3D HDTV and HDMI Explained

February 22nd, 2010 · 34 Comments · 3D HDTV, Blu-ray Players, DLP, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, Plasma

Blu-ray 3D signal420

(February 22, 2010)  The Internet is replete with bad information regarding 3D ready Blu-ray player/ surround sound receiver/ Full HD 3D TV (FHD3D) HDMI connectivity. Unfortunately, HD Guru is not immune from this: we recently passed along misinformation received in an email from an official Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) spokesperson, for which we apologize.

To set the record straight HD Guru recently met with Waheed Rasheed, director of product marketing for Silicon Image, the company that created HDMI and its related standards. He provided us with clear and precise information regarding the recently published HDMI standards as they relate to 3D products.

Full HD 3D

Transmitting uncompressed Full High Definition 3D (FHD3D) signals (defined as 1920 x 1080 resolution for both the left and right eye [each frame]) requires connecting a 3D Blu-ray player to a FHD3D TV using a suitable HDMI cable. The FHD3D signal’s bit rate is 6.75 Gbps (gigabits per second). The HDMI 1.4 standard’s maximum bit rate of 10.2Gbps is identical to that of the older HDMI 1.3 standard.

The 1920 x 2205 pixel at 24Hz (see drawing above) FHD3D signal differs from any previous HD or 3D signal. 1920 is the number of active pixels across each frame while 2205 pixels is the vertical resolution of two Full HD frames plus 45 pixels of active blanking separating the FHD left and right frames.

As the drawing illustrates, the signal places the two frames in a configuration known as “over/under”. This is the first and currently only FHD3D TV standard signal and because it is totally new, no non-FHD3D display can accept it.

This is important, as some consumer electronics writers speculate incorrectly that a modification will allow legacy 120Hz and 240Hz LCD displays to handle Blu-ray FHD3D content.

That said, Mitsubishi’s 2007, 2008 and 2009 legacy rear projection sets can be adapted to play these new FHD3D signals. Mitsubishi announced and demonstrated at the 2010 CES a converter box that down-converts the Blu-ray FHD3D HDMI signal (albeit at half resolution [960 x1080] for each eye). The converter box is due to arrive around the same time the first 3D capable Blu-ray players ship this spring.

The new HDMI 1.4 standard also permits another “over/under” 3D configuration at the lower 720p HD resolution (1280×720) at either 60Hz or 50 Hz Blu-ray player output.

All 3D Blu-ray players output FHD3D movies at 24 fps. Both LED LCD and CCFL backlit FH3D HDTVs internally convert the signal to sequential display (alternating left and right frames) at 240Hz (synchronizing with shutter glasses that provide 120 views per second for left and right eyes [120+120 =240]. All announced FHD3D plasma displays internally convert the 3D Blu-ray movie signals from “over/under” to frame sequential at 120 Hz for 60 views per second for each eye.


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Surround Sound Receivers

Unfortunately, your current HDMI equipped surround sound receiver will not pass the new FHD3D signal and no upgrades are possible according to both Sony and Denon. Why? A system called EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) currently handles communications between your TV, receiver and source components and it works fine. However, when your new 3D television communicates that it is an FHD3D television, the receiver will not understand because the 3D ID was not part of the standard when your receiver was designed. The receiver will shut off the HDMI signal and your new 3D TV screen will go black.

Your only solution will be to replace your receiver with a new one that’s 3D compatible or use one of a number of available “work arounds”.  You can still use your current HDMI receiver with Panasonic’s upcoming 3D Blu-ray player because it includes a separate “audio” only HDMI output. Connect the video HDMI directly to your 3D set and the audio HDMI to your receiver to decode Dolby TruHD or DTS lossless codecs. No other manufacturer has announced this feature. You can also use coax or optical digital  from the 3D Blu-ray player but you won’t get lossless audio and you’ll still have to connect the 3D Blu-ray player directly to the 3D HDTV to see the picture.

3D HDMI Cables

Will your existing 1.3 HDMI cables handle the FHD3D signal or will you have to replace them? The only way to really know is to connect it and see if they work. Some will, some won’t. If the cable can handle the 6.75 Gbps FHD3D data rate, it probably will.

There are two types of legacy 1.3 HDMI cables: Category 1 and Category 2. The former must be able to handle at least 2.25 Gbps signals, meaning it may not be able to handle FHD3D signal . Category 2 HDMI 1.3 cables handle signals up to 10.2 Gbps. These will certainly work.

The HDMI 1.4 standard has optional features for both TV and source component makers, including an audio return function and Ethernet connectivity (which allows one Ethernet signal to be carried to other connected components via HDMI if the maker includes this 1.4 feature).

To streamline HDMI cable selection Silicon Image dispensed with the old numerical system and replaced it with the following categories  (source: hdmi.org website):

Standard HDMI Cable
The Standard HDMI cable is designed to handle most home applications, and is tested to reliably transmit 1080i or 720p video the HD resolutions that are commonly associated with cable and satellite television, digital broadcast HD, and upscaling DVD players.

Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet
This cable type offers the same baseline performance as the Standard HDMI Cable shown above (720p or 1080i video resolution), plus an additional, dedicated data channel, known as the HDMI Ethernet Channel, for device networking. HDMI Ethernet Channel functionality is only available if both linked devices are HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled.

Automotive HDMI Cable
Designed for internal cabling of vehicles equipped with onboard HD video systems. Tested to a more robust performance standard, and capable of withstanding the unique stresses of the motoring environment such as vibration and temperature extremes.

High Speed HDMI Cable
The High Speed HDMI cable is designed and tested to handle video resolutions of 1080p and beyond, including advanced display technologies such as 4K, 3D, and Deep Color. If you are using any of these technologies, or if you are connecting your 1080p display to a 1080p content source, such as a Blu-ray Disc player, this is the recommended cable.

High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
This cable type offers the same baseline performance as the High Speed HDMI Cable shown above (1080p video resolution and beyond), plus an additional, dedicated data channel, known as the HDMI Ethernet Channel, for device networking. HDMI Ethernet Channel functionality is only available if both linked devices are HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled.

Edited by Michael Fremer

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34 Comments so far ↓

  • William K Rodman

    I have a LG TV 55LW5700, a Panasonic Bluray DVD model DMP-BDT210, and Harmon Kardon Reciever AVR 2600. All are 3D capable but I am having difficulties viewing the 3D image. I seem to get multiple images but the glasses do not resolve the image properly.
    Please advise how to resolve this problem.
    Thank you

  • Lindey Cloud

    I am considering buying a product which will convert an HDMI 1.4 signal to a 1.3 device. As I understand it, this device splits the left and right 3D frames and sends them to the projector. You can then use an emitter and glasses to block the left and right frame as appropriate. If I understand this correctly, this should give you full 3D resolution as you are viewing 1920×1080 in each eye. So, instead of sacrificing resolution, you sacrifice v-sync rates per eye. This leads me to my question that has to do with vertical sync rates and frames per second (assuming I’ve got things correct above). My projector has a v-sync rate of 100Hz max. The “Theater” box (by a company called 3DNow) will support a v-sync of 96Hz. Initially, I figured “okay, I should get 2 frames per eye every 1/48 of a second; that works out nice and I don’t have to think about these 3/2 pull down issues I’ve been hearing about (and not entirely sure I understand completely, but think it has to do with fps and v-sync rates)”. When I saw the diagram at the top of your page and saw “active blanking” of 45 pixels (1/24th of the v-sync rate, got to thinking “It seems like you’d have to add 1/24th (or 100 rather than 96Hz) to the v-sync rate to make frames match up exactly with the refresh rate. Am I missing something? Also, I don’t understand why you are saying 2205 pixels vertical total between two frames. Shouldn’t it be 2250 as you’re talking about 2 frames but only 1 active blanking section?

    I’m an engineer, but don’t know much about video.

    Hope this makes sense….

  • Nahiko

    Hi Mr Guru :-)

    Does all this info mean, that if a HDMI cable is marked as HDMI 1.4, it might not be suitable for full3D?

    Cheers and thanks!!

    There is no designation for 1.4 cables from HDMI licensing. If it is a “Hi Speed” HDMI cable (which is the proper labeling), it is compatible with all 3D source signals.

    HD Guru

  • Kurt

    I really appreciate the information on your site. I was recently told at a Best Buy store that I needed 13Gbps or higher to prevent 3D pixilation problems. Your site seems to clear that up.
    My question is about Ethernet connectivity. If both my devices have the capability (wireless) and I only use a High Speed cable, what capabilities do I give up?
    Thanks Again!

  • Maurice

    I have a vizio 3D hd tv and I try to watch the 3d show i downloaded off of netflix but the image is just spit in half no real 3d effect and even useing the glasses the image dosnt come together. I got hmdi cables at wal-mart but didnt pay attention as to the rate. could the cables be the problem as to why the 3d dosnt work like it should or do I need to try and 3d dvd and c if it works.

  • joel

    I’m an owner of a Yamaha z-11 and have no intension of replacing it with a 3d ready receiver. The only thing stopping me from getting the adapter for my Mitsubishi 3d ready wd73833 is a way getting hd audio to my receiver. You mentioned panasonic may have a solution but I don’t know what model you are referring to in your” walk around” notes. I don’t think I’m alone in this matter. Any updates?

  • NeilB


    Might be a simple question. I am connecting my ps3 to my new 3d Tv (samsung ue46c8000) using a new 1.4 hdmi cable. The cable will display the playstaion menu at [email protected] but not [email protected], but will display [email protected] – do you know why this is ?

  • Kevin

    I have a Sony kdl55810nx and have a few movies in 3d hooked up with hdmi 1.4 cables there is no setting for the 3d so any side by side 3G won’t work why

  • Shashi Naraine

    I’ve purchased a 55′ Sony LED 3D TV. Do I need a 3D HDMI cable to connect it to my cable box as well as my playstation 3 to use the 3D functionality? Or can I just use my existing high speed HDMI cable?

    Any “hi-speed” HDMI cable will handle 3D signals for any 3D TV. The labeling of an HDMI cable as “3D” is just marketing tool used by the cable maker and does not denote the cable’s ability to handle 3D signals.

    HD Guru

  • Luke

    Will a 50 Feet 1.4HDMI cable running from my AMP to Plasma T.V (Currently doing now) Still work if I connect it to a 1.3HDMI splitter/


    No simple answer. I assume you really mean an HDMI distribution amplifier. Connecting a second display could run into problems such as EDID conflict. Consult the HDMI distribution amplifier maker for advice.

    HD Guru

  • JD

    I know 1.3 A/V/R’s are not supposed to work right with 3D, so why does my Marantz SR2008 seem to work ok with 2010 Sammy 3D Plasma? I only have one HS HDMI cabel out to TV from my A/V/R with Directv and PS3 running straight to my A/V/R and then no HDMI to Tv directly but is going through my Marantz. I am getting all 3D video and audio from Directv and games from PS3. Can you explain why it is working if it isn’t supposed to be unless one is going from source straight to TV (and not go through reciever)?


  • Mr. Johnson

    There is a massive potential market for a 3D converter box that will add an IR emitter and shutter glasses to any person’s system and let them watch true 3D if their TV can simply display the 3D picture itself, which is the case with nearly every set made in the past several years.

    So long as the customer has a 3D-capable Blu-Ray player and this as-yet non-existent product, a person would not have to shell out another 2000 dollars to replace a fairly new TV just to get 3D on it.

    Is there any company working on such an adapter as far as you know?

  • Vibhor

    Hi, I have Samsung TV with 1.3 HDMI inputs now i am looking to buy a reciever, so will a 1.4 hdmi receiver work with my old TV????

  • Falahuk

    I have Samsung 3D TV and 1.4 HDMI cabel

    olso Dreambox 500HD Can i watch 3D chanel

  • Gekke Henkie

    Do I understand correctly that:
    1. Panasonic 3D plasma’s do a 3:2 pull-down (24p -> 60 frames per eye), while
    2. Samsung/LG/Sony LCD’s do a 5:5 pull-down (24p -> 120 frames per eye)?

    Not for 3D with Samsung. It displays 60 frames per eye. The TV shows 120 frames per second of image, alternating with 120 frames of black screen (i.e. left eye image, black screen, right eye image, black screen, left eye image etc).
    HD Guru

  • cudelb

    Dear Guru,

    I understand that 1.3 HDMI AVR cannot pass through the 3D signal because the Full 3D TV would “tell” the receiver (through the EDID protocol)that it is a HD3D television and the receiver will not understand (because the 3D ID was not part of the standard when the AVR was designed.) In order to circumvent this, could there not be an option on the 3D TV that asks whether one is using a 1.3 or 1.4 HDMI AVR? In the case where a 1.3 HDMI AVR is used, then the TV would not identify itself as a “3D TV”, but as a regular “HDTV”. Could it work? Can the ID, as far as the EDID is concerned, be software based or is it definitely always hardware based?

  • katnrica

    In the illustration at the top of this article, it is more precise and technically correct to say ‘1080 lines’ rather than 1080 pixels. Likewise, the vertical-blanking interval should be stated as ’45 lines’ rather than ’45 pixels’.

  • gaff


    Great article! I (like Lee-post of 2/25/10) have 1.3 HDMI AVR and am looking to buy my first blu-ray player. Looks like the new Panny 350 if I want to try to future proof. Is there any merit to his query regarding a cable that can split 1.4 Video to display and 1.3a audio to receiver? Can it be engineered?

  • jnga

    1)will the mitsu 3d adapter pass thru hdmi audio, particularly multi-channel LPCM, or DDTrueHD/DTS-MA? 2)will the checkerboard 3d video output of the mitsu 3d adapter pass thru an HDMI switching receiver to the tv?

    if yes to both, then the mitsu 3d adapter will solve the 3d HDMI switching receiver problem by placing the mitsu 3d adapter between the 3d BD player and the receiver, right?

  • Kurt Hoffmeister

    Great Article! In paragraph before Surround Sound Receiver discussion you wrote “at 240Hz (synchronizing with shutter glasses that provide 120 views per second for left and right eyes [120+120 =240].” Most glasses will not operate at rates above ~180 Hz. I believe a right-eye frame is shown twice while right eye of glasses is “open”, then same for the left eye. So the glasses only operate 120 Hz. This also implies that full of motion blur reduction can not be available when watching 3D content.
    Regards, -Kurt

  • Althorpe

    Hi Guru

    … many years ago – like about 10, I visited the Communications Research Centre in Ottawa Canada. During my tour they showed me HDTV and I told them I’ve seen this before in MOntreal about 3 years previous. Then they showed me HD 3D TV. Very impressed. They said it would be 10 years before we saw it in the market place.

    I asked why they were farting around with this format and they said they were doing research for companies on the special glasses you need to wear. Apparently, you do not need 100% signal to each eye. They were playing around with how much of the signal they could reduce (less bandwidth). They said that the brain can “correct” for a certain amount of lost signal – sort of like the brain can fill in the blanks up to a certain point before it cannot and you start to “see” the degradation. Have you heard anything about this reducing bandwidth concept?

  • Steven

    How did Digital Projection release 3D-ready projectors before the Blu-ray spec was finalized?

  • Patrick

    I have last year’s Samsung 3D plasma set, the PN50B450-720p-hdmi 1.3, Will the new 3D blu ray players work with this television?

  • Chud

    Where does the PS3 fit into this? Sony has said that a firmware update will allow it to pass 3D. Will it be full 1080p to each eye 3D? Will the PS3 have the same EDID problem with older receivers or will it work since it is not a true 3D player to begin with and only is so due to an update?

  • denisa

    This short article was most helpful. I’ve just rejoined the TV rat race, only to find that I’ve rejoined at the start of a brand new race with everything new. Many thanks.

  • Lee


    Kudo’s on a great job. You busted so many myths and misinformation about 3D from Blu-ray with just that one picture. LOL – it truly is worth a thousand words.

    Do you see any of the HDMI splitter/switch companies selling one that does the same thing that the Panasonic 3D BD player does? That is – seperates the 1.4 3D video from the 1.3 HD audio.

    BTW, there is a photo of the back of the new Panasonic BDT350 player on the internet showing the two HDMI outputs. They are labeled MAIN and SUB.

    Very surprised the other manufacturers aren’t doing this.

  • AJ Dekker

    Whats an HDMI Cable? And what does 1080p give you?

  • Howard

    The current Mits 3D ready DLP sets work well with a HTPC equipped with Nvidia’s 3D Vision shutter glasses. Will 3D Blu-Ray discs be able to be played via this kind of configuration?

  • Jason

    One thing I noticed that wasn’t correct.
    Category 1 (“Standard”) cables only support up to 2.25Gbps. If using FHD3D, consumers would more than likely need to have a Category 2 (“High Speed”) cable unless the cable run is very, very short.

    Thanks for the catch. Category 1 is tested to pass a 2.25 Gbps bandwidth signal. Corrected

    HD Guru

  • Lakers

    Thanks for the laservue update. I was just thinking about those sets while reading this. I use a ps3 now with a htib for audio so I think I’ll be ok because I have my LCD directly connected to the ps3 for video anyway. Now I just need to figure out if I should get a projector for the huge screen or go with plasma or lasers. This is what keeps me up at night. Thanks Guru!

  • Butch

    I have but one question: when will TV manufacturers release data on which of their sets will be able to view 3D from a PS3? I have a newer samsung DLP that was “3D ready” but I imagine that it won’t.

  • David S.

    OK,OK,OK…….I guess it does appear to be more of a interview(lol). So…ummm…..thanks for taking the pop quiz,looks like you get top honors again.
    thank you,

  • etype2

    Excellent article!

    All very good points and questions. Do your research and wait for things to get sorted out by the manufactures. I am hoping to see my first 3D demo in the next few days.

  • David S.

    How does the Directv 3d channel work? Is it broadcast in the new 2205 or a different manor? Will current HD receivers work as long as the tv is 3d ready? I have been waiting for the new Tivo HD receiver that is to come out this year for directv. Will this work with Dircetv’s broadcast 3d or is a 3d receiver in the works that will need to be used for broadcast 3d? If broadcast 3d is different than the new 2205 will those with the older Mit. 3d ready tv’s work with the broadcast signal or is that also in need of a fix like the converter box for 3d blue ray? I have been very interested in the laservue by Mit. now that you can find a couple of places selling it for around $3800-$4000. Still more than what most of the top of the line new 3d plasma and lcds are hinted at costing(hearing little more than $3000 list price for top of the line models). But with laser using much less power,shouldn’t lose color brightness or black level over time,3d ready and this in a 65in. vs 50in to 60in plasma and lcd’s I felt that it might be worth the extra money now that the difference isn’t as great. Now that the standard for 3d seems to be set it appears the current laservue will need the converter box for 3d blueray which comes at a price of reduced resolution. Has Mit. mentioned or hinted that a new version or updated version of the laservue will be made that accepts the 2205 pic?
    Thank you,


    HD Guru has a limit of two questions. Just kidding.

    How does the Directv 3d channel work?

    Its Side by Side one-half resolution (960 x 1080) The left and right images are squeezed in one frame.

    Is it broadcast in the new 2205 or a different manor?

    See above

    Will current HD receivers work as long as the tv is 3d ready?

    DirecTV says yes, via a firmware upgrade from the satellite.

    I have been waiting for the new Tivo HD receiver that is to come out this year for directv. Will this work with Dircetv’s broadcast 3d or is a 3d receiver in the works that will need to be used for broadcast 3d?

    No news yet on the new upcoming DirecTV HD TiVo. An announcement is expected next month.

    If broadcast 3d is different than the new 2205 will those with the older Mit. 3d ready tv’s work with the broadcast signal or is that also in need of a fix like the converter box for 3d blue ray?

    The current Mitsubishi 3D HDTVs don’t accept side by side 960 x 1080 HD now, but the upcoming 3D adapter will allow side by side 3D signals to be viewed.

    Has Mit. mentioned or hinted that a new version or updated version of the laservue will be made that accepts the 2205 pic?

    Mitsubishi says they will announce its 2010 Laservue and LCDs this Spring.

    HD Guru

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