SOLVED: What Are The Differences Between HDMI 1.0 1.4 2.0 2.0a 2.0b & HDMI 2.1

HDMI 1.0 was released December 9th of 2002 and has been expanding features ever since.  A few years ago it looked like DisplayPort was going to kill HDMI but that has changed.  DisplayPort is still the domain of computers and HDMI is the domain of every other consumer electronic device from TV’s to cable boxes to automotive video.

As you can see in the grid below the two most notable changes came with:

  1. HDMI 1.4 in the summer of 2009 and nearly every HDMI device produced since supports it
  2. HDMI 2.0 in 2013 which popularized HDCP making it very difficult to pirate video

WHAT IS HDCP?

HDCP stands for High Definition Content Protection.  It scrambles video so that it can not be copied while in the cable.  Many people used to split the cables running to their TV so that the could record the video on a VCR.   This means you need an HDCP compliant cable to transfer the data and an HDCP compliant monitor to decode the content or you will not be able to watch most content.

If you want more information on HDCP, THIS CNet article does a good job of explaining HDCP version 2.2 from 2014.  Today you need a piece of hardware to decode your HDCP protected content if you want to clone it.

WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT HDMI SPECS?

Like all electronic specifications, HDMI has alot of details that consumers and even tech’s just don’t need to know.   Things like twists in the cable and the designation of power on certain pins are usually only of interest to manufacturers.  Below are the HDMI specs we think most consumers will care about.

HDMI 1.4 supports the past while HDMI 2.1 supports the future which a maximum resolution of 10K at 120Hz.  Nothing on the market today performs to that spec, but it will be here sooner than you think so if you want to buy a high end cable, we suggest you consider the HDMI 2.1 (when you can actually buy v2.1 cables!)

Below is a table of all the notable HDMI specifications you are likely to run into and the the last 4 items have links to solid articles that explain the feature in detail:

HDMI Version Release Date Max Resolution Max 4K Frame rate HDCP 2.2 HDMI Ethernet Audio Return Connector Type High Dynamic Range Wide Color Gamut Hybrid Log Gamma Dynamic Metadata Dolby Vision
1.0 Dec-02 2K n/a No No No A&B No No No No
1.4 May-09 4K 30Hz No No No ABCD&E No No No No
2.0 Sep-13 4K 60Hz Yes Yes Yes ABCD&E No No No No
2.0a Apr-15 4K 60Hz Yes Yes Yes ABCD&E Yes Yes No No
2.0b Mar-16 4K 60Hz Yes Yes Yes ABCD&E Yes Yes Yes No
2.1 Aug-18 10K 120Hz Yes Yes Yes ABCD&E Yes Yes Yes Yes

Here are what each of the HDMI connectors look like:

 

hdmi-connectors-type-a-b-c-d-e

 

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