Just bought a brand spanking new High Definition TV?
Proud of its dual HDMI connectors?
Aware that they are already out of date?
That’s right. In a move that typifies the speed with which the technology sector evolves HDMI Licensing – the umbrella group for companies that utilise HDMI – has announced a pivotal upgrade to the specification.
Termed ‘HDMI 1.3’ it will more than double the single link bandwidth of the existing HDMI 1.1 standard from 165MHz (4.95Gbps) to 340MHz (10.2Gbps) to “enable the next generation of HDTVs, PCs and DVD players” to support higher resolutions, ‘Deep Colour’ technology and higher frame rates. Furthermore, in an attempt to future proof, HDMI Licensing says the technical foundation that will let future versions of HDMI reach even higher speeds has been inbuilt into HDMI 1.3.
So let’s break down some of these points. What exactly is Deep Colour? Well, the name essentially says it all: with HDMI 1.1 24bit colour depths are the maximum supported while HDMI 1.3 goes further with 30, 36 and 48bit (RGB or YCbCr) colour depths now available. In a nutshell this means HDTVs go from displaying millions of colours to billions of colours, it eliminates on-screen colour banding for smooth tonal transitions and subtle gradations between colours, enables an increased contrast ratio and typically offers 8x more shades of gray between black and white.
Next up HDMI 1.3 incorporates an automatic audio/video synching capability since “electronics devices are using increasingly complex digital signal processing to enhance the clarity and detail of the content and synchronization of video and audio in user devices has also become a greater challenge and could potentially require complex end-user adjustments”.
In addition to HDMI’s current ability to support high-bandwidth uncompressed digital audio and currently-available compressed formats (such as Dolby Digital and DTS), HDMI 1.3 adds additional support for new, lossless compressed digital audio formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
Finally a new mini connector will appear for devices such as HD camcorders and still camera to create a seamless connectivity to HDTVs.
Now the good news in all of this is HDMI 1.3 will be backward compatible with HDMI 1.1 hardware. Of course the downside – much like USB1.1 verses USB2.0 – is that while the two will work together HDMI 1.1 performance bottleneck cannot magically be increased to HDMI 1.3 levels.
Support for HDMI 1.3 is industry wide however meaning that all devices will eventually be produced to this standard. On the back of the announcement Sony has already confirmed the PlayStation 3 will utilise HDMI 1.3 while rumours are abound that the standard’s finalisation has lead to the recent delays of Samsung’s Blu-ray players as the company makes the swap over.
So soon we’re all likely to have HDMI 1.3 capable players which we run through our existing bandwidth constricted HDMI 1.1 high definition TVs. Technology can be cruel sometimes but then again I did suggest, if at all possible, that you wait until after the World Cup before making a decision…