Monday, May 28, 2007

Why HDMI isn't there yet

I've railed for the last couple of years about how HDMI isn't delivering the goods that dealers need, and customers want.

Joining me today is guest columnist Dave Long, from the Evolution Audio Video agency. He had a little tirade in this month's dealer's newsletter, and he has graciously agreed to let me reprint it for your benefit:

HDMI is a nutty confusing business and it’s been it’s own worst enemy since playing in the same god-awful sandbox as the boys from the Ministry Of Silly Walks (HDCP). The marriage has produced some gut-wrenching results when innocent souls try to punch two simple pieces of equipment together. The handshakes don’t occur and if they do, they don’t the second time around, or the third. The connectors themselves are horrendously weakly designed and as such have to be handled like an open jar of Nitro. Dealers are feeling like they’d better keep away from that sharp-edged cliff because the real kick in the jewels is the supposed ease of use concept of running everything through the customer’s AV receiver that in the end, can’t pass the signal properly. Why? because of the idiotic various keys and versions the partnership has concocted in it’s mad laboratory high in the mountains of Transylvania, simply don’t mesh with each other.

That’s the way it’s been for many folk. Dealers far and wide have stayed away from HDMI and strongly suggested customers do the same but things have finally settled down. Manufacturers are placing the new 1.3 version of HDMI in the receiver’s bellies whereas many didn’t even have the initial version, hoping all would pass through like Component did…like Composite did. But HD is a different ball game and to an HDMI/HDCP signal, a receiver is just a middleman and the only reason a middleman is there it assumes… is to record and/or copy so it says, “not in THIS lifetime, Bobo!” and stops you dead. No picture… no signal… bugger all. You have just been classified as an HDCP terrorist and have been dutifully placed on the HDMI No-Fly list.

Dave goes on to pimp some great new products from PureLink that aim to solve some of these problems.

Adding his voice to the fray is emminent consultant and pundit Gary Kayye, who said in his online newsletter:

By now, you've probably all seen the HDMI connector (the connector standard for high-resolution HD-TV content) on something. It's everywhere.
It's on HD-DVD players, Blu-ray Disc players, HD DirecTV set-top boxes, Explorer 8300 HD Cable TV boxes, HD-flat panel TVs, Sony's PlayStation 3 - everywhere you see HD content.
But, it's also on progressive-scan DVD players.
And, that's where it sucks!
Look, unless you're outputting HD content that's truly digital and high-resolution (not the crappy cheaply scaled progressive scan DVD player HD-like output) then don't assume that HDMI is better than any other connector.
In fact, it's actually worse - in EVERY CASE of progressive scan DVD player I've tested.

Bottom line: we, and other integrators understand the limitations HDMI poses, and are not over-selling it at the moment, until several of these key issues can be resolved.

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