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HDMI: Some thoughts (both informal and expert) on the new connectivity


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#1 of 77 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 17 2007 - 06:51 PM

I've recently added another "position paper" to my HT web site and it's entitled, "The Wonderful and Sometimes Confusing World of HDMI Connections" A subtitle might be, "Everything you wanted to know about HDMI but were afraid to ask."

Posted Image

You can view it HERE.

The purpose of this thread is to provide a place to discuss HDMI and, perhaps, some of the things brought out in the article. Feel free to ask or comment on anything related to this topic.

As a bonus, I've made arrangements for my friend, Jano Banks, to stop in from time to time (as his busy schedule permits) to handle the more technical questions that may be posed. Jano is the second name listed on the HDMI patent, so his credentials in this area are beyond reproach. (I've always wanted to travel beyond reproach - I hear that it's quite interesting).

Posted Image

Seriously, this is the place to discuss, share and learn about some of the aspects of HDMI that you may have wondered about. Remember, this is a "glass half full" site (in comparison to "glass half empty" sites) so let's keep things focused.



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#2 of 77 OFFLINE   Jonathan Kaye

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Posted October 18 2007 - 02:51 AM

Very interesting read. I'm thinking of getting a 4x1 box to complement my HD satellite receiver, PC and (in the fullness of time) Blu-ray & HD DVD (or dual-format). My question is, are such boxes generally good for passing various refresh rates from PCs? I use Powerstrip on my PC to enable playback of 'NTSC' films on DVD at 48Hz for judder-free picture and correct sound pitch, and don't want to spend money on a box only to find it doesn't work for that sort of setup!
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#3 of 77 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 18 2007 - 03:07 AM

Good question, Jonathan. I would think, off the top of my head that you'd probably have a better chance of this occurring (passing through refresh rates) with a more expensive box rather than the bargain solution - but I'm not sure. There has to be a reason (other than greed) for some manufacturers charging more for one product over a similar one.

I will say that your question points out why I think that it is so important to try to get permission to return a product to a vendor at no charge (other than postage, etc.) if it doesn't do the job for you. And don't think I'm just trying to steer you to the the more expensive products. I still advocate starting with the least expensive option and working your way up if something doesn't fit.

Incidentally - when I posted the article last night the HTF was undergoing some scheduled maintenance (I think) so things were running really slow. I intend to try to get Jano Banks (The HDMI guy) on board as soon as we get him set up so that he can answer questions just like the one you just posed. Jano would probably know as well as anyone what signals get through an HDMI path unscathed and which do not. He's a very busy man, but he said he will try to check in from time to time to provide answers to HDMI issues. Just don't expect quick turnaround, especially since I don't speak for him.

Happy Handshaking!

Posted Image

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#4 of 77 OFFLINE   Jonathan Kaye

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Posted October 19 2007 - 02:38 AM

Thanks, Robert. I look forward to any additional info Jano can add in due course!Posted Image
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#5 of 77 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 19 2007 - 03:29 AM

You're welcome, Jonathan. We are in the process of setting up an account for Jano as he has given us the go-ahead and I've already alerted him to the fact that there's a question out there that might benefit from his input. Whether he chooses to response individually or in "batch mode" is completely up to him, based on his availability and other commitments.

Incidentally, the general consensus among people whom I've talked to on the question of passing refresh rate information via HDMI seems to be, "it should work" but I'll defer to Jano and, of course, actual experience (that 'try and buy' philosophy.) Sorry I can't be more specific, but the goal here is to provide factual information and not to offer opinion as fact.
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#6 of 77 OFFLINE   Gregory Pauswinski

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Posted October 19 2007 - 04:13 AM

That's an excellent and informative article, RAF. Thank you!

#7 of 77 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted October 19 2007 - 05:50 AM

Great article, RAF! I thought I knew enough about HDMI: I didn't.

Now I need one of those repeaters (working as output switch). Hopefully they can be ordered on the 'net soon.


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#8 of 77 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted October 20 2007 - 04:14 AM

RAF,

The order of inventor's names on a patent doesn't legally mean anything, so you can drop the "he's second on the list" when talking about Jano. You are either an "inventor" or you are not.

I presume you are discussing US Patent # 7,257,163 assigned to Silicon Image? For those interested, you can download a free .pdf at www.pat2pdf.org . It goes into a great deal of detail.
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#9 of 77 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 20 2007 - 04:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Nicholls
RAF,

The order of inventor's names on a patent doesn't legally mean anything, so you can drop the "he's second on the list" when talking about Jano. You are either an "inventor" or you are not.

I presume you are discussing US Patent # 7,257,163 assigned to Silicon Image? For those interested, you can download a free .pdf at www.pat2pdf.org . It goes into a great deal of detail.

Dennis,

Thanks for the link to the actual HDMI patent. Very informative. And as to my writing and choice of words - you are reading too much into them or are taking them too literally. My mention of "he's second on the list" was a stylistic approach to saying that Jano knows what he's talking about where HDMI is concerned. I chose not to call him the "inventor" of HDMI because that might imply that he was the sole inventor and it was clearly a team effort. I never meant to imply that there is a legal pecking order in such matters. However, having been involved in several situations throughout my life where there were collaborative efforts I do know for a fact that very often the order in which the participants are listed on a document sometimes pays homage to the amount of their contributions - at least in the eyes of the participants or of the sponsors. So while there may not be any "legal" meaning to the order of the names there is often some significance in the community involved.

Let's all agree on one thing - Jano Banks is an authority on HDMI because he is intimately involved in its creation and development, O.K.? That's the point I was trying to get across and I assume that most people understood that without trying to read too much into the way I choose to write.

(I hope these remarks don't come across too harshly because they are intended to clarify, not to get confrontational. I like to think of the HTF as a "glass half full forum" unlike some other venues.) Posted Image
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#10 of 77 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted October 20 2007 - 05:08 AM

Sorry RAF...I'm a patent attorney and my mind goes into "legalese parse mode" whenever people start talking about patents.
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#11 of 77 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 20 2007 - 09:29 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Nicholls
Sorry RAF...I'm a patent attorney and my mind goes into "legalese parse mode" whenever people start talking about patents.

Aha! I did not know that so I fully understand why my remarks may have struck a nerve with you based on your profession. I think you realize that I didn't mean to elevate Jano's position on the HDMI hierarchy with my "2nd on the patent" reference, but was just trying to get my point across as to his qualifications. My choice of words was probably not the best under those circumstances. I think we can agree that Jano qualifies as an expert witness in HDMI matters and I look forward to even a limited participation by him in this thread should the occasion warrant (and his schedule permits).
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#12 of 77 OFFLINE   Jonathan Kaye

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Posted October 29 2007 - 02:16 AM

Just to update, I bought an unpowered 4x1 box in my local Curry's (electrical retail store) the other weekend, that was the more expensive of the two they had but was reduced in its sale to the same price as the cheaper one.Posted Image After testing it out late last night, it appears to work fine with my PC's graphics card. I've only had time so far to test it at default 60Hz, but hopefully it'll work fine with Powerstrip at 50Hz (for PAL discs) and 48Hz (for NTSC).
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#13 of 77 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 30 2007 - 02:58 AM

Thanks for sharing, Jonathan. I can also relate a personal story which seems to indicate that what I've recommended makes at least a bit of sense.

My significant other's son needed more HDMI inputs on their one input set (a Sony HDTV CRT heavyweight) to accommodate an HD Cable DVR, a Blu-ray player and an HD-DVD player. I had an old Monoprice 4x1 switch sitting around which I purchased about 2 years ago for about $120 and never needed so I gave it to him to try out. Guess what - only two of the four HDMI inputs functioned at all, and even then there were problems with suddenly dropped signals, audio, random flashing screens, etc. All the things I wrote about in my article. In fact, I pointed him to it and he remarked, "Exactly!" It then occurred to me to lend him my Radiient Select-4 unit and, to his amazement, it cured all the connection problems and has worked perfectly for over a week. They don't know it yet, but an early Christmas present (A Radiient Select-4CE) will soon be theirs.

The point of all this is not to single out Radiient as the only supplier of compliant HDMI hardware but, also based on stories like yours, to understand that things have gotten better over the past year or so. I'm thinking more and more that it might be how old the HDMI equipment is that you purchase as manufacturers begin to respond to problems from the field with more compliant products. Another "bullet" in my paper might read
  • Go with newer, rather than older, HDMI products to maximize connectivity success.

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#14 of 77 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 30 2007 - 03:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Kaye
Just to update, I bought an unpowered 4x1 box in my local Curry's (electrical retail store) the other weekend, that was the more expensive of the two they had but was reduced in its sale to the same price as the cheaper one.Posted Image After testing it out late last night, it appears to work fine with my PC's graphics card. I've only had time so far to test it at default 60Hz, but hopefully it'll work fine with Powerstrip at 50Hz (for PAL discs) and 48Hz (for NTSC).

One more thing - If it works with everything, then that's fine. If any problems develop in the future than I would suspect that the fact that the switch draws power from the HDMI line might be a factor. As I mentioned, I personally have found that if you use an unpowered multiple INPUT switch rather than a multiple OUTPUT switch you have a slightly better success rate. Something about going to multiple outputs appears to be involved in the equation.

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#15 of 77 OFFLINE   jeffask

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Posted October 30 2007 - 03:51 AM

Are HDMI cables really worth it?

#16 of 77 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 30 2007 - 12:51 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffask
Are HDMI cables really worth it?

If you mean, should you use HDMI connections if available the answer is definitely. You get both video and audio over a single wire and in some cases it's the only way you can get the HD audio codecs to your AVR or pre/pro.

If you mean, should you spend a lot on HDMI cables then the answer is no. The overpriced HDMI cables are just that - overpriced, no matter what the manufacturers claim. I go into detail regarding this in my article referenced in the first message of this thread.
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#17 of 77 OFFLINE   POPEYE

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Posted November 03 2007 - 12:06 AM

Great article; I expect that HDMI connections will replace the scard connections from now but I am wondering if the prizes of high definition television and blue ray disk will decrease so much that everyone will replace their dvd players, dvd recorders and televisions. At this moment the prices are too high to make it to a success and I don't see the profit of HDMI in case you can't receive HDMI broadcoasts on television. There are not enough channels in this quality and it is only suitable for new movies made in this quality.

#18 of 77 OFFLINE   stevenHa

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Posted November 03 2007 - 11:23 PM

I want to purchase an Oppo player for my Panasonic TH-42PX60U that I bought 2 years ago which has 2 HDMI connections. The Oppo site says that in order to use their upconverting DVD player the set must be HDCP. Does this model use that and if HDMI is present does it automatically imply the set uses HDCP ? Thanks.

#19 of 77 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted November 04 2007 - 12:03 AM

Yes, if the receiver has HDMI, it also has HDCP. The remark is especially important for those who wish to use DVI inputs (when you would be using a HDMI -> DVI cable), because standard PC monitors having a DVI input weren't HDCP compliant (why would they have been?). Newer ones are, BTW.


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#20 of 77 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 20 2007 - 07:19 AM

I have heard that some believe that budget HDMI cables are perfectly fine over short distances, say under 2 meters, is this true?
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