HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is an all-digital audio/video interface capable of transmitting uncompressed streams. HDMI provides an interface between any compatible digital audio/video source, such as a set-top box, a DVD player, a PC, a video game console, or an AV receiver and a compatible digital audio and/or video monitor, such as a digital television (DTV).
It is still a relatively new interface compared to older analog interface like composite video, S-video and component video. HDMI is still not very well understood by many consumers and there is a great deal of confusion around. So here is a list of FAQ for HDMI.
1. Do I need HDMI?
Well, the answer is a bit more complex than a simple yes or no. So let’s break it down.
2. Do I need HDMI to get picture and sound?
The simple answer is no. Even with the latest high definition digital display and HD video format players like Blu-ray and HD DVD, they all have older video and audio inputs and outputs like component video, TOSLINK and SPDIF digital audio interfaces. So, you do not need HDMI to get a picture and sound.
However, for best quality video and sound, you may want to use the HDMI interface.
3. Do I need HDMI for high definition video or TV?
Again, the simple answer is no. Analog interface like component video is capable of transmitting high resolution video from 720p up to 1080p. So, you don’t need HDMI to enjoy high definition video.
However, some video players restrict video output on component interface to 1080i only and will only allow 1080p output on HDMI. So, if you absolutely must have 1080p instead of 1080i, then you may need HDMI.
4. Do I need HDMI for HD audio format like Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and multichannel LPCM?
In general, if you are using a standalone Blu-ray or HD DVD player, you can enjoy at least one or all of these high resolution audio formats via the player’s multichannel analog output, provided that the players internal decoder can decode some or all of these formats. At the moment, most if not all Blu-ray players cannot decode DTS-HD Master Audio. However, all should be able to decide multichannel LPCM.
If you want to send the digital audio stream to an external AV amp or receiver for decoding, then you will need HDMI. Older digital audio interface like TOSLINK and SPDIF will transmit multichannel LPCM, but will downmix it to 2 channel audio. TOSLINK and SPDIF will not pass Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio streams. To pass these digital audio streams, you will need a player and decoder that supportts HDMI 1.3.
However, for players that can decode Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio internally, they can decode these streams to multichannel LPCM to be transmitted over older versions of HDMI, so you do not really need HDMI 1.3 to enjoy these audio formats.
5. Do I need HDMI for HD DVD or Blu-ray?
The short answer is no, but there are advantages for using HDMI and it all depends on your setup and requirement, read above answers for details.
6. Do I need HDMI 1.3?
I have previously written an article on this topic, You can read it here.
7. Do I need HDMI wih XBox 360?
The Elite version of XBox 360 has an HDMI output. This output supports transmission of both audio and video signals on a single cable. It is useful for decreasing cable clutter.
However, the HDMI output of the Elite does not really provide many advanatges over non-HDMI quipped XBox 360. Xbox 360 supports 1080p output on component and VGA output for games playback and 1080i on component for DVD and HD DVD playback and 1080p output on VGA for DVD and HD DVD.
The HDMI output on Elite cannot pass multichannel LPCM, Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD master Audio. It is is useless for HD audio.