HDMI is going to break under the demands of HDR, certification expert says

While it is expected to kickstart moribund U.S. demand for 4K, the upcoming proliferation of complimentary technology High Dynamic Range (HDR) is going to expose weaknesses in the video industry's cable standard of choice, HDMI.

So said Jeffrey Boccaccio, founder and president of DPL Labs, which provides certification of 4K technology products. Speaking last week at the 14th Annual Fall MRI Expo in Sturbridge, Mass. -- an event covered by trades including CEPro -- Boccaccio called HDMI a "plug and prayer" technology. 

"You plug it in and pray it's going to work," he said. 

For installers of video systems, Boccaccio added, problems with HDMI are "only going to get worse."

Pay-TV operators including Comcast have said that once standards are backed for HDR's integration, they will begin aggressively expanding their 4K efforts. "HDR is going to be a tremendous quality driver that we want to embrace," said Matthew Strauss, executive VP and GM of video services for Comcast Cable, in an interview last month with FierceCable. "We feel very good about our ability to support it."

However, HDMI -- which can handle bandwidth of up to 18 Gbps -- might not be able to handle HDR. 

"HDR is stunning," Boccaccio said. "The gradients of scale are so dynamic it looks like 3D. But it drives HDMI all the way up to requiring 18 Gbps bandwidth." Boccaccio said today's 4K content is lacking in color depth and is transmitting at 10.2 Gbps, well below the higher bandwidth in the HDMI 2.0 spec.

As FierceInstaller reported in October, a number of groups, including Underwriters Laboratory, are stepping forward with certification programs to let installers know the cables they're using can handle a full 18 Gbps load. With HDR, after all, any flaw in the manufacturing process will be exposed. 

"4K today has worse color than 1080p," Boccaccio added. "In six months, as HDR becomes more prevalent, your cables will start to fail. Ask your manufacturers if they can handle HDR, not if they can handle 4K. If they do not know, walk away."

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