Over the past few years, HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) has become the de facto standard connection for all things high definition, ranging from source devices such as DVD and Blu-ray players/ recorders, video game consoles and set-top boxes to display hardware like HDTV sets. As audio-visual technology advances, the HDMI specifications have been revised and updated over time: those who follow the home theatre scene will have witnessed the version number going from HDMI 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 through HDMI 1.3, 1.3a, 1.3b and 1.3c to the latest HDMI 1.4 and 1.4a. However, these HDMI version numbers may not be around for much longer, because the licensing body responsible for HDMI trademarks and logos has banned the use of such specification or version numbers to market HDMI cables and related products.
HDMI Licensing, LLC is the licensing agent incorporated by the seven HDMI founding companies of Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, Philips, Silicon Image and Technicolor (previously known as Thomson). Last year on the 19th of November, the organisation issued an updated guideline for HDMI trademark and logo usage, mainly stipulating that HDMI version/ specification numbers can longer be used in the packaging, labelling and marketing of HDMI-compliant items.
For HDMI cables, a grace period of one year was given to HDMI cable manufacturers and distributors to remove the offending descriptions, which means that as of 18th of November 2010, any HDMI cables that bear HDMI version numbers will actually infringe the trademark. Non-cable products have until the 1st of January in 2012 to become compliant with the new conditions.
In place of the version numbers, HDMI cables are meant to be described on the packaging and cables themselves in five ways:
- Standard HDMI Cable: Supports up to 720p/1080i. Total bandwidth of 2.25 Gbps;
- Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet: As above, and adds support for Ethernet data up to 100Mbps;
- Standard Automative HDMI Cable: Designed and tested for in-car entertainment system;
- High Speed HDMI Cable: Supports 1080p or higher. Total bandwidth of 10.2 Gbps; and
- High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet: As above, and adds support for Ethernet data up to 100Mbps.
HDMI Licensing’s president Steve Venuti said that the new method of describing HDMI specifications will not only allow manufacturers and resellers to correctly market HDMI products with specific features, but also help consumers choose the right products for their requirements.