HD-A2 HDMI/DVI HDCP woes
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:
- Try plugging the A2 directly into the receiver and up to the display (via HDMI to DVI cable) = 480p
- Plug the A2 into the Oppo switch and the switch to the display (HDMI or HDMI to DVI cable) = 1080i
- Plug the A2 directly into the display (HDMI or HDMI to DVI cable) = 1080i
- 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?
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 voilÃ ! 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.