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What do I need to know about different versions of the HDMI standard?

HDMI is a modern digital audio/video standard used on many computers and television displays. HDMI replaces analog consumer video standards, such as composite, S-Video, and component, as the first digital consumer video standard. For computers, it can replace VGA and the video from HDMI works with DVI.

HDMI connector types include the following:

HDMI can be passively adapted to DVI and DVI can be passively adapted to HDMI, but there is no official support for audio in the DVI standard.

HDMI versions

Numerous revisions have been made to the HDMI standard, which have increased the capabilities while maintaining the same connectivity. HDMI has been designed to be fully backward compatible with older standards. The performance of the system is defined by the earliest version of HDMI used in the setup. For example, if you have a 1.2 source and a 1.1 display, the 1.1 capabilities will be used.

Using cabling that is certified with a specific version number becomes more important when you use the latest standards in your setup, due to increased bandwidth requirements. Cables that are certified for version 1.4 and later can contain Ethernet and will usually state "with Ethernet" in the description. Cables with Ethernet can still be used with any earlier versions of HDMI.

The following table gives a brief overview of the progression of HDMI.

Version Date Bandwidth Max. resolution Features
1.0 December 2002 4.95 Gb/s 1080p60
  • 8 channel LPCM/192 kHz/24-bit audio
  • DVD audio added
  • Greater support for PC sources, One Bit Audio
1.1 May 2004 4.95 Gb/s 1080p60
  • 8 channel LPCM/192 kHz/24-bit audio
  • DVD audio added
  • Greater support for PC sources, One Bit Audio
1.2 August 2005

4.95 Gb/s
 

1080p60
  • 8 channel LPCM/192 kHz/24-bit audio
  • DVD audio added
  • Greater support for PC sources, One Bit Audio
1.3 June 2006 10.2 Gb/s 2560x1600p60
  • 48-bit colour
  • Dolby TrueHD
  • DTS-HD
1.4 May 2009 10.2 Gb/s 4096x2160p24
3D: 1920x1080p24
  • 3D 
  • Ethernet
  • 4K@24Hz
2.0 September 2013 18 Gb/s 4096x2160p60
3D: 1920x1080p60
  • 4K@60Hz

HDMI cables

HDMI cable types can be separated into two different categories: active and passive.

An active cable is designed to exceed the maximum length of a standard passive cable. Active cables require power from either the HDMI port or an external power source. The cable converts the signal at the source to one that is better suited for the longer distance, and then converts the signal back to standard HDMI on the display end of the cable. StarTech.com carries active cables up to 100 feet (30 meters).

HDMI extenders also perform an active conversion to standard category cable (for example, CAT5, CAT6) or to wireless.

A passive cable does not convert any signals and is limited to a maximum length of 50 feet (15.2 meters). Cables that are not certified for resolutions higher than 1080p may experience problems when the cable is longer than 25 feet, resulting in errors in the video and audio. If you use passive cables, you should use the shortest length possible.