Tag: hdmi

HDMI 2.0 is official with 4K support, insane audio

The HDMI 2.0 spec has been in the works for years but as of today it is finally official and very impressive to say the least. 

Just a few years ago the HDMI 2.0 feature list would have looked like science fiction. The bandwidth capacity is a massive 18Gbps, hence it can cope with 3840×2160 video at up to 60fps, handling eight times as much data as 1080p at 30fps. 

But it’s not all about pixels, either. HDMI 2.0 also supports 32 audio channels. It also features dynamic auto lip-sync and extensions to CEC. 

The new spec does not define any new cables or connectors, which means it will be backwards compatible with existing HDMI gear. 

The downside? Well, 4K displays still cost a fortune and they won’t replace 1080p monitors or tellies anytime soon.

However, people are being spoiled by ultra-sharp tablet screens, so we wouldn’t be surprised if we see faster development on this front over the next couple of years.

Best Buy and its customers have an HDMI laugh

No one can say that Best Buy has not got a sense of humour. In the run up to Christmas it posted an advert for a $1,095.99 HDMI cable.

Consumer watchdogs have rounded on outfits for making HDMI cables at ridiculous prices backed by marketing which claims that they are really vital for HD tellies.

Best Buy posted it its advert on its website and claimed that it had been “sold out” just in case anyone really was dumb enough to buy it.

The specification says that the HDMI cable features a Dielectric-Bias System that reduces distortion and 100 per cent Perfect-Surface Silver conductors for improved signal clarity. The Direct-Silver-plated HDMI connectors provide a simple connection and durability. The HD polyethylene composition is optimised to ensure critical signal-pair geometry. After all if you going to want your signal-paired you want to make sure it is geometric. The perfect-surface Silver conductors are supposed to provide improved signal clarity and means that all signal conductors controlled for digital-audio direction. The last thing you want is for your digital-audio to go in a different direction. The Dielectric-Bias System reduces distortion, apparently.

Best Buy customers were in on the act giving the cable nearly all the stars possible in a review.

“I tried to think up how many applications this cable could truly have when it hit me! I bet I could transfer my brain into the TV and become one with the internet! I mean, it wasn’t too far of a stretch, my TV did come with Wifi support and I pay a lot for internet anyway,” one said.

“This is the best cable ever! I was so impressed by the 2160p picture and 3D sound I sold a kidney to buy a second one!” said another.

Another complained that when he saw war movies where “the Germans looked too real”. Well you get that with the high quality gear. 

LG rushes to become early WiDi adopter

LG and Intel have inked a deal to use Chipzilla’s WiDi technology in LG’s top of the range tellies, but it could struggle to see widespread adoption despite the benefits for ultrabooks.

The pair recently announced a “strategic alliance” to promote the use of Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, which provides wireless connectivity for HD content stored in notebooks and other devices.  A recent statement announced that LG’s Cinema 3D Smart TVs would be the first to feature Intel’s wireless, clutter-reducing gear.

The internal WiDi system will mean content can be streamed directly to a TV set, or potentially to a projector or monitor, without needing miles of HDMI or VGA cables. WiDi doesn’t require any internet connection, just a WiDi enabled laptop and screen to stream content.  

On the face of it the system certainly sounds useful, with consumers increasingly accessing content on the big screen from a laptop. Despite Intel and LG’s gusto, there is not quite as much enthusiasm from other corners.

Paul Gray at DisplaySearch believes that despite the joint venture showing “some possibilities” but there are many problems in widespread adoption.  This is at least partly due to LG’s history of quickly picking and dropping projects.

“With other manufacturers you might take it more seriously,” he told TechEye, “but if you look at LG it often jumps on new technology like this, and just because they have made an announcement doesn’t mean that they will push it.”

Gray believes that there are many problems with LG and Intel’s WiDi, which has been attempted in various guises by other firms, too: “I have had reports of terrible latency problems, with a video delay of a couple of seconds, which means that it would be pretty bad for gaming,” Gray said.

Sony has also attempted similar techonology, and as Sony tend to do, it was very well developed.  However it also cost a lot and the public is not interested in spending so much money on getting rid of some wires. Basically it is incredibly expensive to do it properly.

“In this sense WiDi is not a game changer, though it will be interesting to see who manages to lead on the technology in future.  At the moment thought it has limited applications other than in business use.”

One area which Gray flags as useful is doing away with bulky and expensive socket components in laptops.

This fits in line with Intel’s Great Light Hope: the Ultrabook. Intel has already been decking out its Ultrabooks with WiDi, and it certainly makes sense with the two features that Intel is so desperate to reduce: size and, more importantly, cost.

“Intel can get rid of the outputs on its devices, and that means not having to put in expensive socket components that take up a lot of space,” Gray says.  “This could be very good for Intel.”

Dropping unneccessary baggage makes sense as Intel is betting the farm on affordable Ultrabooks. Whether LG is the right partner to bring WiDi into living rooms across the world is another question.

The WiDi-enabled LG set will be on view at CES in Lost Wages next month. 

Some Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adaptors found illegal

The licencing company which looks after the HDMI specification has confirmed that some Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adaptors are illegal, and is likely to demand that they are recalled.

According to Charlene Wan, director of marketing for HDMI LLC, any cable that does not include HDMI connectors on both ends violates the specification and that includes the popular plug that Apple uses.

Apple appears to be an enthusiastic supporter of the dodgy plugs. Mini-DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapters are also sold by Belkin on Apple’s website. There are shedloads of Apple products that use mini-DisplayPort connections, including the MacBook, MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro.

But if Wan is right, then they are outside the spec, as are Dell and other PC OEMs who also use mini plugs.

Companies that make and sell cables that have a DisplayPort male connector on one end and an HDMI male connector on the other end “have been told that this product is unlicensed and cannot be sold,” Wan told PC Mag.

Cables without an HDMI connector on each end are not defined by the specification, and can’t be tested. That makes them illegal.

So far the standards body has not insisted on a recall. Wan said it’s up to the adopters for what they need to do. On one hand it is illegal to make and sell non compliant products and the HDMI LLC has the right to demand all retailers and channels to remove any and all non complaint products from the shelves.

Adopters who do not do what they are told can lose their rights to make/sell HDMI products.

Belkin has denied that the cable it sold on Apple’s Web site is illegal. It said that it was just an adaptor and not a cable. A spokesman said that it did not sell a cable with a male Mini-DP and male HDMI port, which is what falls out of compliance.

Wan admitted that the specification “contemplates” a DisplayPort-to-HDMI product which might make legal sabre rattling a bit difficult. 

Tablets, tablets and more tablets at CeBIT 2011

Cebit, much like every other event this year is all about tablets.

Okay, it is also about the cloud and IT for big companies and so on, but that isn’t anything consumers enjoy laying their hands on. ERP software is for the office, tablets are for having fun. And work, it could be argued.

Asus showed off a slew of tablets which will be shipped later this year in the UK. The Eee Slate EP121 is designed to serve the high-end segment, costing around £1000. It features an Intel i5 dual core CPU, Windows Home Premium 7, a 12.1″ LED backlit display and packs either a 32 or 64GB SSD alongside 4GB DDR3 RAM.

Nividia’s Tegra 2 will be powering the Asus Transformer tablet running on Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

It supports Adobe Flash, a 10.1″ capacitive screen and can be connected to a telly per mini-HDMI, just like its bigger relative of the Slate EP121.

A docking station housing a keyboard and a second battery can be bought for an extra £100. Battery life is claimed to be eight hours or, when docked, sixteen hours.

The 10.1″ Eee Pad Slider tablet houses a keyboard in its nether regions, making it a more useful device to type emails and actually work with than just play around with apps and watch Youtube while fondling the touchscreen. The Tegra 2 was the system of choice for this one. A pre-production model was still on display featuring a make-shift hinge.

Asus Slider

Asus’ Eee Pad Memo, based around a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon, is just 7″ large and comes with a stylus pen for jotting down notes. Certainly good for making shopping lists. It can also cope with 1080p video and has a micro-HDMI port.

Chinese ODM Yifang Digital had a bunch of tablets on display, of which the M707 Handwriting Android Tablet was the most interesting. It combines a 7″ Android tablet in a leather case next to an A5 paper notepad and a smart pen, allowing users to write, draw, sketch, diddle and digitise directly into the tablet. It runs videos up to 720p and partners can ask nicely to include 3G along with the standard wifi.

Yifang Combo Tablet

It may be hitting Aldi and Lidl this year, as the lady demonstrating the tablet said Medion is a partner. If Medion opts to bring it out, the Android 2.1 tablet will be branded either as a Medion or Tevion product.

2OpTop Co. from Taiwan also showed tablets which uncannily looked like iPads using VIA, Samsung, Telechip and Freescale CPUs. Android 1.6 through 2.2 was the OS of choice for these zomblets, just like all the other makers.

Two things are certain – there’s a huge market for tablets and both ARM CPUs and Android are the fellows of choice ready to mug Apple and its iPads.  

Intel just woke up to the tablet and smartphone market, AMD will need until next year to scale down to smaller processes before being able to stuff Llano and following generations into flat tablets sans ventilation.

Texas Instruments shows off OMAP 5 for 3D

US chip outfit Texas Instruments (TI) has announced its OMAP 5 SoC (system on a chip) for use in smartphones, tablets and whatever mobile devices humanity may devise.

Texas Instruments went a bit over the top praising the latest OMAP generation, saying it “creates disruptive mobile experiences akin to Henry Ford’s transformative automobile advancements.” Despite all the hot air, it does look very promising.

The OMAP 5 platform features two ARM Cortex-A15 cores at speeds of up to 2GHz in combination with two Cortex-M4 cores, making it a dual dual-core. It also sports a PowerVR SGX544-MPx for 3D graphics, alongside a dedicated TI 2D graphics core, an IVA-HD video accelerator for 1080p HD video and other niceties, such as an audio processor, a C64x DSP and M-Shield system security offering various cryptography functions.

It offers support for up to four displays, or three high-resolution LCD displays and a HDMI 1.4a 3D display. Yes, 3D is hitting the mobile market, Nvidia isn’t the only company making the wares.

TI says the 28nm processors offer three times as much processing bang than its ancestor, while 3D graphics have improved five-fold. At the same time, TI boasts power consumption has been reduced by 60 percent “compared to a sample user experience on the OMAP 4 platform”. It can be presumed watching 1080p videos will nonetheless drain the battery.

Two OMAP 5 SoCs will be shipping soon, the OMAP 5430 is designed for the higher-end smartphone and tablet market, whereas the OMAP 5432 is intended for more “cost-sensitive” products which can be a tad larger.

It’s all part of a conspiracy to reduce the global population. Sometime next year, hospitals will be full of people hit by cars and bikes while walking across the street, staring at their 3D mobile gizmos, unaware of the world around them.

Windows 7 tablet out soon

PC maker In Media has opened the kimono on a new Windows 7 tablet which will be hitting the shops early next year.

While all the hype about tablets has focused on keyboardless netbooks running cut down phone software, it seems that the In Media machine will be a full Windows 7 machine.

The product is powered by the 1.66GHZ Intel Atom processor and unlike most tablets comes with a comparitively large 160 GB hard drive of storage.

It will have an HDMI interface for viewing high definition content on the tablet or via the tablet to a large screen HD TV/ There is only one forward facing camera and an 11 1⁄4 by 6 inch LCD screen.

Obviously it comes with built in eReader functionality and Flash.

In Media C.E.O. Nick Karnik said that he wanted to launch a tablet that did everything and was not just a media player or eReader or net book.  It is strange that he choice Windows 7 to do it.

“The touch screen the Windows 7 Tablet PC had all the full functionality of a PC in an elegant and efficient tablet format and because of the operating system users are not limited to what type of video formats they can view as all are supported including the most popular, Flash,” he said.

The product is scheduled for shipment in Q1m 2011 and will roll out in Asia and the U.S. with at a suggested retail price of $399.  This price tag is compariable with many of the Android machines out there, which given what the beast can do, is a damn fine price.

There is a demo  video of the tablet below.

Nvidia launches Quadro NVS 300 business GPU

Nvidia has announced the launch of its “Quadro NVS 300 Business Graphics Solution”, a power-efficient graphics processor designed to power up to eight displays simultaneously.

The enterprise card with the terrible name supports VGA, DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI and allows resolutions as high as 2560×1600. It works with LCD, DLP, or plasma displays, allowing multiple displays to run off a single card.

To facilitate the multi-monitor support, the NVS 300 is based on Nvidia’s Mosaic technology and utilises the company’s nView Desktop Management Software.

Power consumption is a big factor for running multiple displays, so Nvidia was keen to cut down on power usage by making the NVS 300 more efficient with power utilisation. It is also EnergyStar compliant.

Nvidia claims the GPU is perfect for command and control centres, for the display-heavy trading floors, or for digital signage installations.

The NVS 300 is available now from Nvidia, its global partners, and major vendors. It carries a price tag of $149.

Intel's Light Peak is not the only connection answer

Sometimes less choice is better. Throughout the history of computing, there have been almost as many hardware interfaces as there have been manufacturers. A socket and plug for each different type of interface. And it’s time for this to end. It’s time for an interface that, for better or worse, can do everything.

At the time of writing, the standard interfaces include, USB, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, Display Port, DVI, HDMI, RJ45 Ethernet, SATA and eSATA. Those are just the common ones. Now Intel is getting ready to deliver Light Peak so there’s going to be yet another hardware interface. Another different set of leads and plugs.

From a consumer perspective, the spaghetti just gets worse. The chances of having the right lead for a particular job is dismal. USB made some good headway but it’s just not flexible enough to do everything. USB 3 is, in theory, just about fast enough to deliver a 1080P60 signal to a monitor. However, it has awful cable length limits.

FireWire beats USB in almost every respect. Except that it’s as good as dead. SATA is too flimsy and eSATA far too narrow a specification. DVI has too many pins. Display Port and HDMI are where it starts to get interesting.

You can send an Ethernet signal over the latest HMDI 1.4 connections. An HDMI lead can be extended with a standard bit of CAT5e or CAT6 network cable and an appropriate adaptor. This seems to have gotten some people interested enough to the point where there’s a new proposal that mixes the best of RJ45 Ethernet and HDMI called HDBaseT.

In some ways it might seem like the perfect answer. Make everything HDBaseT and it could all talk together. Everything would have high bandwidth if it needed it. Everything would have networking. Surely this is the best possible answer? Replace all of those old ports with HDBaseT.

Except that there’s one big problem: HDBaseT is rooted in the past. While you can send 10Gbps down it, that’s limited to the video signal. Networking on it only does 100Mbps. The fact that there’s no need to send anything except a 10Gbps network signal doesn’t seem to have occurred to them. With a little tweak, the chips that are capable of decoding an HDCP signal could easily decode packets of TCP/IP over Ethernet to get that signal.

HDBaseT is also rooted in the past through its choice of connector. The RJ45 has certainly stood the test of time but it has also been surpassed in almost every way. Plugs that lock in place may be great in a patch panel but they’re not designed to be plugged and unplugged regularly.

That leaves a simple and obvious conclusion. If you want to replace every lead out there, the answer is to give Ethernet a new connector. It solves almost every cable problem. It also gives a whole new list of possibilities.

Going back to the earlier list of standard connectors, 10GBaseT Ethernet with PoE is capable of replacing every single one of them. USB and FireWire don’t have the power carrying capabilities or cable length. Display Port, DVI and HDMI can’t do networking anything like as well. SATA and eSATA have less bandwidth and can’t carry power.

There are the obvious arguments against. Ethernet switches are more expensive than USB hubs. Chips capable of 10GBaseT have high clock speeds and are also expensive. But economies of scale would drive the prices down hard and fast.

The only thing that comes close is Light Peak. That’s capable of 10Gbps and is meant to do exactly what’s described here. It’s meant to replace every lead. It’s also meant to scale to 100Gbps eventually. But it probably can’t carry power in the same way. And all of the arguments that go against using Ethernet everywhere also go against Light Peak. A chip that costs a lot to send a 10Gbps signal down optical fibre is going to be just as expensive as one that sends a 10Gbps signal down copper wires. Except that Light Peak isn’t a standard yet so it’ll probably be more expensive initially.

And there is where 10GBaseT wins. Ethernet switches are capable of handling different speeds going into them so you could put a slower 1GBaseT chip in a device that needs to be cheap. Or even a 100BaseT chip for very, very cheap. You’d probably have to plug your monitor directly into a machine if you didn’t want to hose your network but you could have the option to plug it in somewhere else.

Imagine the effect on the average consumer of being able to plug in any peripheral into any port because all of those ports are the same. Even inside the machine. Ethernet has been with us for years so maybe the technology to do it has been with us for all of that time. Maybe it’s just had the wrong plug on it. Or maybe Light Peak will be what kills copper wires.

Nvidia launches GT 430 for $80

Nvidia is to launch its latest graphics card, the GeForce GT 430, today, with 21 partners and an estimated price of $79 making it one of the cheapest DirectX11 cards available on the market.

Nvidia claims the GT 430 will have a performance increase of 1.5 times the GT 220 and will have twice the geometry and shader power. It will also features between 27 percent and 50 percent faster gameplay on the latest games, with framerates ranging from 30 to 60 fps.

It has a length of 5.7 inches and will come with 96 CUDA cores, a graphics clock of 700MHz, a memory clock of 900MHz, and a processor clock of 1,400MHz.

It comes with 1GB of 128-bit DDR3 memory, with no plans for other models with less memory. Nvidia revealed it would be focusing on the 1GB or higher memory market for its upcoming cards.

It will have a thermal design power of 49W and will have a single or dual-slot fansink to keep things cool. Nvidia was asked why the card features fans if passive cooling could do the job and it said that this was a decision made by Nvidia’s partners.

The GT 430 will not support SLI, so for anyone considering buying two or three of these for a cheap SLI alternative to one of the higher-end cards, that won’t be an option.

It will also support two monitors, a standard for Nvidia’s recently released cards. It will support outputs in DL-DVI, HDMI, and VGA. It will also support full 3D and DX11.

Nvidia was reluctant to comment on price, but finally buckled and revealed that the reference card will be in the $79 range, but Nvidia’s partners may make it slightly lower or higher than that, depending on additional features.