But video formats have not stopped evolving and over the last 17 years the HDMI standard has also had to change to accommodate new technologies like 3D, HDR or 4K. The multiple versions, combined with the fact that on the outside all the cables are the same, are enough to give the head of any consumer a knot.
That's why we wrote this article, detailing the evolution of the standard and what features are supported by each version, plus a quick guide to help you choose the right cable.
Note that some versions of the HDMI standard have experienced small increments over time, such as HDMI 1.3 (which had revisions a, b and c). These are often designed to clarify confusing points of specification, or to add minor enhancements or features to manufacturers' request. Not to extend this article too much, we will not go into the detail of these versions.
Which HDMI cable do I buy?
Physically the HDMI cables all look identical, since the connector is the same as always. But there are different types of cables, which can be classified according to the bandwidth they support. The higher the bandwidth, the more data can be transmitted, and more features are supported.
Buttered bread is Standard or Category 1 cable. If all you want to do is connect a Blu-Ray player (like a Playstation 3) to a Full HD TV, that's what you need. Because the cables are backward compatible, any HDMI cable you find at the bottom of a drawer will suit you.
If you want more advanced features like 3D, you will need a faster cable, known as High Speed or Category 2. Popularly they may be known as HDMI 1.4 cable, although the name is not technically correct (again, the standard has versions). , the cable no).
For 4K and HDR, features that debuted in version 2.0 of the standard, you will need an even faster cable. They are known as Premium High Speed. But if you want to use HDMI 2.1 standard features such as higher resolutions (8K), Dolby Vision or HDR +, there is no way: you will need an Ultra High Speed cable, also known as Category 3 or 48G (width reference). 48 Gigabit per second band).
Still in doubt? This little table should help you choose the right cable, according to what you want.
Key features that are supported by each version
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One thing that should be clear that cables do not influence the quality of the image. A $ 200 Standard Cable will not give you a magically better image than a $ 50 Standard Cable no matter what material it is made of.
Manufacturers try to gild the pill to profit more by offering gold-plated, high-purity copper or reinforced mesh cables, but in practice that makes no difference. Beware of salesman talk.
The family patriarch was launched in 2002 to support the nascent technology of high definition TVs. With it came support for resolutions of up to 1920 x 1080 pixels at 60 frames per second (FPS), also known as 1080p, and 8 192kHz / 24-bit PCM audio channels. The maximum bandwidth is 4.9 Gigabits per second.
The HDMI connector as we know it today also came up with this version, and has greatly simplified the connection between TV and audio and video equipment. For example, to connect a DVD player to a TV using a narrow sound component video connection required five cables: three for video (Y, Pb and Pr) and two for the left and right sound channels. All of this has been replaced by just one HDMI cable. A small revision called HDMI 1.1 was released in 2004. It has added support for the DVD-Audio audio format, which has never become popular.
Announced in 2005, this version is tailored for personal computers, standardizing connectors and electrical specifications as an alternative to the DisplayPort standard. If you often connect your desktop or notebook TV, you can thank HDMI 1.2. Version 1.2a added support for Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) technology, which allows one HDMI device to control another remotely.
The major change in version 1.3, announced in June 2006, was the increase in bandwidth from 4.9 to 10.2 Gigabits per second. With it also came support for new color spaces, at 10, 12 or 16 bits per channel, against 8 bits in the original version.
The Mini HDMI connector (also called Type C HDMI), used in more compact devices, also debuted in this release. HDMI 1.3 was the version of the standard with the most adjustments: in just over 2 years versions a, b, b1 and c were announced, all without major changes from the consumer's point of view.
Version 1.4, announced in May 2009, brought several significant changes to the standard. From a consumer standpoint the most important were 3D video support and 4K x 2K (3840 x 2160 pixels) resolution support at 24, 25 and 30 frames per second.
Standard 1.4 also supports an ethernet connection via the same cable used for audio and video, allowing network communication between two connected devices without the need for an extra cable for this. In addition, the specification implements an audio return channel, allowing the TV to send sound to a receiver, for example, which previously required an extra cable.
It was also here that came the Micro HDMI connector, which came to be used in some smartphones such as Motorola RAZR and RAZR MAXX. Who remembers?
This version came out in September 2013 and brought another leap in bandwidth, which now reaches 18 Gigabits per second, more than three times the bandwidth of the original standard. Thanks to this, 4K resolution is supported at 50 or 60 frames per second, up to 32 audio channels, two video streams on the same screen and 21: 9 format video. If you buy a 4K TV, you can be sure that it supports at least HDMI 2.0.
Version 2.0 added support for HDR (High Dynamic Range), technology that expands the range of possible colors in the image, resulting in more vivid and realistic scenes and much more detail in images, especially in very dark scenes. If you watched Battle of Winterfell in Season 8 of Game of Thrones and saw almost nothing in the dark, because your TV does not support HDR.
Another leap in bandwidth, HDMI 2.1 a version with eyes on the future. It can now transmit up to 48 Gigabits / second (Ultra High Speed), supporting resolutions such as 4K, 5K, 8K and 10K, and frame rates of 50, 60, 100 or 120 frames per second.
There is also support for what is called Dynamic HDR: The signal source can tell TV how to adjust the frame-by-frame image for the best possible image quality and color fidelity. This technology better known by trade names like Dolby Vision and HDR10 +.
We barely started the 4K migration and the handset makers are already thinking about 10K. How do you imagine TV in the future?
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