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HD-A2 HDMI/DVI HDCP woes

November 16th, 2007

So, we all know that everyone who’s ANYONE picked up an HD-A2 the other day. We know that. We also know that all the Audioholics crew picked one up (because we told you). So, what happens when a bunch of Audioholics get a piece of equipment… well, let’s call it “demystification” (or – Tom has an issue).

As a reviewer, I am often switching out gear. It’s a fact of life. Recently, in a fit of what can only be described as “uncharacteristic lucidity” I set up a stand next to my component cabinet with the Oppo HM-31 HDMI switch connected to one of the HDMI inputs on my Denon 2307CI which streams the video up to the Westinghouse LVM-42×2 via HDMI to DVI cable. Why HDMI to DVI cable? Because (as I learned during the review of the Sony BDP-S300) the HDMI input on the Westinghouse don’t likie 1080p (it’ll show it but it comes out full of sparkles). Got it? Good.

So, I had no problems during the Sony review, but once I installed the HD-A2, I noticed that I was only getting 480p output. Well, that ain’t right. So I check the firmware. Yep, a new one released. So I update. Surely that’ll fix the problem. Nope. Still 480p. Time to go into troubleshooting mode:

  1. Try plugging the A2 directly into the receiver and up to the display (via HDMI to DVI cable) = 480p
  2. Plug the A2 into the Oppo switch and the switch to the display (HDMI or HDMI to DVI cable) = 1080i
  3. Plug the A2 directly into the display (HDMI or HDMI to DVI cable) = 1080i
  4. Plug everything back together but switch to a full HDMI run = 1080i

OK, well, that’s pretty simple right? The DVI connection between the receiver and display is the problem. Since the display worked with all of the other configurations, it’s the receiver right?

Um… maybe?

Remember, I used this exact same setup (including the HDMI to DVI cable) with the Sony with no issues. None. Not so much as a hiccup. I called Toshiba and they think that 1) it’s weird that it is defaulting to 480p (this is with HD DVDs too) and 2) that it is a problem with the HDCP handshake.

Basically, the player is looking for information from your display as to what resolution to pass. It gets this information through this HDCP protocol. Somewhere along the way there is a problem and it is being told that the display is 480p native. Since this has never happened before, I have no idea of where the problem is occurring.

And here comes the rant…

HDMI is the ONLY thing I’ve ever come across where you can literally throw all your “troubleshooting” books out the window. Just toss them away. Say you have a CD player, a DVD player, a receiver, a display, and a set of speakers (pretty average setup). You connect everything together and you get picture but no sound from your DVD player. You DO get sound from your CD player though. So you switch the cables and voilà! You’ve got sound from the DVD player! Problem solved – bad cable.

But with HDMI, things aren’t so easy. Take my example, with a HDMI to DVI cable, I’m getting reduced resolution. It’s most likely a HDCP handshake issue. But where? Is it in the display (there are two different DVI inputs both on separate boards – I tested them both) or is it somehow in the receiver? Or is it some problem with how the Toshiba is receiving and interpreting the signal? I don’t know and honestly, I don’t think I ever will (I could test it with the next display I review but even then I can’t be sure). It’s ridiculous.

As we get more and more sophisticated technology, aren’t things supposed to get easier? Didn’t the “kitchen of the future” show time-saving devices allowing Mom (this was the 50’s don’t you know) to take a break every once in a while? But what do we get? More and more complicated devices that require specialists to fix and take on an almost “voodoo” like quality in our minds. How many of us have tried absolutely ridiculous things to get our computer to work (like turning on Caps lock) even though we KNOW it won’t have a bearing on the functioning of the computer? We all do it.

Now there is HDMI with its mystical HDCP crap that can do crazy things at any time. Hey, the tech guy said that turning your equipment on in a certain order (TV, receiver, player) fixes 80% of the problems he comes across. 80%!!! Are you kidding me? It wasn’t so long ago (like, um YESTERDAY) that you could just turn on your TV and DVD player however you wanted. I’m telling you, they better stop worrying about making things more complicated and start making them work better or I’ll… I’ll… probably just complain about it… which is sort of what I get paid for so… OK, just carry on.

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  1. November 16th, 2007 at 16:35 | #1

    Personally, I’d love to be in the room when Dina’s head explodes as she tries to read that title! We all know how much she like acronyms!

  2. November 16th, 2007 at 17:42 | #2

    I think it’s time someone had a heart to heart with the media companies. DRM doesn’t work and we should demand that they drop it all. Don’t want to drop DRM? Fine, leave the digital space. You can’t play in our sandbox. Transformers on VHS, I like it.

    Let the big media companies leave, I swear to you, there will be plenty of producers willing to fill the space.

    DRM is anti-consumer, plain and simple. You can bitch about internet pirates all you want, but you’re not stopping them. You’re only stopping your paying customers.

    Marshall
    ————-
    The Real HT Info Podcast

  3. jnmfox
    November 16th, 2007 at 19:27 | #3

    When I was looking to get an LCD TV I was researching info about the Westy 42×2 and found a lot of people having problems with 1080p over the HDMI and DVI inputs. IIRC a lot of them were PS3 users. Over at AVS many people were stating it was a firmware issue and you had to send your TV to Westinghouse to have it updated.

    I went ahead and ordered the Westy, I have an Oppo 981 connected to the HDMI (upconverting to 1080p), and my HD DVR connected the DVI via an HDMI/DVI converter. Every once in a while when starting a DVD my screen randomly flashes and has sparkles. I just turn off, then back on, my TV and DVD player and it goes away. The blessings of ill conceived copy protection and the magic of modern day technology…

  4. skris88
    November 16th, 2007 at 22:15 | #4

    I’m glad my plan to avoid HDMI for now is paying off. There is more marketing bullcrap in the consumer electronics space than in any other – millions of dollars are being wasted daily by unsuspecting buyers, just check your shelves for all those unused and unusable little gadgets you have. Even a MP3 FM transmitter for my SUV – $99 requiring batteries fron a leading retailer, $30 and fitting into the 12V “cig” lighter (saving heaps of wastefill space re batteries) from my local Dollar Bargains shop. And it works VERY well, thank you!

  5. skris88
    November 16th, 2007 at 22:18 | #5

    New Rant. What about headphone sockets? My old Kenwood (Prologic) reciever requires a jiggle before I get sound on my headset. Same with my HTC manufactured PDAfone. A search on the Internet reveals that the HTC problem is common across their range. Another 3c on manufacture with a slightly higher grade metal and more landfill saved! Sigh….

  6. November 17th, 2007 at 01:47 | #6

    I had HDMI syncing problems with my Panasonic AX100U projector and an Older sony DVR that I used with my local cable company. Did the same thing as Tom’s setup, there. If I turned everything on, the DVR would default to 480p. I was able to switch it to 720p, and it would resync correctly. However, the black level was incorrect. So, I’d turn of my Psyclone (Best Buy) HDMI switcher and turn it back on, then the black level would be correct as well. Of course, if I just excluded the switch box, the problem was the same, only I didn’t have a switch box to turn off to force the re-sync. I got tired of doing this after 2 months and switched back to using component video cables. Works perfect every time! Now, my Toshiba A2 doesn’t have any problems at all syncing to my projector, switchbox or not. Durning one of the firmware revisions, I did get a periodic flicker every hour or two, but that went away a few updates ago. However, my other devices, like the PS3 and my new satellite box do that annoying flicker thing, only about once ever 15 mins. I think they might be getting the boot back to component video as well. Heck, all the games and video are “allowed” to run in HD over component video, just not upscaled DVDs. Who the crap ever even thought that Uplscaled DVDs need not run over component video. You can rip the source files on your pc and decrypt them easily. But I can’t play them on my tv with a certain kind of cable, even though that cable is capable of it! Death to DRM!!

  7. November 17th, 2007 at 08:41 | #7

    I reviewed the Panasonic PT-AX200U projector. Wouldn’t sync with my cable box or DVD player without stuttering the video and/or audio. Then, 1 day before I send it back, everything works perfectly.

    HDCP sucks, but so does Silicon Image (makers of the HDMI spec) who decided that it would be cool to leave HDCP OUT of the ATC standard. That’s the very detailed standard that tells manufacturers EXACTLY how to implement HDMI.

    HDCP? Ah, let them figure it out themselves. I’m sure everyone will do it exactly the same… Idiots.

    So all these problems come down to the laziness of a company who has been soaring at Wall Street while customers experience various and asundry problems using their technology. They have since added HDCP to the spec – literally in the past few months. Better late than never? Still ticks me off since early adopters are the ones who get hosed.

  8. November 17th, 2007 at 17:10 | #8

    Anyone play with the Panasonic AE2000u projector, you know, the one that does full 1080/24p and supports deep color? I’d really like to know if the HDMI input is less picky on that model. Of course, as a gamer, I’d like to see if it’s fast enough for me, as well? Anyone??

  9. ky22
    November 18th, 2007 at 11:11 | #9

    Okay, i am here to destroy Westinghouse especially the lvm-42w2. You think Vista and Leopard is bad meet Westinghouse. I was a guy that bought the Sharp LCD from your last podcast because 2 lvm-42w2 refuse to work. 1st one had a green stuck pixel on the screen and wouldn’t turn back on after a while. I had to manually unplug and plug back the TV from the wall outlet (FW 1.16) and the second one has a giant gray banding in the middle of the screen and DVI one wouldn’t sink properly with my HTPC so it would only be active once it reaches the windows logon screen. DVI 2 works though for some darn reason (FW 1.0)
    So it must be the Westinghouse (this is me ranting because I hate them with a vengeance!!)
    PS. HD DVD and BD has always been pwned(owned) by AnyDVD HD so HDCP has always been useless and annoying.

  10. November 18th, 2007 at 22:00 | #10

    “Personally, I’d love to be in the room when Dina’s head explodes as she tries to read that title! We all know how much she like acronyms!

    Dude, you lost me at “HD-“

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