I was introduced to Accell Cables a
few years ago. I had begun work on a review of the DVDO VP-20 video
processor, and DVDO had provided some cables to ensure that I had all the
ones I would need to take advantage of the processor. All of the supplied
cables were by Accell, and I was immediately impressed with the quality of
the product. Now, several years later, Accell has increased their range of
products to include HDMI cables and HDMI accessories as well.
HDMI is quickly becoming the cable of choice for digital video
and audio. Most of the new products we see hitting the market have HDMI
inputs and outputs, allowing for high definition video and multi-channel
high resolution audio over one connector.
While I am a fan of what HDMI
brings to the table on paper, execution has been a different matter
altogether. The communications standards are supposed to be a certified
factor, but it appears that most products do not adhere as strictly to the
code and I've run into countless communication issues between products.
Another problem is the cables
themselves. With new formats sending high resolution 1080p
video and high resolution multi-channel audio over one connector, bandwidth
use greatly increases. I've had several cables in my system that were not up
to the task, and I started experiencing drop outs in video and communications
issues between products. In most cases, it was a problem with sending too
much information too far.
Accell has come up with a few solutions for these
The UltraRun Line
For this review I am
going to focus on the UltraAV and UltraRun products in Accell's line of
cabling. The UltraRun series is comprised of several different HDMI cables
that use a built-in signal equalizer and booster to allow for longer cable
runs than most HDMI cables. The UltraRun HDMI cable series starts out with
lengths of 10m and goes up in 5m increments all the way to 45m!! That is an
incredibly long cable run for a digital signal. Prices for this line range
from an MSRP of $299 for the 10m run, up to $599 for the 45m run. The average
on-line price for these cables seems to be a lot lower than MSRP, so shop
around to get the best deal (Accell does not sell direct).
The design of the
UltraRun cables eliminates the need for an in-line booster or amplifier up
to mid-length. As
the cable runs get longer, Accell has provided the option for a power
to boost the signal, but this is only necessary if you are experiencing
issues in the signal like "sparkles" or communication errors (this will
depend on the quality of the HDMI output on the source). The small
powe adapter connects to the opposite end of the cable from the source. During my
use, I never needed the adapter, but, again, this really depends on the
quality of the source output.
review, I was sent two separate UltraRun cables, a 10m and a 45m. Both cables
delivered as promised with no drop out issues at all.
Recently this line
of cables went through a new design change and the UltraRun line of cables
are now CL3 listed and can be used as an in-wall cable. They were also ATC
Another part of the
UltraRun line is a small HDMI signal repeater ($149). This is essentially a
dongle of sorts with an HDMI input and output and is about the size of a
bulk eraser. This repeater was designed to provide a
means of increasing the cable run to 50m. This device is connected to the
end of a 45m HDMI cable and allows you to add another 5m cable to it. I did
not have a 5m cable on hand but I did have a 3m cable and it worked just
fine using the same setup that I had before. I did not experience a single
dropout or communication error between the two products (A/V processor and
The construction of
the UltraRun HDMI cables is solid and definitely on the no frills side. The
inside of the cable consists of a nitrogen-injected dielectric that
surrounds high quality copper conductors. These are surrounded by a
triple metal shielding to eliminate interference. The outer jacketing is a simple black
polymer with no fancy
mesh or details. The terminations are slightly larger than most HDMI cables
I've dealt with because of the inclusion of an internal equalizer and
booster. All connectors and contacts are 24K gold plated.
The cabling does
allow for a decent amount of bending, but due to the size of the connector, I
don't recommend placing your components too close to a wall or back plate.
You'll need room to accommodate the connector and the bend of the cable.
The UltraAV Line
For this review, Accell also sent some
products from their UltraAV line, which consists of DVI cables,
HDMI cables, and a few accessories. I received an UltraAV 10m HDMI cable and
their new HDMI Switch. HDMI cables in the UltraAV line provide lengths from
1m to 10m.
The UltraAV HDMI
cable is very similar to the UltraRun 10m cable I already had. The biggest
difference was the lack of a equalizer and booster in the termination, which
made the terminator smaller in size (but equal in build). The jacketing and
internal makeup were all the same, and you can get the UltraAV line with
full CL3 rating for in-wall use.
I connected the 10m
cable between my A/V processor and my digital projector, and fed both 1080p
video and 720p video signals through them. Regardless of the signal I used, I had no
issues with dropouts or signal degradation.
Communication between the two
devices was flawless. The high definition picture looked just as good as
when I was using a high-end HDMI cable that costs several times more.
Accell's new UltraAV HDMI switch ($99) is a 2-in-1-out
solution for people that don't want to buy a large switcher or a new
receiver to do the job. The switch is quite small, measuring about 2"x2" in
size and requires no power source. It comes with a small remote control that
is extremely thin and light weight. It also has a small button on the top of
the switch that can be used to toggle between sources. The top of the device
has two LEDs that tell you which input is currently active. On top of that,
Accell has provided a 5-foot extension cable with an IR sensor on it so you
can tuck away the switcher and still control it with the remote.
Hook-up was a snap.
You simply connect the sources to the labeled inputs and connect the output
to your projector. For testing, I connected a Samsung Blu-ray player and
my JVC D-Theater D-VHS player. The switch is HDMI 1.2 compliant so I had no
issues passing the 1080p video feed from the Samsung as well as the high
resolution uncompressed PCM multi-channel audio. At less than $100, this
thing is a great alternative for people who have two HDMI sources to
switch and only one HDMI input on their projector to work with.
Accell has continued
to impress me with their line of products. I constantly recommend their
analog video cables, which have served me well for quite a few years. I've
been using their analog cables for our DVD Benchmark for over three years now,
without a single hitch. Their HDMI products continue that trend with superb
performance and value. Very few products out there have a guarantee for such
long cable runs. For anyone wanting
exceptional cable performance without gimmicks, but having a solid value, Accell
delivers in spades.
- Kris Deering -