High definition gets serious with HDMI 1.3

HDMI cables like the IXOS XHT458 deliver a totally digital connection between your TV and other HD devices

The High Definition Multimedia Interface ( HDMI ) licensing body today showed off the advantages of HDMI 1.3 - the new interface standard for high-definition products announced in June this year.

Improved sound, a vastly superior colour depth, sharper images and smoother motion are all achieved by HDMI 1.3's greater bandwidth. This allows far more information to be passed through the connection, thus improving the viewing experience. The changes, in full, are:

  • Higher Resolution - HDMI 1.3 supports 120Hz refresh rates, for smooth motion on-screen, introduced to help eliminate motion blur inherent to LCD TV. Ideal for gaming and fast-paced action movies.
  • Colour Depth - compatible with 16-bit colour palettes, HDMI 1.3 will be capable of supporting 280 trillion colours. This will improve colour depth, give greater contrast ratios, and allow for better shadows, blacks and greyscale. HDMI 1.3 will also support xvYCC (shorthand for Extended YCC Colorimetry for Video Applications) - a new colour space replacing RGB, being utilised in new high-bit image processing goods (TVs, cameras, Blu-ray and HD DVD players). It vastly increases the number of colours available for use - 1.8 times as many. The HDMI licensing body believes the standard will soon become very popular, resulting in compatible products capable of brilliant colours.
  • Lossless Audio - for high-definition content, Dolby True HD was developed to allow greater quality sound. Blu-ray, HD DVD and other high-definition sources offer greater space to store sound. Dolby has used higher bit-rates in its encoding to allow for clearer, crisper sound. The HDMI 1.3 standard supports Dolby Tue HD, and all forms of Dolby sound below that. This hopefully means HDMI 1.3 will give you the best possible sound on most high-definition setups.
  • Lip Sync Compensation - video processing can sometimes cause lag in the video output, knocking it out of synchronisation with the sound. HDMI 1.3 can compensate for this.
  • Deep Colour - Deep Colour increases the number of bits per pixel, resulting in deeper, more natural colours. When used with xvYCC, the HDMI licensing body insists it will result in "more accurate reproduction of on-screen images in true-life colours." Deep colour will also eliminate banding - an unwanted effect that makes natural colour gradients look unnatural and chunky.

The first product to make use of HDMI 1.3 will be Sony's PlayStation 3 games console. However, to make the most of it and HDMI, you will need to buy a TV with 10-bit, 12-bit or 16-bit colour depth. And there aren't many of those around. Yet.