For some time, HDMI has been the king of home theater cables in terms of convenience and quality. In one cable, HDMI carries high-definition audio and video as well as ethernet (in the latest version). Now, there are challenges to HDMI’s supremacy: From one side, there’s wireless streaming tehcnologies such as Apple’s AirPlay and Intel’s WiDi. Then there are other high-speed cable solutions such as Thunderbolt and Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL).
However, unlike other audio and video cable standards; HDMI isn’t stagnate, it’s an evolving standard.The HDMI standard is now set by the HDMI Forum, a recently formed group made up of companies in the consumer electronics industry. HDMI is currently at version 1.4 which added features such as support for 4K video resolution, audio-return channel (ARC), 3D and ethernet between devices.
At their CES press conference, the HDMI Forum laid out the future direction for the standard. There will be a new version of the HDMI specification coming out the in second half of this year. However, that means we probably won’t see it in consumer electronics gear till 2013. While the new standard has not been finalized, it will probably offer higher bandwidth and broader video timing support. Other items on the enhancement list include improving HDMI control protocol (CEC). The idea behind CEC is to let one remote control to issue commands to one device and it would in turn, communicate to other devices connected via HDMI (i.e. turning off your TV would also turn off your Blu-ray player and A/V receiver). The group is also looking at ways to provide power to mobile devices connected via HDMI (which MHL was designed to do).