HDMI is short for High Definition Multimedia Interface. An HDMI cable is used to connect different components to a High Definition television or monitor and provides video and audio in a single cable (as opposed to having separate cables for each).
HDMI has had five main versions since being released. HDMI 1.0 was the original release version. HDMI 1.1 integrated support for DVD audio. With HDMI 1.2, there was expanded support for current and future PC's with a HDMI output. HDMI 1.2a brought standardisation and compliance with Consumer Electronic Control. HDMI 1.3 expanded bandwidth, allowing for high data transfer speed. This version also expanded the colour spectrum that the cable can handle, as well as eliminated lip sync issues (previous versions were causing audio to be out of sync with video due to different processing times for audio and video).
HDMI vs. Component
High definition signals can be transferred via HDMI or Component signals. With component cables the video portion is broken into red, green, and blue spectra, which is then used to create a more accurate picture. The audio is separate and can be either analogue or digital. With HDMI, however, the audio and video are combined into a single cable that provides and all digital signal. The audio and video are uncompressed meaning the picture and audio quality are of the best quality to date.
HDMI cables can be used to connect various High-Definition components including DVD players, Blu-ray players, game systems, cable, and PC's. With DVD players, there are currently many DVD players on the market that offer HD up-conversion. This means that the DVD signal is digitally upgraded to HD quality, but it is not true HD resolution. On the other hand, Blu-ray players play movies on discs that have full HD resolution (1080p). In addition to Blu-ray players, next generation systems use HDMI to provide high quality resolution for video and audio. HD Cable and satellite providers also use HDMI connections. Although HD Cable does not broadcast in full 1080p at the time of writing, an HDMI cable can still be used to provide the best picture and audio quality possible. Finally, PCs with HDMI output can connect to HDTV's and Digital Monitors at full HD resolution.
HDMI provides the best quality connection to date as compared to other types of connections. There are no conversions from analogue to digital that take place with HDMI and therefore the signal is all digital and uncompressed. HDMI provides crisp details and eliminates ghosting that can take place with other cables. The cable is also easy to set-up because there is only one wire to plug in, as opposed to up to five different cables with component cables. HDMI allows for future proofing as content providers are moving towards preventing movies from being viewed at HD quality/resolution without a proper cable. HDMI also provides a two-way communication between components that will allow components to automatically choose the best settings for the HDTV or monitor being used.
At the time of this article, HDMI 1.4 is in the process of being released for the public. This will take time to be fully implemented because products need to be created that have the HDMI 1.4 technology. HDMI 1.4 will allow for a data channel to be added into the cable, allowing for fewer wires. Also, there will be increased bandwidth which will accommodate future resolutions that will be higher than 1080p. In addition HDMI 1.4 will allow for 3D movies and gaming, as well as provide smaller connection interfaces for use with portable HD devices.