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Certification Develops for HDMI-equipped Products

Jan 1, 2007 12:00 PM


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Consumer electronics retailers are pushing the adoption of HDMI certification in the hopes of eliminating customer confusion and incompatibilities that have dogged the interface since its introduction to the market. Addressing reporters at a recent press conference in New York sponsored by HDMI Licensing, Silicon Image, and Dolby Laboratories, Mitsubishi product development director David Naranjo said an announcement is pending from a major retailer requiring all HDMI products sold in its stores to have passed a certification program such as Silicon Image’s Simplay HD.

Silicon Image officials acknowledged to reporters problems in interpretation of earlier versions of HDMI-equipped products. In some cases consumers expecting their HDMI-enabled DVD player to work seamlessly with their HDMI TV, for instance, were frustrated by glitches between HDMI-compatible products trying to work through the copy protection handshake. Problems with cable box compatibility have been documented as well. The Simplay HD Compatibility Test Specification (CTS) ensures that products meet specs, and only those products that have passed certification are licensed to carry the Simplay HD logo.

HDMI Licensing, which is responsible for licensing the HDMI specification and promoting the standard, has challenges ahead. The concept of a single cable replacing as many as six audio cables and three video cables is easy to grasp, but the additional capabilities offered by the various iterations of HDMI has been confusing.

The latest version of HDMI, version 1.3, debuted in second half 2006 and was announced first in Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles, Toshiba’s second-gen HD-XA2 HD DVD player, and Epson’s EMP-TW1000 1080p LCD projector (Sony’s first standalone Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-S1, does not support HDMI 1.3).

According to HDMI Licensing, version 1.3 adds six benefits to the previous version including higher speed, Deep Color, a broader color space, new mini connector, automatic AV synching capability, and multi-channel HD lossless audio support. On the speed front, the latest standard boosts single-link bandwidth to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbps), which will support demands of future HD display devices incorporating higher resolutions, Deep Color and high frame rates. HDMI 1.3 supports Deep Color in the form of 10-bit, 12-bit, and 16-bit color depths via either RGB or YCbCr. That compares with 8-bit color depths of previous HDMI specs. Deep Color expands the number of colors viewable on an HDTV from millions to billions, while eliminating color banding and subtle gradations between colors.

A number of HDTVs capable of Deep Color rendition are expected to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show running January 8-11. On the source side, PlayStation 3 was the first product to support Deep Color. Next-gen DVD players are likely next, although supporting content will be lacking. According to HDMI Licensing, movie studios do not distribute content in 10-bit color depth. Although motion picture content is inherently greater than 8-bit, it has been reduced to 8-bit color depth for playback on traditional CE devices. It remains to be seen whether movie studios will master 10-bit content as more Deep Color-capable players become more prevalent in the market.

HDMI version 1.3 supports the xvYCC color standard, which is said to remove current color space limitations and enable display of any color viewable by the human eye. A new mini Type C HDMI cable provides HDTV connectivity for small portable devices including camcorders and digital still cameras. Automatic AV synching eliminates the need for complex user adjustments to compensate for differences in audio and video processing speeds. In addition to support for existing multi-channel formats, HDMI 1.3 adds support for new lossless compressed digital formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio that are used in HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc players.



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