HDMI 2.0 — Do I Need New Cables? The Scoop On HDMI’s New Specs

4XEMHDMI20Hang on, isn’t HDMI just HDMI? Arrrgh, if only it was so easy. The surreptitious governing body known as the HDMI Forum that pulls the strings for HDMI specifications recently announced HDMI Version 2.0. What does that mean for your HDTV, Playstation, Blu-ray box and more? Read on.

Blame It On 4K TV
4KHDTVThose 4K Ultra High Definition TV’s making a splash as the CES 2014 show this month are the catalyst for HDMI 2.0. If you thought Breaking Bad in 1080p resolution was crystal clear, try to imagine Walter White’s maniacal mug in 2160p. You’ll think Heisenberg has finally come for you.

That’s what 4K Ultra HD promises. 4K refers to any display having a horizontal resolution on the order of 4,000 pixels. That’s a pretty dense image and in order to accommodate the higher resolutions of 4K displays, much more bandwidth is needed in the connection to handle all the data screaming through the digital pipe. Cue HDMI 2.0 to the rescue!

Old School HDMI 1.4

4XEMHDMIpipe

Not entirely technically accurate, but you get the idea.

The odd thing is, you don’t need HDMI 2.0 to run a new Ultra HD TV. The previous HDMI version of 1.4 can handle 4K and 2160p signals — 4096 x 2160 pixel resolution at 24 frames per second and 3820 x 2160 at 30fps. But, if you want to bump up the frame rates to 50 or 60 fps, then HDMI 2.0 is going to have to step in and run the show.

Do I Want More Frame Rates?
You may not, but Hollywood does. 24 frames per second is the current movie making standard and our HDTV’s and Blu-ray players can now handle it, bringing cinema quality images into our living rooms. But, the movie biz wants to push frame rates as high as 120fps. The more frames filmed, the more motion data is produced resulting in the human eye seeing a much smoother movement. Peter Jackson’s, The Hobbit, was filmed at 48fps and James Cameron is apparently hatching a plan to film Avatar 2.0 at 60fps.

It’s All About The Bandwidth
Higher frame rates, increased pixel density — it comes down to MORE bandwidth to accommodate it all and satisfy our viewing pleasure. mbIn their infinite wisdom, the HDMI Forum sees the data flood coming and is getting their ships built and launched. With even higher resolution TV’s on the horizon (Sharp and Samsung now offer 8K TVs), a push towards higher frame rates and a growing market for 4K 3D TV’s, it’s clear that the connections need to be ready handle the load. HDMI 2.0 is the answer, ready to deliver up to 18 gigabits per second.

What Else Does HDMI 2.0 Offer?
How about 10 or 12-bit color for even better color reproduction? HDMI 2.0 also supports 32 channels of uncompressed audio and up to 1536kHz audio sample frequency for a fully immersive audio experience. And all that bandwidth space means support for dual HD video streams so you can have two HD images on the same screen at the same time. Big Bang Theory marathon AND NBA 2K14 simultaneously, dude! Don’t laugh. That option is coming and on a few TV’s, it’s already here.

HDMI 2.0 also offers support for the wide angle theatrical 21:9 video aspect ratio and expanded CEC extensions. CEC is the protocol that allows one remote to control multiple devices, even if they’re different brands. HDMI 2.0 brings new standards to CEC that require the inclusion of certain control features. Again, HDMI 2.0 is all about prepping for the future of TV-centric entertainment.

So, New HDMI Cables Or Not?
You might think that in order to send all this extra data, you’re going to need a new, burly, python-sized HDMI cable. 4XEMHDMICableBut the beauty part is—you don’t! HDMI is a hardware change for your TV and devices, but it’s NOT a cable change. 4XEM’s High Speed HDMI cables are HDMI 2.0 ready, capable of carrying the increased bandwidth. Most other suppliers will have the same options.

What About My TV?
4XEMHDMIinIf you have one of the new Ultra HD TV’s, check if it’s already HDMI 2.0 compliant. If it’s not, don’t fret. Many manufacturers are planning to make their sets upgradable to HDMI 2.0 specs with a simple firmware update. Check with your 4K TV maker to see what your options are.

The Takeaway
TV’s are going to get more sophisticated, offering higher resolutions and images so much bigger and clearer, you won’t be able to tell what’s TV and what’s real life. In order to get that digitally quasi-real life experience, it’s going to mean a lot more data and a lot more bandwidth to tame it all. HDMI 2.0 is the answer to keeping it all in check. And you don’t need to do a thing right now. Your existing High Speed HDMI cables are ready to take the load. If you’re buying a new HDTV, check the specs to see if it’s on board with HDMI 2.0. If not, verify it will be upgradeable with a firmware update.

Then sit back, turn on and enjoy the show.

4XEMHDMIFlat4XEM’ selection of High Speed HDMI cables are HDMI 2.0 ready, delivering a superior high definition image and pristine audio. High quality materials and construction ensure a lifetime of dependable performance.

See our full selection here.

 

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About 4XEM

Product manager @4XEM

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