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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How likely this is to actually happen...

I was reading up on the HDMI standards recently, and apparently, it's supposed to be theoretically possible to upgrade your audio or video equipment's HDMI standard. (from an earlier HDMI standard to a current [or future] HDMI standard)

For example, if the component in question has a current 1.3 HDMI output standard today...you should be able to upgrade that to a 1.4 (or 1.5) HDMI standard with a software & hardware update. (at some point in the future)

The HDMI resource center says it's actually "possible" to do this, but I'm curious to hear from those who know how the HDMI standards are incorporated into modern electronic devices. (like Flat-screen HDTV's and Set-top cable boxes)

Can anyone here offer up some solid technical insight about HDMI, and the likelyhood of such an upgrade in the near future?

Be specific as to why this is or isn't possible in your responses.

I wonder if this potential upgrade could spawn a small "cottage industry" within the consumer electronic market. (for a small number of shops who could upgrade your current devices to the latest HDMI standard for a fee)

That would be similar to a number of small boutique audio shops that modified thousands of Laserdisc players to output a Dolby Digital AC-3 RF (5.1) signal, to drive a Dolby Digital demodulator/decoder inside a receiver or a Home Theater Preamp.

Now for those of you that had this done back in the good ole' days (myself included) ...remember the Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 upgrade was NOT exactly a straightforward or simple plug-and-play upgrade at all. It was complex and expensive. Very few people could do it properly if I remember correctly. It was not a typical DIY (at home) project.

An experienced A/V technician would install a custom manufactured digital audio circuit board (that had to be soldered directly to pins on the motherboard), power for the new board had to be tapped from the main power supply, signal and ground wiring modifications had to be made, and finally...the rear panel had to be physically modified (drilled out) to install a new RCA (AC-3 RF) connector that carried the new audio output signal. (plus shipping to and from the few shops that could perform this mod)

All that time & money was spent in an attempt to bring our Laserdisc players up to "current" digital audio standards at the time. (1995) The home theater audio landscape was changing towards Dolby Digital AC-3, and our Laserdisc players were simply not able to play that new emerging digital audio technology. So instead of ditching our expensive electronic hardware (which was in real danger of becoming obsolete), we found a way to modify them so we could tap into that new audio standard.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know that technology modification was a long time ago (old school A/V references FTW
), but couldn't the same type of modification be possible today in regards to upgrading HDMI standards in some recently purchased HDMI equipped products? (2-3 years old)

The dawn of a new digital audio format in the 1990's, forced us to rethink how we could extend the lifespan of the home theater equipment we already owned. Especially since the rapid advancements in digital audio and video technologies, would routinely surpass the PACE of the hardware manufacturers back then.

I see the same thing happening right now, as HDMI products built just 2-3 years ago are NOT COMPATIBLE with some new HDMI products being released today.

That's a tough pill to swallow, when a closed door consortium decides to tweak some aspect of an existing specification (1.3 to 1.4)...and now your 2-year old, 65" 1080p plasma HDMI HDTV ($$$$) won't work with your new Motorola HDMI HD digital cable box. (produced in the fall of 2010) WTF!

I can understand why so many home theater enthusiasts are up in arms. (and rightfully so)

So my questions to the AVS community are...

Do you think HDMI technology is simply too complex for any individual shop or engineer to hack/modify/upgrade an older version of HDMI...to a newer one? (encryption/decryption)

And if so, why? (be specific)

Is it even possible for a third-party firm to perform this type upgrade in light of DMCA or HDCP?

Neither one of these potential road blocks existed back in the 1990's...

With all the new rules and regulations that have come out in the past ten years or so... I'm not sure where the line is anymore. (that you can or cannot cross)

Thoughts? Opinions? Predictions?

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You do need a unit with an HDMI 1.3 transmitter chip in order to send HDMI 1.4a formatted programs from it, however, the unit must be software or firmware upgadable in order to create the HDMI 1.4 formatted contgent. You do need an HDMI 1.4 receiver chip to properly receive and procedss some of the HDMI 1.4a 3D formats.

All HDMI formats are backwords compatible so any unit with HDMI transmiter or receiver chips can process all HDMI 1.3 content.
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