Practical Technology

for practical people.

HDMI 1.0 vs. HDMI 1.1

A friend was in the market for an HDTV recently and she ran into the perplexing question of: “Which is better HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) 1.0 or HDMI 1.1?”

It’s a good question, people who can talk intelligently about the differences between 1080i (interlaced) and 720p (progressive) can be stumped by this one.

I happen to know the answer to this one because I came to HDTV from an audio-background instead of television. That’s a fancy way of saying I used to sell high-end stereo equipment.

HDMI 1.0 is the interface most of us use for HDTV. Like the name says, its multimedia, it handles both audio and video. HDMI 1.1 can do all that and it can handle DVD-Audio.

DVD-Audio is a DVD-format that’s meant to record higher-end audio. After all you can get more bits on a DVD than you can on a CD.

Specifically, you can put 96,000 samples per second and 24 bits per sample on DVD-Audio. CDs, on the other hand, typically have 44,100 samples per second 16 bits per sample.

Sounds good doesn’t it? Well, actually, it’s very hard to hear the difference. In fact, I, for one can’t hear it at all. And, I should add, I’m one of those people who can hear the difference between digital and analog tube-amplifiers.

I’m far from the only one who can’t tell the difference. It turns out that very few people can tell the difference, so DVD-Audio and HDMI 1.1 both have become something of orphan specifications. For example, if you were to look in Amazon, you’d find that there are only 80 DVD-Audio discs available and that the newest of them were produced in 2002.

So, if you’re in the market for an HDTV one option you don’t need to worry about is which version of HDMI comes with your system. Don’t worry; there are lots of other details to worry over!

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