High-Def Cables Get Smarter

Posted by: Cliff Edwards on May 28, 2009

Is it time to throw out your HDTV and home theater equipment? Consumer eletronics makers sure hope so.

The consortium of companies that help create the standard for high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) cables just announced a new specification, called HDMI 1.4, that could further reduce cable clutter.

For the uninitiated, HDMI has quickly become the preferred method for transmitting video and audio from a set-top box to a television. Users need only one cable instead of two or more required of older analog TV sets.

The new HDMI 1.4 cables, which should become available early next year, add an Ethernet channel that will let two connected devices such as an HDTV and game console share an Internet link (meaning you don’t have to connect each and every device in your home wirelessly or via its own Ethernet cable).

The new spec also increases its data exchange rate in the event that data-intensive 3-D televisions take off, and add a neat feature in which new HDMI cables will automatically optimize a TV’s picture based on content types.

The catch? The new features in the HDMI 1.4 cables will work only with HDTVs and set-top boxes that go on sale beginning late this year.

That means many of us in the installed base of 1 billion devices will either have to make do with what we have until our current equipment conks out.

Reader Comments

Old Man Dotes

May 29, 2009 12:15 AM

"many of us in the installed base of 1 billion devices will either have to make do with what we have until our current equipment conks out"

Or? There's usually and "or" with an "either."

However, I think what we're going to see is HDMI 1.4 will get the same treatment Blu-Ray has - no one will go buy new gear just for HDMI 1.4. They'll get HDMI 1.4 if they need new gear anyway, and the uptake will be painfully slow.

Laptop Freak

May 29, 2009 6:36 AM

Sounds like HDMI 1.4 will make the cable twice as thick and heavy.

The Wii and PS3 has wifi the Xbox doesn't.

Laptops with HDMI are now more common and easy to hook up to a plasma or lcd.

I suppose it just gives the consumer another option but my money is on wireless.

dkj

May 29, 2009 9:37 AM

& what about those of us who have taken the leap & already have online computers connected to our TVs? i have a 17" iMac CD already connected to my HT set-up & can use my browser or Front Row w/ Google's "Understudy" to get all the online content i need, Netflix, Hulu, Joost, OTA & cable networks own websites are all available to me. as well, i have an 802.11(n) Wi-Fi network, so i also use my MacBook to connect to the web & watch online content on my bedroom TV. so this new standard offers me what? seemingly nothing more than the opportunity to have someone to separate me from more of my $$.

i agree w/ Old Man Dotes, if/when i need new gear i may "consider" the new standards, but cost will still be a determining factor, if the same model is available w/out this ability for considerably less, i might go that route. the cost to upgrade a BD player, HDTV & AVR all @ once would likely be necessary & could/would be prohibitive i think for most consumers. & there are still millions of households that aren't ready for the analog TV shut-off, let alone looking to have the latest & greatest tech to watch online content on their TVs or have a broadband connection to utilize the services/capabilities.

MarkHernandez

May 29, 2009 9:44 AM

I'm a computer engineer that hooked up our family's TiVo, PS3, Xbox, AppleTV, and a couple of DVD changers, to the surround sound receiver and Plasma TV, and programmed a Harmony remote to make it all dead simple to use by others. I used only HDMI connections, and there are still cables everywhere in the back, complicated by the differing equipment with too few HDMI inputs requiring automatic switch boxes. This new cable solves nothing except as a way for people to jack up the price and cheat people out of $125 for a "futureproof" cable when a $25 cable works EXACTLY the same. It's DIGITAL. What a scam. The cabling will be simpler only when all the differing mfgrs simplify their equipment, and that will never happen unless you buy every last thing from a single mfgr. Will Panasonic manufacture a TiVo, PS3, XBox, Apple TV and DVD changers? Ain't ever going to get simpler.

Burned Out

May 29, 2009 10:18 AM

It is going to similar to Microsoft's Vista. When the consumer ultimately decides it's time to buy new equipment they'll have it. Not before. AND most people aren't internet connected anyway.

Just look at Sony's Blu-Ray fiasco.

Brian

May 29, 2009 12:35 PM

I wonder what Burned Out means by "Just look at Sony's Blu-Ray fiasco."
For whatever problems the format has had it has given me the finest picture and sound quality available. I love it.
As for HDMI 1.4 ... I'll swap, but only when I need to upgrade my equipment.

Nighthawk

May 29, 2009 6:34 PM

Sounds like Burned Out is another disgruntled HD DVD owner.

As for HDMI 1.4, I was planning on getting a new TV this year or next - now I'll wait to get one with 1.4. Glad I waited.

monte

May 30, 2009 7:16 AM

And which one was to give us Deep Color for our TV sets, that never evolved. It will take awhile for this to come about also. So just save your money.

Keith

May 30, 2009 11:21 PM

I finally bought a new HDTV 3 weeks ago to replace my 10+ year old Samsung that at last conked out, and here comes an article telling me that what I bought show go in the trash can.

That's not going to happen. I will most likely watch this Samsung for 10 years like I did the old one. It's silly to think that people will constantly upgrade their equipment, particularly when you're paying a lot but not getting that much. It's *really* silly to think that in a down economy.

Jerry Johnson

June 2, 2009 1:55 PM

I've been with directv for 14 yrs.and went hd 2 and 1/2 yrs. ago the hdim cables I started out with cost about $4.00 each, then I sent and bought 5 1.3a cables for $3.00 each and I can't tell any difference in any of them, you can go and get the $120.00 monster and there are no difference

David Gutierrez

July 6, 2009 3:58 PM

Actually, the new HDMI 1.4 cables are legacy proof and will work with all existing HDMI versions!

Bob Ficalora

October 8, 2009 8:31 PM

I'm currently in the construction drawings stage of a 2,000 square foot addition to my home in Palm Beach, Florida. I have begun discussions with a professional soundstage company and my architect about setting up a stage area in the Main Living Room for professional audio and video productions.

I began my review of the HDMI spec after purchasing a Cannon Vixia camcorder... I already own a powerful, fully loaded Grass Valley HD Storm with Edius v5 system.

And then i discovered v1.4! The timing couldn't be better.

So it is back to my techies and the drawing board!

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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