What you should know about the latest HDMI video technologies.

4K HDMI

What you should know about the latest HDMI video technologies.

HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, 4K, UHD, UHD Premium, SUHD, HDR, WCG….OMG!

The amount of acronyms and numbers associated with new tv’s can be overwhelming and quite confusing. Here is a quick and simplified explanation of what it all means.

At the most basic level all of these terms can be broken into three categories. Signal, Resolution, and Color. Hold tight because the acronyms are going to start flying!

Signal

HDMI, or High Definition Multimedia Interface, is the physical path and connection for the audio/video (and sometimes even more) signal to travel through. Until recently we have been at HDMI version 1.4. The upgrade to version 2.0 was needed to support the bandwidth (amount of information that can be transferred) required by the new UHD (ultra high definition) standard. The upgrade to v2.0 means that if your tv is v1.4 it will not support the newest wide color gamut (WCG – many, many colors) and HDR (high dynamic range – difference between bright and dark areas on an image), as it cannot pass the information needed to obtain those specifications. However, v1.4 can do 4K. In fact all of the first and some of the second generation 4K tv’s are HDMI v1.4 as there was no HDMI 2.0 standard at the time of manufacturing. They simply cannot display HDR. It’s also worth noting that these versions speak specifically to the physical connector in the tv or source, not the cables. Any high speed HDMI cable will pass 4K and HDR. There are no HDMI 2.0 cables. Chances are your current cables are sufficient to use with 4K.

HDCP 2.2, or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, is the latest evolution of the digital copy protection designed to create a secure connection between a source and a display. This is so you can’t take the output from a source (a Blu-ray player, say) and plug it into some kind of recorder, to make a copy of the content. DRM, the encryption of the content itself, is a separate issue. HDCP doesn’t care what goes across the cable, as long as that cable is secure.

Resolution

4K and UHD refer to resolutions, or the amount of dots within each frame of an image or video. The term 4K actually comes from the commercial cinema resolution of 4096 x 2160 (horizontal lines of resolution x vertical lines of resolution). This, however is not the consumer standard resolution for 4K. 4K, or UHD uses a resolution of 3840 x 2160. For all intents and purposes, the terms 4K and UHD, or Ultra High Definition are used interchangeably and would only be argued as different by the most tech-savvy of tech heads.

UHD Premium is a certification created by the UHD Alliance (a group formed to attempt to standardize the new formats to better help consumers). The certification is applied to TV’s that meet or exceed certain performance minimums. If you buy a TV with the UHD Premium badge you can be certain your TV is able to fully take advantage of the new advances in 4K content, including high dynamic range (HDR) and wide color gamut (WCG).

4K UHD HDMI4K HDMI

Color

HDR, or high dynamic range is in reference to the tv’s ability to display a much wider range of colors and brightnesses.HDR expands the range of both contrast and color significantly. Bright parts of the image can get much brighter, so the image seems to have more “depth.” Colors get expanded to show more and brighter reds, blues, and greens. The current color standard has the ability to display around 16.7 million colors. With HDR that number goes up to about one billion colors. This results in richer colors with deeper blacks and brighter whites.

WCG, or wide color gamut pertains specifically to the larger, or wider, color standard and the ability of the tv to actually display all or most of the colors in that gamut. Using a wider color gamut means that the tv can get closer to displaying colors as we see them in real life.

Ultra HD HDR 4K HDMI

 

4K by itself isn’t much of an improvement over our current 1080p HD, but when you add HDR and WCG you get a significantly better image and experience. HDR is the newest evolution of TV and its here to stay. The largest improvement to picture quality since going from Standard Definition to High Definition.

 

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