New Audio Products Repeat 3D Broadcast-Video Formats

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NEW YORK — HDMI 1.4 inputs and outputs appearing in new home audio products are theoretically capable of passing through, or repeating, all of the 3D broadcast formats supported in the HDMI 1.4a specification, although audio suppliers should confirm for themselves, HDMI Licensing president Steve Venuti told TWICE.

Several audio suppliers have confi rmed that new HDMI 1.4-equipped A/V receivers (AVRs), active sound bars and home theater in a box (HTiB) systems unveiled by them so far this year will repeat all of the 3D video formats outlined in the HDMI 1.4a spec. At least one company will offer a firmware upgrade to the HDMI 1.4 inputs and outputs of recently announced AVRs and AVR/speaker packages to add compatibility with all 3D formats. Some suppliers said they’ll even offer firmware upgrades to select current and newly announced 1.3-equipped products to upgrade them to 1.4 or 1.4a.

The recently announced HDMI 1.4a spec added requirements to support 3D broadcast content in the following formats : Side-by-Side Horizontal (1080i at 50 or 59.94/60Hz) and Top-and-Bottom (720p at 50 or 59.94/60Hz as well as 1080p at 23.97/24Hz). They join HDMI 1.4’s requirement to support Blu-ray disc and game content in the frame-packing formats of 1080p a t 23.98/24Hz and 720p at 50 or 59.94/60Hz.

In displays whose inputs are certified as 1.4acompliant , the spec requires the display to decode and display content in all of the 3D formats outlined in the 1.4a standard. On the other hand, sources with HDMI 1.4a outputs need support only one of the 3D formats, and repeater devices such as AVRs must be able to pass through all mandatory formats.

The 1.4 spec, Venuti explained, “sets two mandatory formats — the Blu-ray one and a game content format. TVs would have to support both. [The] 1.4a [spec] adds another two mandatory formats [broadcast formats], and with 1.4a, TVs would have to support all four.” He noted that “many of the TVs that were built with 1.4 have already implemented the two broadcast formats because they saw the market need, even though it was not required by the 1.4 spec.”

In repeater devices such as AVRs, Venuti said, “I do know from our tests that if an A/V receiver can handle the frame-packing formats required in 1.4, they will not have a problem technically handling the 1.4a frame-compatible formats, which are essentially the same video structure of 2D video.” He noted, however, that he was “speaking in a ‘theoretical’ sense” and that individual suppliers would have to determine compatibility for themselves “because there may be some nuances that I am missing.” (See story, this page, for details on audio suppliers’ HDMI 1.4 plans.) The 1.4a broadcast formats, he said, are actually “the easier of the mandatory formats for AVRs to pass through,” but he added, “I don’t think we can say for certain that [1.4- equipped audio products] may not need some firmward upgrade to ensure that they will decode the formats properly based on the spec.”

The HDMI 1.4a spec addresses only the 3D broadcast formats and doesn’t incorporate any other enhancements compared to HDMI 1.4, he added.


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