HDMI 1.4: 10 things you need to know

18th Aug 2009 | 09:00

HDMI 1.4: 10 things you need to know

Your complete guide to the next HDMI standard

Higher resolution and 3D TV

The next-generation of HDMI interface has been rubber-stamped by the HDMI Licensing consortium. HDMI 1.4 isn't just a small upgrade, either.

With one eye firmly on the digital home there are several significant improvements to the technology, including integrated data connectivity and support for 3D. Here's what you need to know:

1. HDMI 1.4 features an integrated Ethernet channel

The new version of HDMI adds a bi-directional IP data channel to allow devices to send and receive data at full Ethernet speeds (ie up to 100Mbps). This basically eliminates the need for a separate Ethernet cable and enables web-capable devices (with HDMI 1.4 connectors) to share their internet connection with other HDMI gadgets. For example, an HDMI 1.4-equipped amp could act as the internet hub of a home cinema system, sharing its broadband access with a connected TV or set-top box.

2. There's support for dual-stream 1080p 3D

HDMI 1.4 defines several 3D formats for HDMI-enabled devices, including 'frame alternative', 'line alternative' and 'field alternative' methods, 'Side by side' methods (full and half) and '2D plus depth' methods. The new specification is also capable of handling dual-stream 3D resolutions up to 1080p. Having already made an impact on the big screen, 3D TV is arguably the 'next big thing' in home entertainment. Sky has recently announced its intention to launch a 3D channel, while 3D gaming experiments have already been conducted on the PC and PS3.

3. HDMI 1.4 supports "extremely high HD resolutions"

Specifically, HDMI 1.4 provides support for 4K x 2K resolutions, which is effectively four times the pixel-perfection of a current 1080p device. This allows HDMI 1.4 to handle digital video in the same resolution as current digital cinema systems. Formats supported by HDMI 1.4 include: 3840 x 2160 pixels at 24Hz, 25Hz and 30Hz; and 4096 x 2160 pixels at 24Hz.

4K resolution

HIGHER DEF:HDMI 1.4 provides support for 4K resolution TVs. That's 4096 x 2160 pixels at 24Hz

4. There's a new Audio Return Channel...

According to HDMI.org, "in cases where a TV features an internal content source, such as a built-in tuner or DVD player, the Audio Return Channel allows the TV to send audio data upstream to the A/V receiver via the HDMI cable, eliminating the need for an extra cable."

5. … And extended support for color spaces

Specifically, HDMI 1.4 includes support for sYCC601, Adobe RGB, and Adobe YCC601 to enable colours to be more accurately reproduced when viewing digital photos on your digital telly.

HDMI 1.4 cables and TVs

6. HDMI 1.4 boasts two new connection options

The first new HDMI format is a Micro Connector aimed at bringing HDMI connectivity to dinky devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras and portable media players. The HDMI Micro Connector (designated Type D) retains the original HDMI Connector's 19-pin interface. HDMI 1.4 also specifies a Type E Automotive Connection System to be used in distributing HD content around a vehicle.

Micro hdmi

FIRST OFF: The new Micro HDMI Connector is designed to add HDMI connectivity to phones and multimedia gadgets

7. HDMI 1.4 won't work with your existing HDMI-equipped gear

The official word from HDMI.org is that "most of the new features introduced in HDMI 1.4 will require a new HDMI chip to enable, and cannot be upgraded via firmware." That said, with 3D TV in its infancy and 720p/1080p HD TV only just gaining a consumer foothold, HDMI 1.3 still delivers the goods. You could argue that you don't even need an integrated data channel, as new TVs and set-top boxes are now including Ethernet jacks as standard.

8. You'll need to buy a new high-def TV

It's all very well providing support for 4K x 2K resolutions and 3D, but this means that your current 1080p telly just won't cut it in tomorrow's Ultra HD/3D future.

9. You'll need to buy new HDMI cables

The new HDMI 1.4 spec will muddy the waters with new cables – a Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet (which supports data rates up to 720p/1080i) and a High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet (featuring 1080p support, Deep Color and 3D support). An Automotive HDMI cable will also be available for in-vehicle video distribution. Oh, and don't expect them to come cheap.

10. We won't see HDMI 1.4 devices until mid-2010

Next year's Consumer Electronics Show should see several HDMI 1.4-compatible devices introduced from the big CE manufacturers. We might even see HDMI 1.4 on show at IFA in Berlin. Bizarrely, NXG has already announced a Black Pearl Series HDMI 1.4 cable, despite the fact that there's absolutely nothing to plug it into.

NXG hdmi 1.4 cable

EARLY:NXG has already produced an HDMI cable that's compatible with the forthcoming HDMI 1.4 standard

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Liked this? Then check out HDMI 1.4 specs explained

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