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HDMI 1.4 Spec Coming Soon

April 30th, 2009

HDMI 1.3 not interesting enough for you? Welcome to the wonderful world of 1.4. While it hasn’t hit shelves yet, apparently it will soon. According to a press release at HDMI, the new spec will include:

  • Networking – Consolidation of HD video, HD audio and now high speed data with the addition of Ethernet in the HDMI cable.
  • Audio Return Channel – Elimination of a S/PDIF cable by allowing a TV to send audio streams upstream to an A/V receiver for processing and playback over the HDMI cable
  • Performance – 4kx2k and 3D are high performance features to be met by increasing the upper limit of the HDMI link
  • HD in your Car – New connector specification for the auto industry as worlds’ largest auto makers move to digital HD video and audio for 21st century cars with HDMI
  • Smaller connector – New smaller 19-pin connector

What does it mean for you? Who knows? But it sounds like your HDMI cable just got a whole lot more important. Audio return and Ethernet support are the features that should most excite an AV Rant listener. Just about every new product coming out seems to want to be connected to the Internet. While more specifics will follow after the embargo lifts on May 14th, it sounds like it’ll make things a bit easier. Audio return seems like a no-brainer as it will eliminate that extra cable from your TV to the receiver for those using Over the Air antennas.

Here are the questions you should be asking yourself – 1) will I need to upgrade my cable (yikes!) and 2) how long before we’ll see this stuff in a device you can own. There are a lot of the features in the current HDMI spec that aren’t fully utilized yet (including Deep Color) so adding 3-D support may be a bit premature. According to Silicon Image, they’ll be shipping products with HDMI 1.4 by the end of the year. That’s pretty quick. Look for more on this as it develops and as we’re allowed to release more info.

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  1. Rob
    May 1st, 2009 at 00:41 | #1

    For consumers’ sake, I wish the whole HDMI spec number thing would just go away. It confuses the heck out of people because far too many customers think that “HDMI 1.3” means they are getting certain features when, in fact, “HDMI 1.3” or “1.4” or what ever doesn’t really mean anything! It’s entirely possible that a “HDMI 1.2” device could actually have more features than a “HDMI 1.3” device. But people see “HDMI 1.3” and understandably assume that it must be “better”.

    And, of course, there is the whole cable issue. Nothing about the cables has changed. And yet we see “HDMI 1.3” cables and I’m sure we’ll see “HDMI 1.4” cables as well. No difference in the actual cable, but they stick that higher spec number on the box and up goes the price!

    Can I blame HDMI for having internal spec numbers and making press releases? No. Not really. But I do think they should have come up with MUCH better marketing and not allowed manufacturers, retailers and press to refer to the spec number at all!

    HDMI is HDMI – that should be the only message. If a certain device supports Deep Colour, xvColour, TrueHD bitstream, 4k resolution, etc., etc., ok…fine…that’s what it supports. THAT should be the message. NOT the HDMI spec number.

    Plenty of people have bought a “HDMI 1.3” receiver only to discover that it a “pass-through” receiver and doesn’t actually support TrueHD, DTS-HD or even 1080p resolution! But they see that “HDMI 1.3” sticker and get tricked because all the information out there is telling them that “HDMI 1.3” means certain features.

    Pisses me off :p

  2. Nelson
    May 1st, 2009 at 09:47 | #2

    It’s easy for the manufacturers to implement HDMI 1.4, just change the 1.3 chip set with a new 1.4 chip set. Done. The real problem come in when you want to start using that new 3D display (HMDI 1.4) with the 3D purple ray player you just bought (HDMI 1.4)but your receiver is HDMI 1.3. Sorry, have to upgrade everything in the chain to get that functionality.

    What the new spec does is allow equipment manufacturers to design in the new features they want without going to a new interconnect. I think we can all agree we don’t want yet another type of connection.

  3. mperfct
    May 1st, 2009 at 10:26 | #3

    I like what they have done, although I would have liked to see a locking capability developed in conjunction with this new smaller 19-pin connector, but maybe they just didn’t say anything about that.

    I also think this would be more appropriately named HDMI 2.0 as much stuff as this new iteration is going to change. Features I especially like include the audio return channel and the networking functionality.

    As for Rob’s and Nelson’s concerns, I hear what you are saying. HDMI seems to have come to market as undeveloped if not worse than the half-baked crap known as blu-ray. I haven’t been in A/V long enough to know if the industry has always been like this, but I’ve never seen anything like all of these constant firmware updates/recalls/compatibility issues that we all seem to be embroiled in.

    Personally, I don’t think I’ll be changing my equipment (Mits HC-6500 PJ/Pio SC-07 receiver/Pio BDP-51fd BRP) until 3d blu-ray becomes more prevalent, should that even happen. I wonder what version of HDMI will be out then?

    Regards~ Chris

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