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High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) Tutorial

Will current HD TVs and set-top boxes using DVI-HDTV be compatible with HDMI devices?

Yes. Currently there are TVs with DVI-HDTV inputs available from a variety of manufacturers. Those devices will be compatible with future HDMI-equipped products.

All versions of HDMI are backwards compatible with all of the previous versions of HDMI. Backwards compatible means that the newest version will also work with any previous versions, ensuring that older electronic components will also be able to be connected.

HDMI is the first and the only consumer electronics interface that is supported by the industry, uncompressed, and is all digital, video and audio. By delivering all-digital audio and video that is crystal clear by means of a single cable, HDMI greatly simplifies cabling, and helps give consumers the home theater experience with the highest quality. HDMI provides an interface between a audio/video source, such as a DVD player, set-top box, or A/V receiver, and the audio and/or video monitor, like digital television (DTV), over one single cable.

HDMI Licensing, LLC, is a completely owned subsidiary of Silicon Image, Inc., and they are the agent responsible for licensing all HDMI specifications, providing education to consumers and retailers on the benefits of HDMI technology and specifications, and promoting the HDMI standard. The specification for HDMI was developed by Panasonic, Hitachi, Philips, Silicon Image, Toshiba, Sony, and Thomson as the standard for digital interface for the consumer electronics market. The specification for HDMI combines multi-channel audio and high-definition video, that is not compressed, into one digital interface to provide crystal-clear digital quality over one single cable.

Each version of the HDMI standard has been developed with forward-advancing capabilities in sight and the standards for HDMI are continuously evolving. Each successive version of the HDMI specification has to be backwards compatible with all earlier versions of that specification. This has not always been the case with some of the manufacturers products that were Digital Video Interface (DVI) enabled. HDMI early specifications were based on the specifications for the DVI interface, and HDMI is also compatible with any compliant DVI product that is equipped with High Definition Copy Protocol for content protection by using a simple adapter.

There have been 6 versions of HDMI specifications released to date. The first or original version was called HDMI 1.0 and was released in December of 2002. Version 101 of the HDMI specifications came out in May of 2004. In August of 2005 HDMI 1.2 specifications were publicly released. Four months later, in December of 2005, specification version 1.2a became available. Then in June of 2006, the specifications for version 1.3 were released. And the latest version of HDMI specifications is version 1.3a, which became available on January 8, 2007.

HDMI version 1.0 was the first standard for the technology. This version is now obsolete, and even HDMI Licensing does not recognize this version of HDMI format specifications. Version 1.1 completely replaced version 1.0. Version 1.2 and 1.2a both changed the specifications slightly. These minor changes were mainly concerning the pin alignment and connector and receptacle construction. Version 1.3 was a huge upgrade in the specifications from the format that had existed. Version 1.3a upgrades more specifications for the HDMI format.

Some retailers and manufacturers have expressed some concerns that the consumers may become confused over the version numbering system for HDMI, and make the false assumption that any product listed as carrying the latest numbered version of HDMI interface, for example HDMI version 1.3a, will provide automatically any and all of the features supported in that version of HDMI format specifications. This may not always be true, depending on the other components. To receive all the benefits of the HDMI version specifications, all components must be up to that version of specification. For example, to get all the benefits of version 1.3, all components, which are the source, the cables, and the display, must meet the version 1.3 specifications. If the display is only HDMI 1.2a version enabled, then even if all other components are HDMI version 1.3 enabled, some of the upgraded specifications of HDMI 1.3 will not be available, because the display is only enabled for the 1.2 version, and not the 1.3 version.

Any consumer electronics product on the market that is HDMI enabled, no matter what version the specifications are, will be backwards compatible with any other consumer electronics product that is enabled with an earlier version of the specifications for HDMI.

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