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HDMI 1.4

June 3, 2009

Click the images below for bigger versions:
Now (without HEC)
With HEC

Time to ditch all your gear... again.

Just when you got a handle on HDMI 1.3, here comes 1.4. While this is sure to elicit a groan from many, 1.4 has a host of new features that are actually very, very cool.

Starting with the ability to send Internet data over HDMI.

I'll let the gravity of that sink in while you click...

There's this new thing out there CE companies have just discovered called "The Internet." It's got all this data and stuff. The trick is getting it from the 'tubes into your living room. WiFi is the easiest, then long runs of Cat-5 being quite a bit less easy. Not to mention you probably have several pieces of gear that can/want to acess the Internet.

 Now (without HEC)

HDMI 1.4 has what they're calling HDMI Enternet Channel, or HEC. This IP over HDMI allows you to hook up one of your components to the Web (say, a TV with built-in WiFI) and then every component hooked to it via HDMI 1.4 can also access the Web.

A couple of caveats. Of course each of the components would have to have HDMI 1.4, and be built to talk to each other. A manufacturer can choose to implement this feature in different ways. The logical way would be to have the TV or receiver as the "hub," with the sources getting their Internet from the connection to the TV.

Oh, and you need a cable that is 1.4 rated. Current HDMI cables will probably work, but because the HEC uses a previously unused pin as part of a twisted pair, it's not guaranteed older cables will work with HEC. Look for cable companies to charge outrageously for HEC-rated cables even though there is absolutely NO reason for any extra cost.

The coolness of HEC goes further than just simplifying system hookup. Because information over HEC is regular data (not just video data) content copying can be easier. Think of it this way, all those photos on your Apple TV can now be recorded on DVD using your new DVD recorder, no extra cables.
HEC is the big new feature, and it has tremendous potential.

While not quite as exciting, there are a few more features of 1.4.

 With HEC

Audio Return Channel (ARC) is exactly how it sounds. For those that use the tuner inside their TV, with 1.4 you can now send the audio from that internal tuner out of the TV and back into your receiver, obviating the need for extra optical or analog stereo cables. This can be done with existing HDMI cables, but the equipment needs to be able to support it (on both ends).

Then there's a few things that don't have much use now, but are good to have. HDMI 1.4 will transmit most of the current 3Di formats and resolutions. It will also transmit 4kX2k resolutions, but this is mostly for commercial/professional applications.

There's a new micro HDMI connector that looks an awful lot like a micro USB connector. It does everything "normal" sized HDMI does, just smaller. It's for portable devices. Speaking of portable, there's a car connector too. This has an interlocking connector so the cable won't fall out when you go over a bump. This is a feature it would be nice if regular HDMI had.

It will probably be a while before we see full use of HEC. For that matter, it will be some time before we see wide adoption of 1.4. Regardless, I'm actually excited to see what can be done to create a sort of web-enabled entertainment hub with HEC. Short of WiFi in every product (a long way off), this is a big step in consumer electronics.

Looks like we'll all be buying new receivers again...


i agree...

I hope a system with a lot of internet-enabled components won't cause a bottle neck of data at the TV or receiver. I hope HEC accounts for high traffic for the internet connection.

HDMI 1.4 also brings in a standard format to allow for TV's with 120hz or higher to display 3Di images. I cant wait :) specially as I can see that within the next few years 3D movies will explode. (there are already 6-7 coming out to the cinema this year, although be it for "Kiddies" but its a starting point)

I can't wait either. Avatar and A Christmas Carol appear to be family friendly and Final Destination for teens and up. There are more adult 3Di movies in the pipeline.

I have no use for sending the internet into my living room. People are not going to ditch their gear just to upgrade to this. I hope that this nonsense does not come soon.

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