HDMI 1.4: What You Need to Know

Over the years, we’ve covered the switch from analog to digital video with DVI, then DVI with HDCP, and finally HDMI and all its incarnations. In January, we blogged about the new HDMI 1.4 standard, but thought it was time for another update.

As many readers know, HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It transmits uncompressed digital video and audio over a single, compact cable. The type, amount and speed of data the cable carries expands with each HDMI release.

The latest HDMI release, version 1.4, includes the following features:

  • Ethernet Channel
  • Audio Return Channel
  • 3D Over HDMI
  • 4K x 2K Resolution Support
  • Expanded Support for Color Spaces
  • Micro Connector
  • Automotive Connection System

Sounds awesome, right? You can’t wait to get one, right? Well, good luck finding a “HDMI 1.4” cable.

See, the HDMI consortium has banned manufacturers from displaying the standard (i.e. 1.4, 1.3 or 1.3b) on product packaging. Instead, manufacturers are encouraged to list the cables’ features.

(Ironically, the HDMI consortium doesn’t follow its own rules. At HDMI.org, there’s a flashy graphic advertising “HDMI 1.4”)

We talked with Martin Fensterstock, Sales & Product Marketing Manager at Comprehensive, about the HDMI group’s new policy.

“The version numbers just confused a lot of people. Too many people thought they needed the latest and greatest release, or the highest version number,” he said. “People should be concerned about what the cable is capable of, not what version it is.”

Moral of the story: when the time comes to buy a new HDMI cable, your best bet is to figure out the features you want (ok, need) and shop for them, not for the release number.

For more answers on the latest HDMI specification, formerly known as “HDMI 1.4,” check out this FAQ page. As always, our Projector Experts are standing by to help you pick the best HDMI cable for your Home Theater setup.

New HDMI 1.4 Standard : Set to Stun?

HDMI 1.4 Release

A new standard for HDMI cable technology has just been announced. HDMI version 1.4 ups the performance of version 1.3 but there are multiple ‘catches’ to the new face of HDMI.

What’s Great About HDMI 1.4?

There’s a lot to be excited about with the new HDMI 1.4 release. First off, it’s a smaller connector than version 1.3. But, more importantly it includes HD cabling for ethernet, 3-D content and even a cable for your automobile. But what might catch many buyers off guard is what they have to know before making the upgrade. Essentially, there are several HDMI 1.4 options and they all do something different. Here are the new features taken directly from the HDMI.org’s website press release on HDMI 1.4.

The HDMI 1.4 specification will offer the following enhanced functionalities:

HDMI 1.4 Release

HDMI Ethernet Channel

The HDMI 1.4 specification will add a data channel to the HDMI cable and will enable high-speed bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature will be able to send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, making them instantly ready for any IP-based application.

The HDMI Ethernet Channel will allow an Internet-enabled HDMI device to share its Internet connection with other HDMI devices without the need for a separate Ethernet cable. The new feature will also provide the connection platform to allow HDMI-enabled devices to share content between devices.

Audio Return Channel

The new specification will add an Audio Return Channel that will reduce the number of cables required to deliver audio upstream for processing and playback. In cases where HDTVs are directly receiving audio and video content, this new Audio Return Channel allows the HDTV to send the audio stream to the A/V receiver over the HDMI cable, eliminating the need for an extra cable.

3D Over HDMI

The 1.4 version of the specification will define common 3D formats and resolutions for HDMI-enabled devices. The specification will standardize the input/output portion of the home 3D system and will specify up to dual-stream 1080p resolution.

4K x 2K Resolution Support

The new specification will enable HDMI devices to support high-definition (HD) resolutions four times beyond the resolution of 1080p. Support for 4K x 2K will allow the HDMI interface to transmit content at the same resolution as many digital theaters. Formats supported include:

3840×2160 24Hz/25Hz/30Hz
4096×2160 24Hz

Expanded Support For Color Spaces

HDMI technology now supports color spaces designed specifically for digital still cameras. By supporting sYCC601, Adobe RGB and AdobeYCC601, HDMI-enabled display devices will be capable of reproducing more accurate life-like colors when connected to a digital still camera.

Micro HDMI Connector

The Micro HDMI Connector is a significantly smaller 19-pin connector that supports up to 1080p resolutions for portable devices. This new connector is approximately 50% smaller than the size of the existing HDMI Mini Connector.

Automotive Connection System

The Automotive Connection System is a cabling specification designed to be used as the basis for in-vehicle HD content distribution. The HDMI 1.4 specification will provide a solution designed to meet the rigors and environmental issues commonly found in automobiles, such as heat, vibration and noise. Using the Automotive Connection System, automobile manufactures will now have a viable solution for distributing HD content within the car.

Sound awesome, right? But, here’s the catch. To get all these features, you would have to buy five different cables. What? There will be five cable options for HDMI 1.4, and they will each have a different set of capabilities. Oooh, and it’s not going to be compatible with your current HDMI components. Womp womp waaaaaah. More from the HDMI.org website :

Consumers will have a choice of the following HDMI cables:

  • Standard HDMI Cable – supports data rates up to 1080i/60;
  • High Speed HDMI Cable – supports data rates beyond 1080p, including Deep Color and all 3D formats of the new 1.4 specification;
  • Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet – includes Ethernet connectivity;
  • High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet – includes Ethernet connectivity;
  • Automotive HDMI Cable – allows the connection of external HDMI-enabled devices to an in-vehicle HDMI device.

So, when the new cables are released, be prepared for confusion in the marketplace, and be ready for some serious upselling at your local electronics stores. Our advice is to be prepared about the standard before you make a purchase. Cables are expensive! Except our cables, of course.

When will you see HDMI 1.4 on the shelves? Sometime after June 30th manufacturers will be able to download all of the technical information need to manufacture the new cables.

Read more from About Home Theater here : Run Down on Features of HDMI Versions 1.0 – 1.4

(source : Robert Silva, About.com Home Theater)