One of the great bugaboos of 4K/UHD HDR video is getting the signal from the source to the display via HDMI. Cables that worked with HD might not work with UHD HDR, especially over relatively long distances. At CEDIA, I found an intriguing solution to this problem—the Fibbr Ultra Pro fiber-optic HDMI cable .

Fibbr (pronounced "fiber") is a brand of China-based YOFC, a company that specializes in fiber optics. Electronics in the source connector convert electrical signals to optical pulses, which are send along the fiber-optic cable to the receiving connector, which converts the optical pulses back into electrical signals. The electronics in each connector are powered directly from the HDMI ports on the source and receiver; no external power is required.

There are four fiber-optic strands in each cable, three of which transmit 6 Gbps each, resulting in a total bandwidth of 18 Gbps. The fourth strand conveys the clock signal. In fact, the Ultra Pro was recently certified by ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) to reliably convey 18 Gbps.

"The true cost of this next wave of video media innovation is bandwidth," says Joel Silver, ISF's founder. "It's visually superior to anything we've had previously, with color-rich images and stunning clarity. After seeing catastrophic failures in the field, we realized the need for certification. Our ISF-trained installers deserve the confidence to know that they are working with reliable products that can support the current demanding standards. Our certification process involves robust field testing in addition to lab tests. We are confident that the products we certify remain reliable through rigorous field conditions."

The benefits of fiber-optic cables include the ability to send signals over much longer distances than copper cables can manage. The Fibbr Ultra Pro can sustain full bandwidth in cables up to 200 meters (656 feet) long! Fiber-optic cables are also much lighter in weight than copper cables—Fibbr claims that Ultra Pro is 60% lighter—and they are immune to electromagnetic interference.

In the Fibbr booth at CEDIA, a set-top streamer was connected to an LG 55B7 OLED TV with a 10-meter Ultra Pro. The streamer was playing a 4K/UHD HDR video file from a USB thumb drive, and it was received by the TV with no problem. Even more impressive, the cable was folded in a sharp 180° bend, which did not affect the transmission at all. Fibbr claims that its BendRobust technology allows a bend diameter of less than 2 mm without interrupting the signal.

Thanks to Fibbr's expertise in fiber optics, the Ultra Pro is super-bendable. The cable in the demo was folded over in a tighter bend than even Corning fiber-optic cables can tolerate.

I asked if the Ultra Pro supports ARC (Audio Return Channel), and I was disappointed to learn that it does not. According to Fibbr, ARC isn't all that important in Europe and Asia. When I pointed out that ARC is critical for getting audio from a TV's internal apps back to an AVR or pre/pro, I was assured that support for ARC would be added by the end of the year.

Fibbr was also previewing its next generation of fiber-optic HDMI cable, dubbed Ultra 8K. As the name implies, the cable will be able to convey 8K video at a data rate up to 56 Gbps over lengths up to 50 meters (164 feet). This exceeds the maximum datarate of 48 Gbps specified for HDMI 2.1, and it goes way beyond the length of any copper cable that can carry that much data.

Other than no support for ARC, the only downside to the Fibbr Ultra Pro is cost—the retail price for a 20m length is $300, while a 50m length is $600. But if your 4K/UHD HDR source and display are separated by more than a couple of meters, most copper cables are iffy at best. The Fibbr Ultra Pro is an elegant solution to a vexing problem in the brave new video world.