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D-Tools MVP member Kordz brings us some common “Facts and Myths” regarding HDMI. HDMI is one of the most exciting and innovative technologies to effect consumer electronics in a long while. While the added benefits of HDMI are many, there still is confusion surrounding HDMI, its capabilities, and its features.  Here are some common facts and myths that should make understanding HDMI just a little bit easier. Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me directly: Michael Schaller.

Facts and Myths

HDMI is an extensive, technical specification licensed and implemented by many manufacturers. There are many misconceptions, caveats and marketing terms to add further confusion. Here we try to correct some common myths.


MYTH

An HDMI cable labeled as version 1.3 will always be compatible with the full set of advanced features of HDMI 1.3, including 1080p, Deep Color, HD Audio etc.

FACT

Wrong. In fact it is possible for a HDMI 1.3 cable to be fully certified and still NOT even be able to pass 1080p.

There are actually two distinct certification standards for HDMI 1.3 cables:

  • Standard Speed (1.3 Cat.1 test) for SD and broadcast HD up to 720p/1080i
  • High Speed (1.3 Cat.2 test) for FULL HD 1080p+ resolution. Includes full feature set compatibility, including Deep Color, and advanced audio formats

It is also worth mentioning that many ‘Standard Speed’ HDMI cables can also support more than the minimum requirements, adding support for features such as 1080p (at 24bit). This will vary with length and model, so it is worth checking with the manufacturer.


MYTH

All switchers (including AV Receivers) that are labeled 1.3 can switch whatever HDMI features the source (such as a Blu-Ray player) provides.

FACT

HDMI switchers are like any other HDMI device in that they may or may not support certain features. In order to keep costs down, some of the ‘entry’ AV Receivers that do HDMI switching only switch the video of HDMI. It is recommended to check the specifications or with the manufacturer to see which features are supported.


MYTH

I must have all equipment the same HDMI version number in order for everything to work

FACT

HDMI versions are backwards compatible. Instead of version numbers, it is recommended that you look at feature support. If it is not listed in the specifications then it is unlikely to support that feature. This also applies to all 1.3 products. It is possible to have a device that is HDMI 1.3 compliant, but without advanced features such as ‘Deep Color’.


MYTH

Component Video is a better video format than HDMI

FACT

HDMI offers many benefits over Component Video as a video format. Examples such as pixel for pixel mapping are not possible with Component Video, allowing for more detail when available. There is also potential for better contrast and color saturation with the digital bitstream of HDMI. There is also less potential for loss with the digital – analog – digital conversion that is required for Component Video

It is true that individual results do vary, but this is due to the many variables in equipment. Some ‘cheap’ sources, such as a DVD player, may not do a very good job of scaling and processing the HDMI signal. This may result in the Component Video connection looking better, if for instance, the display does better processing in the analogue domain (Component) than the source does in digital (HDMI).

Besides video, there are many other advantages available to the HDMI format such as audio, device control and auto detection of settings.


MYTH

HDMI can not be run over long distances reliably

FACT

Due to the nature of extremely high bandwidth signals carried by HDMI cables there have been some issues, especially early on in carrying 1080p signals further than around 5m / 16′4″. Recent developments in cable stock and termination methods have allowed 1080p to be carried over 15m / 49′ with a passive cable. Developments in active cables, HDMI – CAT6 or optical converters have allowed these same signals to cover distances of over 50m / 164′. All cables should at least support 720p/1080i. Check with the manufacturer for support beyond this.


MYTH

x.v.Color or xvYCC is the same thing as Deep Color

FACT

x.v.Color, also known as xvYCC actually refers to the color space, pushing available colors in the spectrum of light beyond the boundaries set in RGB or YCbCr to include the entire spectrum visible to the human eye. Deep Color allows greater shades or tonal range between colors. In simple terms, an example may be that Deep Color allows many more shades between a light green and a dark green. x.v.Color may allow you to see a bright fluorescent green not previously displayed.


MYTH

All HDMI cables are created equal and can transmit 1080p?

FACT

No. Many HDMITM cables on the market will not reliably transmit 1080p, the best in high definition, even though they may work fine with lower resolutions. This is evidence of a poorly constructed cable and is most noticeable at lengths of 5m / 16′4″ or more. Kordz’ award-winning HDMI cables are guaranteed to transmit 1080p up to 25m / 82′ when used with a compatible source and display device.