Along with the new standards for 3D home theater components, there is a new cabling interface standard called HDMI 1.4. Here is what you need to know about it.
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It is the most current cabling standard for HDTVs and home theater components. Although you do not necessarily need to use HDMI cables to connect components, such as Blu-ray players, HDTVs and amplifiers, it does greatly simplify the cabling. It is also required in order to take advantage of some of the advanced connectivity features of the newest generation of components.
The current standard for wiring the newest 3D-ready components is HDMI 1.4. The newest standard added some important features to 3D-ready components. The new standard also specifies four distinct cable types and requires manufacturers to label the cable type. It will be interesting to see if cable manufacturers follow this directive, because most never did in the past. With the old specifications, there were only two cable types: standard HDMI and high-speed HDMI. The new standard calls for five types: standard HDMI, standard HDMI with Ethernet, standard automotive, high-speed HDMI and high-speed HDMI with Ethernet.
Do I need to Replace All of My Cables When I Upgrade My Components?
Probably not. Keep in mind that HDMI specifications are intended to create a standard cabling interface for home theater component manufacturers. The cabling merely needs to accommodate the new features. Most good quality HDMI 1.0 through 1.3 cables will still work with the new components with one exception: Ethernet connectivity.
Several new component features have been added to the HDMI 1.4 spec. Not all newer components have these features built-in because each is optional. One new feature that has been added is Ethernet connectivity, which means that if one or more of the new components in a system that use HDMI 1.4 connections also have Internet access capabilities, only one component needs to be connected to the Internet. The others will share the same connection. The addition of an Ethernet channel appears to be the only wiring change in two of the four types of cables. The connectors are still the same. If you have new 3D-ready home theater components and you wish to hook your home theater up to the Internet and new components do utilize the HDMI 1.4 standard and the components have the new Ethernet Channel feature, then you will need to purchase a cable designated as High-Speed with Ethernet.
So What Type of HDMI Cable Do I Need for My 3D Home Theater?
If you originally purchased good quality HDMI cables, they should work as long as they are high-speed cables. The problem is that most older cables are not marked as high speed or standard speed as the HDMI standards organization required. Fortunately, almost all 1.1 through 1.3 cables are high-speed. As a general rule, if you paid more than $20 for a two meter or shorter cable, that has gold plated pins, sturdy connectors, and shielded cabling, it should work fine. If you are upgrading your home theater system with new 3D-ready components and have an installation that requires longer cables, or if you originally purchased some of the ultra cheap Chinese-made cables, or if you with to take advantage of the Ethernet Channel feature, then you probably want to upgrade your cabling.
Here is the definitive statement from the HDMI.org web site. “All High Speed HDMI cables will support 3D when connected to 3D devices. You can use your existing High Speed HDMI cables or choose a different cable type.” That means that when a sales rep tells you that you must upgrade all of your cables for 3D and that you need to purchase $100+ Monster HDMI 1.4 cables, he is probably misinformed.
What is the New Standard Automotive Cable?
This is a special cable for wiring a new generation of automotive audio visual components. This is the only cable type that uses a latching connector to assure that it will not come loose in automotive applications.