Friday, March 03, 2006

Help Bluray and HD-DVD fail, for your own benefit

First of all, ask yourself why many of Sony's formats have failed. They are heavily proprietary. They are less convenient and more expensive. Not to mention that they don't play well with other equipment.

Before you get too excited about upcoming Bluray and HD-DVD discs, know that the movie studios are doing their best to make it as difficult for you as possible. The new formats will require HDCP and HDMI connections in order to display High Definition video. What does that mean?

What is HDCP?

From that definition, HDCP doesn't sound bad. It doesn't preventing copying. And it protects data. But the key term there is DVI interface. Not mentioned in the definition is also the HDMI interface. These are both different types of plugs in the back of your media devices, such as SVGA, RCA, or Component. In other words, HDCP cannot be used without one of these two interfaces.

HDMI Overview and Specs

Check out the fourth paragraph on the above link:

"Additionally, without support for HDCP, the video quality and resolution may be artificially downgraded by the signal source to prevent the end user from viewing or especially copying restricted content. "

In English, this means that your video quality will not be up to HD quality if you are not viewing it through an HDCP supported interface (in other words, DVD or HDMI). This holds true to both Bluray and HD-DVD; the picture quality will be purposely subpar if not used through an HDMI or DVI interface.

Now, in order to view HD content in the first place, you will need an HDTV. That is fairly easy since many HDTVs are dropping in price and we are seeing less SDTVs (Standard Definition Televisions). What you may not know, is many of the HDTVs available do not have DVI or HDMI inputs, but rather use Component connections (Red, Blue, and Yellow RCA-type connections). In effect, this means that an HDTV that you buy for well, HD, may not even be able to display video from HD-DVD or Bluray discs in High Definition!

Check the comments on the following link. Move down several, and users will start talking about problems they are having using their DVR equipment because of HDCP and not having HDMI inputs:

Check the comments on this article.

I find these comments a bit trustworthy since there is no issue of brand loyalty, just consumers having trouble with the annoying new technology. If you won't want to be one of those shafted consumers, I recommend avoiding HD-DVD and Bluray altogether. As said by several in the comments, DVI and HDMI are hardly any better than component anyway.