As most of you know, HDMI is a connector that provides High Definition Video and Audio on a single cable. But do you need it?

Unfortunately HDMI is not all it's cracked up to be.

Did you know that HDMI carries an encryption token (called an HDCP key) that can lock you out of viewing content you have purchased?  The way the encryption works is as follows:

  1. a HDCP compliant player (such as a Bluray) will ask the TV connected to it for it's token
  2. Token is returned to player
  3. Player decides if the token is valid 
  4. Assuming a valid token is presented, the player will encrypt the video stream and start playing

This is a great system in theory, but here's what happens when something goes wrong in the exchange: NO VIDEO

So what exactly can go wrong, anyway?

  1. TV is not HDCP compliant (some early adopters of HDMI do not support HDCP, as well as certain computer monitors)
  2. TV is blacklisted, key is rejected - If you are trying to circumvent the copy protection scheme and the licensing authority gets wind of it, they will add the compromised key to their blacklist. How do they update your player, you ask? Inserting a new rental Bluray into your player will automatically update this list on your unit. Can't beat the system.
  3. Amplifier/Switcher are not HDCP compliant. Brilliant. This is probably the biggest potential failure as there are a LOT of amplifier units that switch HDMI but DO NOT handle HDCP. Solution? Bypass the amplifier...why would you want to bypass $1,000's worth of gear? That I cannot answer!

The biggest annoyance of the aforementioned issues is that you get absolutely no indication of why you can't view the content. For all you know, the HDMI cable is disconnected. Another annoyance about HDMI is that the connectors themselves do not lock into place and easily fall out of the device they were plugged into. (Leading to a question of what exactly the problem is)

This having been said, I regret to inform you that HDMI is the future and you WILL comply. It is actually being forced on us. Do you need HDMI? Yes you do. Licensing authorities have implemented an "analog sunset" giving a finite date of when the analog component video outputs will stop working on your bluray player. Even now, they are starting to be forced to lower quality (480i in some cases) output if you don't use the HDMI connector and a HDCP compliant display.

So, like it or not HDMI is here to stay. It is nice to know that the technology we are being forced to use does provide pretty impressive 1080p Deep Color Video and High Definition Surround Audio on a single cable. Things could in fact be worse.

HDMI connector

why do i need hdmi