Since the first HDMI version, 1.0, HDMI has gone through 1.2 and 1.3, and quite a few sub-versions to get to the latest, version 1.4. These versions are often too confusing for the regular consumer, which is the main reason the HDMI Licensing has decided that they should no longer be used in cables or HDMI-ready devices. The truth is that for most setups, even 1.0 cable will work just fine and only a handful consumers need or care about the features, supported by the subsequent versions. The development of the HDMI interface is done in order to keep up with the latest technological developments, but many of the features that the 1.4 version supports are not supported by any hardware on the market.
What are the HDMI 1.4 only features?
Ethernet channel – the Ethernet channel allows data to be transferred from the source to the HDMI display and back at up to 100 Mb/sec speed. This feature could be useful in near future and instead of linking every single source to the Internet, only the TV could be connected and then the data could be transferred to any of the sources, connected via and HDMI cable to that TV. Of course, the wisdom behind such as setup is questionable, but the capability is certainly there – at the time of this writing, there is no hardware that supports this feature.
Another HDMI 1.4 only feature is the Audio return channel, which allows audio to be transmitted upstream and downstream – for instance, a TV with built-in DVD player could be connected to an audio system and the audio surround audio controller or A/V receiver. Since the LipSync feature, which was introduced in version 1.3, is present in 1.4, the audio remains synced to the video and ensures excellent experience.
The support for 4K × 2K resolution – the HDMI 1.4 cables support 4096×2160p24 resolution over a single link at 24-bit/px, 30-bit/px, and 36-bit/px. This is four times the 1080p resolution and it will allow home theatre users to enjoy the same quality picture, delivered by top of the line digital cinema projectors. Of course, the higher resolution also means higher bandwidth, which could be an obstacle for satellite and cable channels, as well as Internet content delivery systems.
Another feature, which was introduced with the 1.3 version, is 3D over HDMI, which is capable of supporting some of the already used 3D technologies. Even though there is no standard 3D format, the HDMI interface is ready to work with most 3D-ready hardware and is likely to be compatible with many devices, which will be manufactured in the near future.