HDMI cable talk

So your AV rack is really sorted now the HD war has been won, right? You’ve got a Blu-ray player with all the necessary future-proofing, you’ve got a true HD display with a proper 16-bit-capable panel, you’ve got a high-end AV receiver that can handle Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. And of course everything is connected via HDMI.

That’s it. The job is done. Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the crisp resolution, the vibrant colour, the astonishing audio, right?

Sadly, not. As Sarah Michelle Gellar’s baffling character in the likewise-baffling new film Southland Tales tell us: “Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted.”

Few can be surprised to learn that R&D departments of all the major CE manufacturers are hardly going to sit on their laurels now HD is finally getting some penetration. People old enough to remember their first tiny black-and-white TV might think a resolution of 1920 x 1080 is pretty high, but 1080p is but one step on the road to ultimate fidelity.

Computer users rich enough to afford 30 inch PC monitors can enjoy a native resolution of 2560 x 1600, and there’s no reason to think TVs won’t hit comparable detail levels – and sooner rather than later.

Your rack might kick some serious high fidelity bottom, but there’s still plenty it doesn’t do. And there’s plenty the R&D departments want it to do.

Basically, in the near future, enthusiast-level content is going to offer higher resolutions, deeper colour, and higher frame rates, while audio is going to be sampled at increasing frequency.

Thanks to computers, the technology to run all this higher-than-HD content is already here. But the problem is there will be so much data being shunted around your system, the very wires that connect your BD player to your AV receiver won’t be able to handle it.

HDMI is, in many ways, the greatest invention since the marketing concept of ‘Hi-Fi’ itself. All your audio and vision through a single cable. What could be better?

Well, it turns out HDMI itself could be better, and it needs to be. If your kit is very new, or of very high quality, it might already support the latest iteration of this handy format: HDMI 1.3a. If not, read on.

While all versions of HDMI can handle a 1080p signal and lossless audio (depending on your receiver or playback device), only 1.3 has what it takes to be ready for the next generation of content.