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Opinion
My HDMI Conundrum
HDMI cable
March 23, 2007 | by John Caldwell
Columnist John Caldwell says HDMI is great in theory, but the technology isn’t where it needs to be.
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Posted by Bob jones  on  03/28  at  10:57 AM

The questions here are intrguing and suggest both those that developed the technology and those that implement it need to create a program that compnanies from developers to retailers can use to educate their teams.

Installers need to be aware of the issues, but more important than that is the implementation. Lets face it, the cable companies are not going to replace every box, and as long as consumers keep hearing from the floors that HDMI is the end all be all of connection options, fingers are going to be pointed everywhere and most of them in the wrong direction.

We are now into connections that allow connected products to talk to one another, it goes beyond a simple video connection, and this also seems to be where almost everyone I run into is missing the basic information that will help them understand what is happening.

HDMI switching, repeaters, and now scalers in products are now more common than ever and unless people are aware of how to use these then connection issues will be assured.

Maybe an article is in order that helps to identify products and their design approaches. It would be useful to know which items were intentionally designed as source-to-sink devices, those that were designed to work with HDMI switches, and those that will work with repeaters and scalers.

Posted by Danny  on  03/28  at  07:38 PM

I think the point is not whether HDMI is ready… technologically it is. It is the ridiculous “copy protection” schemes that cause the bulk of the problems. We spend way too much time, money, and energy trying to make content pirate-proof. The consumer loses because now they can’t just turn on the TV and see a great picture. The installer loses because he looks dumb when he can’t fix the customer’s picture. The electronics manufacturer loses because people think he’s making junk.
Until people raise enough stink with legislators about fair use and copyright reform, it will only get worse. Call or write your Congressman and demand fair use reforms to unshackle your electronics.

Posted by Mac Slocum  on  03/30  at  04:19 PM

Steve Venuti, Director of Marketing for HDMI Licensing LLC, responds:

1. Multiple Display Distribution:

HDMI is designed as a point to point interface. The HDCP encryption used on HDMI does allow a protected video to be distributed to up to 128 displays with no limitation on the ability to perform video processing/scaling on any of the outputs. The HDMI distribution product that the writer used should have been able to output the HDMI input onto both of the HDMI outputs assuming the 2 projection displays support HDCP.  If it did not work, this is not a limitation of the HDMI or HDCP specification, but an issue with the design of the particular product(s) that he used.  So from a technical perspective, HDMI and HDCP do allow such a usage model.  Note that it was unclear from the article whether the author was looking for a splitter that would take a single input and send a different format (e.g 720p, 1080i) to each of the displays.  If this is the case, then the splitter product will not work as this would require a separate scaler on each output, which would make the device more costly.

Ultimately, the need and demands of the market are what will drive manufacturers to create such products.  Again, it’s important to note that the HDMI and HDCP specifications impose no limitations on these types of usage models, but the market ultimately decides what kind of products actually go to production.

2. Latching Connector:

The vast majority of CE connectors do not have latches because 1) latches make the connector’s footprint larger, 2) CE connectors are typically horizontally mounted, so once it’s in, there are no natural forces (i.e. gravity) that would dislodge them, 3) during the times that a CE device might be subject to movement (such as during equipment upgrade), it’s preferable that the cable connector becomes dislodged from the device instead of the device’s connector PCB becoming damaged from a connector with no break away provision (which might happen with something like a DVI connector).

However, it is recognized that more consumers are mounting cable vertically to wall mounted displays, and that some HDMI connectors dislodge more easily than desired when equipment is being moved.  As a result, we are actively investigating a connector solution that includes a latch with a safe break away provision to avoid damage to equipment. In addition, we launched an approved connector vendor program that identifies connectors that have been tested for compliance, which should also reduce the occurrence of such incidents.

3. No HDMI 1.3 AVRs on the market

The HDMI 1.3 specification was released relatively recently.  Sony, being one of the HDMI Founding companies, was able to incorporate HDMI 1.3 into the PS3 which launched at the end of 2006. As a result, we are indeed seeing a number of HDMI AV receivers (along with TVs) being announced and demonstrated for production this year.  Below is an example of the ones I know about off the top of my head:

Denon:
http://tinyurl.com/yyhuzh

Sherwood:
http://tinyurl.com/34w26l
http://tinyurl.com/2pjzt7

Onkyo:
http://tinyurl.com/3avxl3

Sony:
http://tinyurl.com/2k26t9

Again, the availability of products is not something within the control of the HDMI specification, but up to manufacturers to provide based on market demand.

Final note: using analog or older legacy connections is not a long term solution, and may further limit a consumer from enjoying all the capabilities of their products.  For example, a number Blu-ray players (such as Samsung’s BDP1000 and the PS3) do not support 1080p over component, and will only do so over HDMI.  Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio can not be supported over coax or optical SPDIF connectors due to the greater data rate requirements. xv.Color and Deep Color are also video features that can not be realized over the component video connection.  Much of these limitations have nothing to do with the content protection, but are simply the result of these older connections running out of steam and not having the technical foundation to deliver higher performance audio and video capabilities. There’s a limit to how much performance that you can squeeze out of 10+ year old technologies.

Posted by gt350  on  04/03  at  03:27 AM

As a installer when I went by the HDMI booth at CES it was all i could do to restrain myself not to give them a few adjectives about this problem device. They owe installers allot of money in lost time in trouble shooting. So any customer that i work with I have sign a wavier about how I cant guarantee how long the video will work. I don’t have time to wait for a fix, or a reputation to be soiled by a standards that are enacted by people hapless in there work If I would install like these standards—well we know i would be out of a job!.

Posted by Chris Calnan  on  04/05  at  09:28 PM

Fiber Fiber Fiber…do not be afraid of Fiber   Maybe we will get Photonic smart switches in the 1.4 rev and reliable connectors. You could bury 2 fibers in the HDMI form factor and have lats more   dare I say it   bandwidth..  PS Fiber is really cheap and automation friendly.  None of todays installers are going to “solder” a HDMI connector on… So lets encourage the photonics indusrty lets seek them out and invest in them before well you know…

Posted by Sreeram  on  06/11  at  01:43 AM

I would like to know the following details about HDMI.Can anyone help?
1. Will the CEC (consumer electronics control) protocol inside a HDMI Source and HDMI Sink be the same?

2.    Are HDMI switches which support CEC protocol available commercially? I have seen some HDMI switch products which come with a separate remote. In cases where 2 HDMI sources are routed via a 2x1 HDMI switch (with CEC and a remote) to a HDTV, do I need a separate remote to operate my TV and a separate one to operate my HDMI switch? If yes, then is it not that the advantage of HDMI is being lost?

3.    Do we have cases like a HDMI switch and A/V receiver both supporting CEC protocol and both being mounted inside a HDTV? If yes, then will a single remote be used to control the basic operations of a TV as well as the basic switch functionalities (of selecting either one of the 2 sources being connected to the HDMI switch)?

4.    Will the HDMI switch do any control function? To be more specific say I have 2 HDMI sources (Set top box and DVD player), one 2x1 HDMI switch and one HDTV. All are just connected without any signal transaction (ie., all 3 three devices are in power-down mode). Is it possible for me to turn on the DVD player, HDMI switch and TV using the single remote?

5.    The HDMI offers many features like one touch play, one-touch record, etc… If I want a one touch play feature is it enough if I press one touch play button in the remote? Will the DVD player be powered on by itself?

6.    Consider a display device like TV is present. It is connected to one HDMI source say Set-top box (STB) in one HDMI port and a HDMI switch in another HDMI port (The HDMI switch is assumed to support CEC protocol). The EDID information to both the sources will be stored in the VSDB part of the TV(root sink device).

a.    Now, if I connect a DVD player to the HDMI switch how will the EDID information to the DVD player be assigned? Will it be got from the EDID of the switch or the EDID of the TV?

b.    Will the DVD player know all the manufacturer configuration details of both the TV and the switch by means of the EDID information transmitted via the DDC channel?

c.    Also how will the physical and logical addresses be assigned to the DVD player?

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