if you’re after top quality, make sure to go for HDMI 2.0 and beyond.

HDMI Versions and Features:

  1. HDMI 1.0 - 1.2: The early iterations of HDMI introduced basic high-definition connectivity with support for resolutions up to 1080p and multi-channel audio. HDMI 1.2 added support for additional audio formats and introduced the Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) feature for device control over a single HDMI connection.

  2. HDMI 1.3 - 1.4: HDMI 1.3 brought significant improvements, including support for higher resolutions (up to 1440p), increased bandwidth for deeper colour depths and higher refresh rates, and the introduction of the Audio Return Channel (ARC) for transmitting audio from a TV back to an AV receiver. HDMI 1.4 added support for 3D content, Ethernet connectivity (HDMI Ethernet Channel), and introduced the Micro HDMI connector for smaller devices.

  3. HDMI 2.0 - 2.0b: HDMI 2.0 represented a major leap forward in high-definition connectivity, doubling the maximum bandwidth to 18 Gbps and enabling support for 4K resolution at 60 frames per second (fps). It also introduced support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, providing greater contrast, brightness, and color accuracy. HDMI 2.0b added support for Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) HDR format and improved compatibility with consumer electronics.

  4. HDMI 2.1: The latest iteration of HDMI, HDMI 2.1, pushes the boundaries of high-definition connectivity even further. With a massive bandwidth of 48 Gbps, HDMI 2.1 supports resolutions up to 10K and frame rates up to 120 fps, delivering unparalleled visual fidelity and smoothness. It also introduces dynamic HDR, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), catering to the demands of gamers and home theater enthusiasts alike.

Shop all HDMI cables

Ready to explore our range of cables? Check out the full range here!

Braided cables offer greater durability and are less likely to tangle

When connecting cables to monitors or TVs, choose one matching your screen's resolution for optimal visual quality

Some cables can carry both video and networking signals, eliminating the need for separate HDMI and Ethernet cables

Look for cables labelled as High Speed or Super Speed for fast charging and data transfer

HDMI versions range from early iterations supporting basic high-definition connectivity to the latest HDMI 2.1, which offers massive bandwidth, support for resolutions up to 10K, and advanced features like dynamic HDR and Variable Refresh Rate

About the author

Jon Duffy is a Digital Merchandiser at Maplin.

An avid gamer from a young age, Jon has dabbled in gaming journalism and dedicates much of his spare time to this hobby. He also has an interest in music, playing bass guitar in a rock covers band.

Having previously worked as a copywriter with another electronics retailer, he was eager to join Maplin with their new online venture. In addition to writing blogs, Jon also works on many of the website's landing pages and adding new tech to the range.