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What is HDMI?


HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It was co-developed by Hitachi, Panasonic Corporation, Royal Philips Electronics, Silicon Image, Sony Corporation, Thomson and Toshiba Corporation.

The advantage of HDMI is the ability to transmit an uncompressed all-digital video and audio signal within a single cable. There are HDMI versions from 1.0 all the way through 1.4.

HDMI has pretty much distanced itself from the competition. DVI, the other all-digital cable, tried to leverage its PC power a few years ago as it moved into the TV world against HDMI. It never caught on because DVI didn’t deliver on the goods - a smaller bandwidth and limited to a video-only signal.

Who Uses HDMI?

HDMI.org says that over 700 companies have adopted the HDMI specification. They estimate that by 2010 over one billion devices will have HDMI installed.

Virtually every television manufacturer produces televisions with multiple HDMI inputs. HDMI is the preferred interface for a Blu-ray disc player as it will be the only way to watch uncompressed 1080p.

Advantages of HDMI

HDMI.org says the advantages of HDMI are quality, ease-of-use, intelligence, and HD content-ready, though I believe that HD content-ready is not necessarily an advantage for the consumer.

HDMI’s good side is that it unlocks the cool stuff associated with digital television, like uncompressed signals, better resolution, crisper images, communicating with other devices, and improved sync between video and audio.

Another advantage is that HDMI is a single audio and video cable so it is easier to connect and creates less cable clutter.

Disadvantages of HDMI

The bad side of HDMI is that it is HD-content ready, which means it supports HDCP - High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection. This is not good for the consumer because the presence of HDCP means that you will not get a signal when trying to watch a HDCP-encrypted program on a non-HDCP television.

An example would be connecting your HDCP-compliant cable box to a non-HDCP HDTV with a HDMI cable. You would either need to buy a new TV or connect the cable box to the TV with a component video cable.

The other thing to consider is that HDMI accessories, like a switcher or A/B switch, are more expensive than non-HDMI counterparts.

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