High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) Buying Guide

In recent years, we have seen how developments on the means of transmitting video and audio data from a player module, such as a DVD player, to a viewing equipment which is your TV, improved our home theater systems. From the old RF cables, to RCA, to S-Video cable, to Component Video, and finally to the present HDMI cables, we have found every upgrade beneficial to our viewing experience.

The new HDMI or High Definition Multimedia Interface format is able to transmit large amounts of digital and audio data over one cable. The technology was developed by Sony, Hitachi, Thomson (RCA), Philips, Matsushita (Panasonic), Toshiba and Silicon Image. HDMI now is considered as the standard for high definition TV and the consumer electronics market in general.

If before, during the RF cable days, transmitting both audio and video through one cable results to poor quality image and sound, recent technological developments both in the field of hardware and file compression have made HDMI capable of transmitting high-definition video, multi-channel audio, and command data over a single cable.

Moreover, HDMI technology can transmit uncompressed digital video and audio content. Its success in the digital world, in fact, has made Hollywood studios and cable and satellite operators support HDMI.

The first HDMI was version 1.0 and came out in December 2002. This version practically laid down the new foundation of one-wire transmission of audio and video. Two years later on May 2004, HDMI version 1.1 was released. It contained minor updates particularly allowing content protection for DVD audio.

A year later, HDMI version 1.2 was released. This new version released in August 2005 gives better versatility by allowing for One Bit Audio support. One Bit Audio support is used for Super Audio CDs (SACD) with allowance for up to eight channels of digital audio. An update, HDMI 1.2a was released later on, which allowed HDMI devices to communicate with each other.

The latest version is HDMI 1.3 which got approved in June 2006 had already received an update, the 1.3a, November of last year even before its full release. Another update, the HDMI 1.3b is said to be underway. Regardless, the new HDMI 1.3 is now the standard in HDTV and other products that utilize high definition formats.

What HDMI manufacturers did was increase the data-carrying bandwidth and made 1.3 capable of handling from 165MHz to 340MHz. Because of the increased in bandwidth, picture and sound quality is improved dramatically. The device also improved the allowance for lossless audio decoding by capable A/V receivers of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD codec data streams.

However, some argues that HDMI 1.3 offers features that are not yet available from source players like HD DVDs or Blu-rays. For example, 1.3 can transmit extended color ranges but present HD DVDs and Blu-rays are not yet capable of producing such quality images. Critiques argue that older versions of HDMI are more than enough to get the best of what present Blu-ray or HD DVD has to offer and thus, there is no need to worry about updating to 1.3, at the moment.

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