The Whole 3D-TV / HDMI 1.4 Thing

More buzz from the 3D-TV community last Wednesday (Feb. 3), which will ultimately correct the need to thumb between 2D and 3D modes, on 3D-TV displays.

The news came from the keepers of the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), known as HDMI Licensing (

HDMI is part wire, part connector, part protocol. It’s the digital successor to the component and S-video connectors of the analog world, and it’s big partly because it does both audio and video in one package.

Most people first learn about HDMI by way of sticker shock, during a run back to the store to get an HDMI cable to connect, say, the HDTV to the DVD player. (It goes like this: “Seriously? $50 for a cable?”)

The next encounter happens during setup. Surely you’ve (accidentally or not) found your way to this command: “Select HDMI input.”

The protocol part defines how data talks across the pins of the connectors, over the wire, to the other connector.

Up until 3D-TV, the big topic of HDMI conversations was the (often fervent) desire for a wireless version, to hang that dazzler of a display on the wall and connect to set-top or DVD player, without wires.

Last week’s news involves the public availability of the newest version of HDMI, known as 1.4. Boiled way down (understatement), it adds a way for a 3D-TV to identify itself as such, to a set-top or DVD player.

All prior HDMI versions are bi-directional, and most include a mechanism called “CEC,” for “Consumer Electronics Control.” That’s the behind-the-scene way to, say, push one button  — “play” — on the DVD remote, which then powers up the player, switches the display input, and starts the movie.

What’s been missing was a way for the display to say “Hi! I’m a 1080p display. I can do 3D in the following ways.” (It can say it, but, it won’t be heard on the other end. Sort of like when you tell your dog to get off the couch.)

As a result, consumers of early 3D-TVs will likely need to do more thumb-shuffling than they’d probably care to do, selecting between 2D and 3D modes – when changing channels, and when wanting to view text-based information, like the guide.

HDMI 1.4 will correct that, which is good. Because if you’ve ever seen two-dimensional text on a 3D image, you know what they mean about “may cause headaches or nausea.”