Peep behind your HDTV and you'll find at least one HDMI cable. It's the wire that lets your HD cable box or DVD player to connect with your TV screen, and it conforms to existing HDMI 1.3 standards. That means it's limited in a number of ways... which is why HDMI 1.4 is on the way.
The neatest bit of HDMI 1.4 is that it's capable of carrying video at 4096 x 2160 pixels with a 24 Hz refresh rate—that's enough resolution to support two entire 1080p signals. That's the key to delivering 3D TV. It's also robust enough to support the next-gen higher-def TV that will soon make your current shiny HDTV look like last-decade's junk.
The new cable would also have a built-in ethernet connection, meaning TVs will be able to communicate with wired data devices—like your home PC—without the need for a separate cable. That's going to be useful for the type of TV that's already emerging on the market with built-in, web-connected widget powers.
HDMI 1.4 will come in a micro-sized plug as well as the regular-sized one, which is better suited to connecting up gadgets like digital cameras and perhaps netbook PCs. There's even an automotive spec, designed for the more robust environment inside a car.
The details have been revealed well ahead of the final specification design—due by June 30—presumably so that the public can get used to the idea, while manufacturers get going on building compatibility into their devices. Which is where we come to the downside: It's still a whole new cabling system. In other words all those new devices will need a bunch of new cables. And that's always going to cost you, the consumer, more than you think it will.