Originally Posted by Megalith
Out of curiosity, how much force can an HDMI socket take? If one were insane enough to put significant upwards or downwards pressure on an HDMI cable that was plugged in, which would be more likely to break: something within the socket, or something on the cable (the male connector)?
I have a habit of wiggling the HDMI connector a lot on my equipment because of dropouts (which, I found last night, can be blamed on my AVR). Unfortunately, OCD kicked in when I was fiddling around with the HDMI connection on my BDP-83, and I probably put more pressure on the socket than I should have---all seems fine as I still get a signal, but my paranoia simply won't budge...
Are most sockets designed like this:
If so, it seems that if an HDMI socket suffered damage, it'd be the actually socket coming loose from the PCB, right?
Yes, that is the typical failure point for surface mounted HDMI connectors. My experience is that even with the 4 little tabs soldered to the PCB, it can still work loose, especially with the less elastic lead-free solder formulations in use today. I've even seen a case where the metal shroud was still firmly attached to the PCB, yet the surface mount pins were detached from the PCB. In that case, putting pressure on the cable in the upward direction would force the pins into contact with the pads on the PCB and it would work, but then relaxing the pressure, one or more contacts would become disconnected. The connector shown in your picture with the screw tab might seem to be the ticket, but that just raises a new problem of tolerances between whatever metal bracketry it is screwed to and the PCB mounting points. Imagine that the bracket in some cases is just a little bit too far away from the tab. Now, putting a screw through the bracket and into the tab ends up producing precisely the sort of upward cantilever force on the pins where the connect to the PCB, that this was supposed to avoid. Way to go! If you study various different PCB mount connectors designed for other purposes (VGA, RS232, etc), you'll see a fundamental difference with respect to the typical HDMI connector. That is, the metal bracketry surrounding a VGA or RS232 D-sub type connector, is much more substantial and the plastic innards of the connector extend far outside of the bracketry completing enveloping it. Grab the plastic part and see if you can wiggle it. It's very strongly attached to the metal bracketry and there is very little net force imparted to the pins where they contact the PCB. In sharp contrast, grab an HDMI cable inserted into it's PCB mounted mating connector and wiggle it. You'll see very quickly that the bracketry does very little to keep stresses away from the pin to board solder connections. Usually the plastic part and the pins can be wiggled around quite a lot with little motion from the metal bracket. Connectors with thru-hole style pin connections to the PCB tend fare a good deal better, than the trendy surface mount designs that end up not saving any space anyway.
I don't know if this sort of design is the result of just trying to be cheap, or the crackpot EMI zealots insisting that the connector be fully enveloped by a "shield". Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that until we start seeing connector designs where the metal bracket part is completely embedded within the plastic part of the connector, we'll continue to suffer from poor connector durability.
I might add that most USB connectors suffer from the same design flaws as HDMI connectors, though it tends to be less of a problem in practice, due to the much smaller, lighter cables used with USB, not to mention the much larger pins.