All swans are white… until Captain Cook’s voyage discovered black swans. This is a clear example of how what we personally experience – or trust what other people say is their experience – limits what we believe to be possible. (My thanks to Nathan for this idea.)

A simple example of my own mind: HDMI can not carry 4K signals (unless it can). In its original specifications, HDMI could not carry that much data. Be careful of which type of HDMI cable you purchase. There five types of HDMI cable: Standard, and with Ethernet, or Automotive; plus High Speed, and with Ethernet.

Standard HDMI cable: 720p (DVD) and 1080i
High Speed HDMI cable: 1080p and beyond

In addition, both types can also carry Ethernet signals. This is “an additional, dedicated data channel, known as HDMI Ethernet Channel, for device networking.” This function is only available if both devices can use the HDMI Ethernet Channel. Look for “HEC” on the cable to make sure it supports Ethernet. And check the specs for the devices.

HEC cable supports Ethernet at 100 Mbps. This allows all your devices which support Ethernet / Internet Protocol (IP address) to connect to the Internet through a single device, such as your TV, rather than each one connecting individually.

I didn’t know this, but there is Standard AUTOMOTIVE HDMI cable. “Since an automotive system may be wired with one or more internal relays that can affect signal strength, the Standard Automotive HDMI Cable needs to send a stronger signal than other cable types, so it is tested to higher performance standards.” It supports 720p and 1080i.

I couldn’t find any definitive information on HDMI version 1.1 and 1.2 but both might have been surpassed before they ever got to market.

HDMI 1.3 increases the bandwidth from 165 MHz to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbps – notice the small “b” in Gbps which means Gigabits per second and not GBps which is Gigabytes per second). It supports up to 48-bit color versus the original specification which was 24-bit. This is the difference between millions of colors and BILLIONS of colors. Considering the human eye can ‘only’ distinguish about 10-million colors, that seems like over-kill to me.

It also supports the mini-HDMI connector, automatic video / audio syncing capability, and new lossless compressed digital audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD.

HDMI 1.4 supports 4K, also known as Ultra-HD. (There is now 1.4a)

A 4K TV can have the same resolution as four 1080p TV’s in the same space. According to “4K is shorthand for 4,000 lines wide by 2,000 lines high, or roughly four times the resolution of a 1080p display. The term actually covers two formats, both supported in the HDMI 1.4 specification.”

3,840 pixels wide by 2,160 pixels high
4,096 pixels wide by 2,160 pixels high

All versions of HDMI support video and audio in the same cable, but only from some other device “down-stream” to the TV. Audio Return Channel (ARC) allows a TV to send a signal “up-stream” to an audio / video receiver or Surround Sound audio controller. This eliminates the need for a separate S/PDIF cable. Look for “ARC” to ensure the device, such as a sound-bar, supports Audio Return Channel. Any version of HDMI cable will support ARC, but both devices attached to the cable must support it.

HDMI 1.4 also supports 3D, and Content Type. This feature “enables a display to auto-select the correct viewing mode to match the content type it is currently receiving from a source device, and to switch modes when a new content source is selected.” So your TV can tell the difference between a signal from a Blu-ray player, an XBox, an external hard-drive, or your phone, or even text displayed by a computer. Again, the cable and both devices must support this function for it to work.

It also supports additional color gamuts or “spaces”. In addition to RGB color and x.v.Color, the HDMI 1.4 standard now offers native support for:
sYCC601 color
Adobe YCC601 color
Adobe RGB color, with additional range of colors for RGB

HDMI 1.4 Micro-connectors can attach to cell-phones and other portable devices. Mini-connectors and micro-connectors are why I alway want to see a photo that shows BOTH ends of the cable when I purchase on-line. Same for Male versus Female connectors. If the photo doesn’t show it, do yourself a favor and call to confirm.

Bottom line, things are going to keep getting better and better; so keep an open mind. Pay more and get the best HDMI cable. Look for HDMI cables (newest version), with HEC if needed, plus ARC devices to get the best out of your equipment. Don’t spend hours messing with things that don’t work together because you bought the cheap stuff. Dynamic AV knows the answers to your questions.