Just as you’re getting comfortable with HDMI 1.3 and all of its glorious 3D capability, a new kid by the name of HDMI 1.4 has come to town, to shake things up yet again. This time around, in addition to all of the 3D good stuff, 1.4 is going where no HDMI cable has gone before: the Internet. That’s right. On top of all the high-def digital audio and video, the latest HDMI standard has a built-in data connection, so you can finally toss the separate Ethernet cord. Sound interesting? Let’s take a quick look at everything HDMI 1.4 has to offer.
Thanks to a built-in Ethernet Channel, HDMI 1.4 now allows your TV, receiver and other home theater components to be connected directly to Ethernet-enabled devices without the assistance of a separate Ethernet cord. This bi-directional, high-speed networking (at up to 100 MB per second) means that viewing Internet-based content and gaming on a PS3 or Xbox just got a whole lot easier.
To make things even better, HDMI 1.4 also lets multiple devices share a single Ethernet connection, and is compatible with both current and upcoming IP technologies, like IPTV, DLNA, LiquidHD and UPnP.
3D, Resolution and Color
Just like HDMI 1.3, 1.4 supports 3D, but this time around,it’s doing a lot more in the way of setting standard 3D resolutions and formats for HDMI gadgets. And while 1080p may be the top-of-the-line format available in HDTVs, HDMI 1.4 is actually able to achieve 4 times that, delivering resolutions up to 4K x 2K. In addition, color delivery for digital still images has become even more natural and lifelike with the new standard, thanks to HDMI 1.4 being able to support Adobe RGB, Adobe YCC601, and sYCC601.
Unlike its predecessors, HDMI 1.4 features an Audio Return Channel, which lets your HDTV send an audio signal to your home theater receiver and on to, say, your Surround Sound system, without running a separate audio cable between your TV and receiver. All the same sound, one less cable. Nice.
A Smaller Connector and More Connection Options
There was a time when mini HDMI connectors were considered a feat, but the 1.4 standard has shrunken things even further with the micro HDMI. At around half the size of a mini, the 19-pin micro HDMI isn’t the standard 1.4 connector, but is an option if you want to connect to portable electronics at a resolution up to 1080p.
And speaking of new connectivity options, did we mention that HDMI 1.4 has gone automotive? This is the first HDMI standard to make in-vehicle HD distribution possible, by connecting HD portable gadgets with high-def devices in your car or truck. Automotive HDMI 1.4 cables are even designed to withstand environment-specific factors like heat, vibration and interference, so they’ll hold up well on wheels.
Before we turn you loose to discover the joys of HDMI 1.4 firsthand, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- While HDMI 1.4 cables are backward compatible with the earlier HDMI standards, they're only able to fully function in a networking capacity if they're plugged into dedicated "HEC" (HDMI Ethernet Channel) ports. That means that you need HDMI 1.4-enabled devices to reap all of the benefits.
- If you’re in doubt of the HDMI 1.4-compatibility of your devices, start out for looking for the surest sign, a port (or ports) labeled "HEC." If you can't find any HEC ports, contact the component’s manufacturer – they’ll be able to tell you for sure.
- HDMI 1.4 is a perfect fit for tech and A/V buffs who like to constantly upgrade their equipment. Since the standard was designed to work with both current and future technologies, HDMI cables will be able to keep up as you update your system, and remember: more and more devices are now being equipped with HDMI 1.4 ports.