You knew at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that 3D was going to be the next big thing in home theater. The AV industry, as a whole, has been living off of "the next big thing" since the VHS - BETA format war with Dolby Pro Logic, Laserdisc, DVD, DTS, satellite television, satellite radio, DVD-Audio / SACD, flat HDTVs, HD DVD and Blu-ray as a procession of proof. The problem is consumers are getting a little tired of keeping up with the Jones' when it comes to consumer electronics.
HDMI offered itself as the one-cable solution that could do it all including pass HD video signal along with high resolution 7.1 audio in ways that DVD-Audio and SACD couldn't dream of. But that dream has quickly become a nightmare with HDMI handshake issues so severe that consumers can't make players talk with receivers and or receivers talk with monitors. It's a total mess. And to make things worse, the morons behind HDMI think that it's somehow OK to make new HDMI versions that aren't backwards compatible with new formats.
Enter HDMI 1.4.
Why do you need HDMI 1.4" Well, do you want 3D on your cutting edge HDTV? If so - you need HDMI 1.4. Do any cable manufacturers have HDMI 1.4 products on the street today? Nope. Are there HDMI 1.4 Blu-ray players out there? Yes, from the likes of Sony and Samsung - but they need massive firmware updates to display 3D if you have plans on that. HDMI 1.4 receivers just hit store shelves in the last few weeks but if you use an AV preamp - FORGET about HDMI 1.4. It's just not out yet and for what - so you can get 3D material? What disc might you be playing back today in 3D from Blu-ray? Oh, wait - there is no software out there either.
The mainstream consumer electronics industry needs to deal with their HDMI issues before they can earn the right to keep selling vapor- and futureware to consumers. HDMI 1.4 is out of control in that consumers actually need a) a new receiver or AV preamp b) a new Blu-ray player c) all new cables d) a new satellite receiver for DirecTV and e) glasses to watch the material which cost more than the Blu-players. All of this reinvestment spits in the face of even the most open-minded and well heeled consumers who might not want to throw away their entire home theater systems so they can see two or three possible blockbuster 3D titles.
The truth is that 3D sets are going to be killer HDTVs for 2D material. The next generation of Blu-ray players will all have HDMI 1.4 capability which will set the table for 3D. New AV preamps and receivers will be plentiful in six to nine months but for now, without question, HDMI 1.3 is perfectly acceptable for cutting edge home theater. Avoid the hype but be mindful of the future as 3D is coming to a flat HDTV near you and you will some day need to be ready. For now, HDMI 1.3 is plenty good enough for the cutting edge of home theater.