When the HDMI 1.4 spec was announced, 3D television and movies seemed to be the most commonly touted advancements. If you want 3D, they said, you need HDMI 1.4. Of course, things got a bit confusing later when the Blu-ray association announced the requirements to view 3D Blu-ray movies and lumped the PS3 in as a compatible player.
Since Sony’s Playstation 3 is a game console that supports HDMI 1.3 – not the seemingly required 1.4 – it seemed that the PS3 was somehow singled out as an exemption. Thanks to some more information from the HDMI Licensing group, we now know that all devices capable of online firmware updates will be able to play 3D movies.
Most, if not all BD-Live capable Blu-ray players will be upgradeable to the new standard. Satellite receivers and cable boxes can be upgraded as well, but in both cases, there’s a catch. To view 3D video in 1080p, your television needs to show two 1080p pictures at a near simultaneous rate, and that’s something that HDMI 1.3 just can’t handle. Essentially, going 3D doubles the amount of information going through the cable.
Simply stated, if you’re watching a Blu-ray movie in 3D with HDMI 1.3, you’ll get a 1080i 3D experience. It’s a bit of a loss, but it’s pretty acceptable as far as sacrifices go. The big hit comes with cable boxes.Since cable boxes send out a 1080i signal, when going 3D you’ll end up with a 540i resolution. The decreased video quality is a pretty big hit, and it’s up to set-top box makers and broadcasters to get it figured out.