Originally Posted by Mr. Mojo
There's still one area I'm not sure about.
Let's say I buy a 1.1 AVR receiver right now (like the Onkyo 674 as I'm only going 5.1 surround).
If two years from now, Blue Rays are down in price, would they be compatible with 1.1 HDMI connections or will they only send the data to the receiver in 1.3 or higher format? I see the point in waiting until the DVD player processes the data instead of the receiver, I just want to make sure that a 1.1 receiver I buy today will be compatible through HDMI with a newer blue ray DVD player.
Thank you in advance for your response.
Part of the V1.3 spec is that it is backwards compatible with the earlier specs. Presumably any future changes to the HDMI specifications would also be designed that way. That means a V1.3 (or higher) source device like a new Blu-Ray player, should work just fine with a V1.1 receiver -- limited of course to just the V1.1 feature set. Theoretically.
Whether the IMPLEMENTATION in any give device follows the spec is another question entirely. For example, HDMI devices are ALSO supposed to be backwards compatible with DVI devices and yet many source device manufacturers are guilty of using an HDMI driver chip with a known flaw that causes clipping of Blacker than Black and Peak White data if the destination device is a DVI device.
It is not yet known how well the bulk of HDMI V1.3 manufacturers will do with designing and testng for backwards compatibility, nor whether the efforts to provide cross manufacturer testing (SimPlay) will adequately test for that. The factor working against backwards compatibility testing is that manufacturers make more money if customers decide they have to upgrade all their stuff to HDMI V1.3 once they buy their first HDMI V1.3 device. The factor working for it is that customers won't buy their first HDMI V1.3 device if they discover it doesn't work with the HDMI V1.1 stuff they already have.
However the odds are reasonably good that this will all work out just fine because of the timing of product releases. That is, HDMI V1.3 devices are going to be launched in a world that is still almost entirely HDMI V1.1 or V1.2. The key circuits implementing HDMI V1.3 will likely be standardized during that period. This was not quite the case in the HDMI vs. DVI situation because at the time HDMI devices first came out DVI devices were still mostly stuck in the computer world (which is why that faulty chip happened). DVI on TVs was originaly intended to connect computers to TVs.
So consider the important HDMI V1.1 features:
1) Supported video resolutions and bandwidth: HDMI V1.3 supports a superset of HDMI V1.1, but the bulk of the market will be in the resolutions supported by HDMI V1.1 so HDMI V1.3 devices will have to work well with those. TVs, even HDMI V1.3 TVs, will likely support only a subset of what HDMI V1.3 can theoretically do, so HDMI source devices will have to work well with destinations that accepted only limited resolutions. An HDMI V1.1 receiver would look just like that to an HDMI V1.3 player.
2) Bitstream audio for legacy formats (i.e., traditional Dolby Digital and DTS): Again this is a core technology, and such a commodity technology that it would be very odd if HDMI V1.3 screwed it up.
3) High bandwidth PCM audio for transmitting decoded versions of new, high def audio formats: If "advanced content" HD-DVD discs, and "player profile 1.1 or higher" Blu-Ray discs become the norm as expected, then HDMI V1.3 devices will need to do this well even when connected to other HDMI V1.3 devices. The fact that new audio format "bitstreams" are also supported in HDMI V1.3 should then lead to no problems.
4) Connection protocols and copy protection: This is where Simplay certification will likely have its biggest impact. What matters here is how seriously the Simplay folks address backwards compatibility testing -- particularly cross-manufacturer backwards compatibility testing. The problem goes in both directions. Newer sources need to know to restrain themselves in the features they use when talking to older destinations. And newer destinations need to present their optional capabilities to older sources in a way that doesn't confuse the older sources. The problem here is that if any older source is found to have difficulty, the first reaction will be to tell the customer he has to buy a new source device rather than "correcting" the HDMI V1.3 destination device to not cause the problem. There are a huge number of badly engineered legacy HDMI devices out there already. Cable TV boxes for example. Some of these probably really should be abandoned. But that shouldn't give V1.3 manufacturers license to abandon ALL older HDMI source devices.
Then you've got the stuff that HDMI V1.3 does which has no match in the HDMI V1.1 world:
A) Auto lip synch: This is an optional feature, so HDMI V1.3 devices have to be prepared for even other HDMI V1.3 devices not doing it. So this should be no problem when connected to HDMI V1.1 devices.
B) Deep Color and xxYCC Color Space: Making connections to V1.1 devices or even V1.3 devices that don't support these should be no problem. Again the V1.3 devices will be launched in a V1.1 world so this will have to work. But what MAY be a problem is if errors creep in as regards data conversion. Will manufacturers (or Simplay) test whether conversion from xxYCC to YCbCr or even to RGB is done correctly across the entire data range and without clipping problems as found in the HDMI to DVI bug (in fact due to faulty YCbCr to RGB conversion) I mentioned above?
So the upshot is that there are lots of ways this COULD get screwed up. Manufacturers of new, cheap, HDMI V1.3 players MIGHT make them in a way where things don't work right with an HDMI V1.1 receiver you could buy today. But the odds are against it because the "standardized" implementations affecting all of the above stated issues will likely end up being developed and cast in stone while "working right with HDMI V1.1" is still a key marketing requirement.