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What Is HDMI?

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), a relatively new technology, is an interconnectivity standard. The HDMI specification began development in 2002 when a consortium of electronics companies came together to create an all-digital interface standard for the consumer electronics and personal computer markets. The goal was to create an AV connector that was backward-compatible with DVI. Together, companies including Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson and Toshiba formed HDMI Licensing, LLC. Today, this group is the agent responsible for licensing the HDMI specification, promoting the HDMI standard and providing education on the benefits of the HDMI specification to adopters, retailers and consumers. What does HDMI do? The HDMI specification was developed for the consumer home theater and computer markets and offers significant advantages over existing analog A/V interfaces. It transfers uncompressed, digital format, high-definition video and multi-channel audio over a single cable. It controls signals between components. It treats PCs and home theater components the same, eliminating the need for a converter box. It provides greater resolution, upwards of 1440p. It helps reduce the maze and clutter of existing analog A/V cables. Additionally, HDMI and DVI video signals are identical, allowing a cable to connect to HDMI on one end and DVI on the other. What are the different versions? Like all emerging technologies, HDMI has experienced several improvements since it was first introduced. Each permutation has brought with it more capabilities but also has brought confusion along for the ride as well. The versions are assigned a number; the first 1.0, and the most recent 1.4a. Each version of the specification uses the same connectors, but concurrent versions increase the bandwidth and/or capabilities of what can be transmitted. The evolution of the versions is listed below: HDMI 1.0: Released December 2002 Single-cable digital audio/video connector interface Maximum data bit rate of 4.9Gbps Maximum resolution 1080x/60 Hz (UXGA) Supports 24-bit color depth; palette 17 million colors Supports up to 192 kHZ audio frequencies Supports DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio standards HDMI 1.1: Released May 2004 Improves DVD Audio format support Provides required content protection metadata HDMI 1.2: Released August 2005 Adds new connector (HDMI Type A) for PC sources Support for One Bit Audio, Direct Stream Digital and Super Audio CD (SACD) Support for low-voltage video cards (e.g. PCI-express cards) HDMI 1.2a: Released December 2005 Improved testing and certification requirements, fully specifying Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) features, command sets, and CEC compliance tests HDMI 1.3: Released June 2006 Increases single-link bandwidth to 340 MHz* Increases maximum data bit rate of 10.2 Gbps Increases maximum resolution of 2360 x 1440 (1440p) Supports up to 48-bit color depth; palette 280 trillion colors Support for Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats Implementation of mini-HDMI (Type C) connector for portable devices Added cable Category 1 (tested up to 74.25 MHz) and Category 2 (tested up to 340 MHz.) *Required a redesigned cable for higher bandwidths HDMI 1.3a: Released November 2006 Improved testing and certification requirements Cable and Sink modifications for Type C connector HDMI 1.3b: Released March 2007 HDMI 1.3b1: Released November 2007 HDMI 1.3c : Released August 2008 Updated specifications for manufacturer testing of HDMI compliance HDMI 1.4: Released May 2009 Increases maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 at 24 Hz/25 Hz/30 Hz Increases maximum resolution of 4096 x 2160 at 24 Hz Adds HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC) with 100 Mb/s Ethernet connection allowing connection to Internet-ready devices Introduces Audio Return Channel Introduces Micro HDMI Connector Introduces Automotive Connection Supports 3D Over HDMI formats including field alternative (interlaced), frame packing (a full resolution top-bottom format), line alternative full, side-by-side half, side-by-side full, 2D + depth, and 2D + depth + graphics + graphics depth (WOWvx) HDMI 1.4a: Released March 2010 Adds two mandatory 3D broadcast, game and movie content Adding to the confusion of the capabilities of each new version was the introduction of two main categories of HDMI Cables, standard and high-speed. Category 1 (standard cable) is capable of speeds up to 4.95Gbps and resolutions up to 1080i. Category 2 (high-speed cable) is capable of speeds up to 10.2Gbps and the associated higher resolutions. Additionally it supports deep color, Lossless audio, CEC control, faster refresh rates and other features of HDMI 1.3, and HDMI 1.4. The founders of HDMI are a forward-looking group. When improving HDMI specifications they take into account the potential support needed for future capabilities and features not yet even designed. Choosing the right HDMI cable depends on the features of the devices to be connected. Keep in mind, if the HDMI cable will be installed in a wall, selecting a higher rated cable will allow for taking advantage of these future features and improvements to HDMI technology, saving the trouble of removing and replacing the cable later. At Falcon Tech, our reps. are able to answer all of your HDMI questions and help you select the best HDMI products for your installation including cables, switches, splitters, extenders, repeaters, boosters and more.