ARC Contradictions from HDMI.org itself - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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First, they say all HDMI cables have ARC:

"All HDMI cables will support Audio Return Channel functionality when connected to Audio Return Channel-enabled devices. You can use your existing HDMI cables or choose a different cable type. (more)"

Then, they say ARC is new for HDMI 1.4:

"Audio Return Channel

The new specification adds an audio channel that will reduce the number of cables required to deliver audio upstream from a TV to an A/V receiver for processing and playback. In cases where a TV features an internal content source, such as a built-in tuner or DVD player, the Audio Return Channel allows the TV to send audio data upstream to the A/V receiver via the HDMI cable, eliminating the need for an extra cable."
________________________________

Talk about confusion. HDMI w/ARC, w/o ARC, w/LAN, w/o LAN, it sounds like Microsoft and the 7 Versions of Windows 7. They all look the same but are completely different. Supposedly there will be 5 official labels to tell them apart. Then of course, what are "A", "C", "D", & "E" connector types listed in their compliant list???

Great job. Can't wait for 4k confusion to hit.

Its already impossible to intelligently pick out a HDMI cable since there are no standard specs and everyone is pumping their product with anything from completely false claims to accurate ones - and 90% of the time no mention to the spec the cable meets such as 1.1 or 1.4.

Unfortunately, I need to buy a HDMI cable - I think I'll slit my wrists...

Regards,
Tom
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post #2 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 01:27 PM
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All you need is a cable listed as "High Speed".

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post #3 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6volt View Post

First, they say all HDMI cables have ARC:



Then, they say ARC is new for HDMI 1.4:


No contradiction. HDMI 1.4 is the spec for the device manufacturer, not the cable maker. And when you're shopping for the hardware you're instructed to ignore any numbers and choose those that advertise the individual features you want.
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post #4 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, that sounds good, but here is a name brand expensive HDMI cable that does not have ARC: Acoustic Research PRO3 Series PR385 HDMI Cable (6 feet) Not to mention that it does not also have ethernet either.

My guess is that cable manufacturers only connected HDMI pins that were actually being used as per the various manufacturer's specs.

I was in Big Lots and they had cables from $8 to $17 and mentioned nothing about ARC or LAN. Yes, they stated "1080i", "1080p", and something like "1450p" to indicate their frequency capability. There is absolutely no way to determine if those cables have ARC. They probably don't have LAN too. Or, the Chinese vendor may have loaded them up with everything! Who knows???
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post #5 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 02:31 PM
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ARC is a new hardware feature that doesn't require anything special in terms of your HDMI cable.

HDMI cables should be labelled High Speed, High Speed with Ethernet (useless feature), Standard or Standard with Ethernet (did I say that 'with Ethernet' is a useless feature already!).

Pretty simple really - just avoid the myriad of advertising nonsense that exists in HDMI cable marketing.

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post #6 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post

No contradiction. HDMI 1.4 is the spec for the device manufacturer, not the cable maker.

Not true, it has the specifications for the cable as well.
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post #7 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 02:49 PM
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Just to expand a bit on what Joe and others said...

ARC is new, optional feature with HDMI 1.4. It doesn't require a change to the cable.

The HDMI folks recognized the confusion among consumers brought about by manufacturers' marketing methods. They implemented a requirement that cable manufacturers only use the terms Standard, Standard with Ethernet, High Speed, High Speed with Ethernet (and one other for automotive use). They are prohibited using HDMI specification numbers, GHz ratings, etc. Unfortunately, some manufacturers and resellers continued to use misleading claims.

FWIW there have only been two significant changes in HDMI cables, other than new connectors and an automotive cable, since day one: high speed cables and cables with ethernet capability. The first simply required tighter control over tolerances that affect performance, the latter changes to the configuration and use of three existing connnections.

ARC is supported by all HDMI cables that meet any HDMI specification, even HDMI 1.0.

Standard cables support up to 1080i and 720p. High speed cables support any combination of resolution, frame rate, color depth, 2D/3D allowed under the HDMI specification, including 4K.
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post #8 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 02:50 PM
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Certified High Speed HDMI cables will cover the 1.4 device spec. They're just with or without ethernet. And, as has been pointed out SO many times before, you don't need to spend a lot of money on cables that will meet your needs.
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post #9 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm View Post

Not true, it has the specifications for the cable as well.

I meant in the context of the quote from the ARC page.
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post #10 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
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I heard what everyone is saying that ARC should be supported in all cables, however, I already provided one particular cable that does not have ARC.

There are many more HDMI cables that do not support ARC as per User Reviews of these various cables. I know this because I was looking at reasonably priced cables and discovered this.

I would like to point out that it ARC was a feature of 1.4, why would there be ARC in cables manufactured before 1.4 was adopted? (I don't know HDMI pinouts nor how many pins are provided for audio and how many for ARC. I would have thought that either the cable passes audio or it didn't. But there are cables that don't have ARC assuming that they actually have audio.)

Its actually sad that the chaos that exists in the market place with TV features is now part of the digital interconnect. The FCC never intended this.

found this:

From Sound+Vision12/2011, p23.: "...Kordz's David Meyer added awarning: "Since HDMI launched a new labeling buidelines in 2009, the message has been that you need a Standard HDMI cable for 720p/1080i, and a High Speed cable for 1080p. Some segments of the market have taken this to mean that High Speed equals 1080;. [High Speed HDMI cables should support up to 4K-rez video, which is included in the HDMI 1.4 specification.] As such, we've observed many HDMI cables being promoted and labeled in the marketplace as High Speed, but actually only operating to 1080p/60 - around 4.45 Gbps or so.
"Bottom line," concluded Meyer, "for 4K support, use an HDMI cable which is genuine High Speed and certified to operate to 3.4 Gbps/channel, being 10.2 Gbps total. Since many cables are mislabeled for marketing purposes, how can you tell?"

Gee, so a company with a quality product, is prohibited from quoting a cable spec that would show the cable to be actually conforming to the "high speed" requirement???

Sounds like the HDMI.org is supporting the chaos.

I would guess that 50-75% of all "High Speed" labeled cables will not handle 4K.

NOTE: OF course 3D-4K frame rates will exceed 1.4 so get ready for yet another tier cable. Ultra High Speed anyone?
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post #11 of 23 Old 12-19-2011, 10:57 PM
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Well, obviously no use trying to explain anything to you. Enjoy your rant.
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post #12 of 23 Old 12-20-2011, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Quoting HDMI specs doesn't help the person who is actually trying to buy a cable - it only confuses matters when the market is flooded with cables that simply do not work properly.

You do realize that this kind of chaotic market environment is just what is needed to scare people into buying $80 HDMI cables?

If you really support the concept that a good cable can be purchased at a relatively low cost, you should be more helpful.
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post #13 of 23 Old 12-20-2011, 01:42 PM
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What's the basis for your belief that certain cables can't do ARC? Did these users who gave reviews swap out their cheap cable for a more expensive one in the same setup and it suddenly worked?
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post #14 of 23 Old 12-20-2011, 07:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6volt View Post

Quoting HDMI specs doesn't help the person who is actually trying to buy a cable - it only confuses matters when the market is flooded with cables that simply do not work properly.

You do realize that this kind of chaotic market environment is just what is needed to scare people into buying $80 HDMI cables?

If you really support the concept that a good cable can be purchased at a relatively low cost, you should be more helpful.

First, let me make sure that you know that no one here is from the HDMI Org. When I first visited this forum, I was hoping that I could actually "talk" to the people who made some of these non-user-friendly specifications. But, alas, no. I doubt the HDMI Org even reads this forum anymore - particularly since they are creating the HDMI Forum to create new specs, which you too can join if you can afford the yearly "donation" (I believe I read $30K).

Instead you're stuck with us who use HDMI cables and who try to interpret the specifications as best we can. I also point out situations where component video is actually still easier to use. But now I'm off subject.

As far as ARC and high speed are concerned, I think you're missing the point of what you posted. When Sound + Vision (or Stereo Review for the old-timers) points out you should be careful about high speed cables it isn't because there is something wrong with the spec, it's because counterfeit cables are claiming high speed certification when they aren't certified. High speed covers up to 10.2 gbps. That's plenty high enough for anything out there and covers quite a bit of extra margin as well.

What they were saying was to purchase from a known reputable source and make sure that anyone who claims high speed actually has a certificate.

As far as ARC is concerned, the cable doesn't "know" about ARC (it's just a dumb cable - no electronics). What the cable has are 19 pins. This has been true since the first Type A connector was used on an HDMI cable. It is still true today - same number of pins and same connector as day one. Now there are the equivalent of mini-HDMI (type C) and micro-HDMI equivalent (type D), but your question concerned the standard HDMI connector.

So, the pinouts are the same and the number of conductors in the cable are the same. So that is why even an older cable should work with ARC. The connections were already there, but were repurposed for ARC. No real magic, just that there were available connections.

So there really are only two types of HDMI cables, standard and high speed. There is the option to have Ethernet capability in the cable (not really useful right now since no one seems to support that capability). ARC is being used and really any HDMI cable should work.

Some standard speed cables will even work with 1080p/60 (remember both cable types have the same pin-outs). All high speed cables will work with 1080p/60, 3D, 4K. When the next new capability is added to HDMI then it probably will still fit within the high speed bandwidth but we won't know until there is a new capability. If not the type B connector is designed for even higher bandwidth however I don't know of any component that currently supports type B connectors.

I wouldn't worry about 4K-3D too much. No one has a medium yet to transmit 4K-2D. There is no shiny disc spec and no internet spec. The only ones who send 4K use satellites and store the encrypted results on hard drives. Translating that into something that can be purchased in stores is going to take many years, if it ever happens. 4K-3D will be well beyond that, if there is a demand.

Finally, the FCC is not involved in HDMI. There is no over-the-air (or cable) transmissions with HDMI, so it is outside of their jurisdiction, by law. The FTC might be involved if someone could show a reason that HDMI was a monopoly but so far that hasn't happened. If wireless HDMI were made into a standard, then the FCC would become involved.

Hope that information helps your understanding of how the HDMI cables work and who controls what part of the standard.
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post #15 of 23 Old 12-20-2011, 09:12 PM
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@alk3997

I always start to smile when I see one of your long posts because I know it's going to be clear, concise, and to the point. If not without a few subtleties Nice explanation.
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post #16 of 23 Old 12-21-2011, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Alk for the big picture.

I may not have been clear but I realize the chaos is from the bogus cables being made by generic manufacturers.

I bought some IEEE-1394 cables from a fellow and 75% of them simply did not work. I did pin by pin continuity checks and they were good - it was the actual molded part and the fingers that did not articulate properly that cause the problem. In one cable, even when I corrected the finger problem, although continuity was correct, it still never worked.

I actually wrote a detailed account of my testing of 3 different FW cables on this forum. I even found FW cables which crossed the pin outs - like you were making a null modem cable. So even the pin outs varied from this set of 3 different cables I was investigating.

So buying FW cables is a real problem if you are trying to find a good generic cable.

Well.

Compared to FW, HDMI is the Tower of Bable.

So the Chaos Factor is about 10x that of FW.

And that is the problem. I want to buy some "cheap" cables that "work." And it looks like you simply cannot go by what they claim for the cables. Only by word of mount can you probably get a good cheap cable that actually works.

I was asked for how I determined ARC did not work and here is a list of reviews on Amazon for the Acoustic Research cable I specifically mentioned earlier in this posting. I don't know how long this link will stay up, but here it is:

http://www.amazon.com/Acoustic-Resea...owViewpoints=1

I found it quite easy to find HDMI cables were people claimed the ARC did not work.

Frankly, I would think that the audio pins on the HDMI cable are the same whether the appliance has ARC or not. In which case, claims of no ARC in the cable makes no sense. Now if someone said the audio did not work altogether on the HDMI cable - that would make sense because it would indicate problems with the audio pins.

But then, stuff making no sense is what leads to chaos.

I was at Big Lots and they had cables rated at 1080i, 1080p, and 1440p. Yep, 3 bandwidth tiers where there should be only 2. You tell me what that means. So do you think any of these cables would work with 4k? or some big frame rates? Should I buy the "High Speed" cable or the "1440p" cable if I want a genuine High Speed cable?

Frankly, I think manufacturers should be allowed, in fact should be required what bit rate the cables are "certified" to. At least you would have a specific number by which to judge the cable.

I don't like all the different varieties of the HDMI cable. What they should do is when the appliance has a new feature or speed requirement, ALL HDMI cables manufactured at that point should be changed - like 16x DVD's. They quit making 1x, 2x, 4x. Then you could say, I need a 1.2 cable or a 1.4 cable or a 1.8b cable. Like wireless: b, g, n, ...

But no, they want five different concurrent cables out there. There should be only one, the High Speed w/Ethernet. Period. End of discussion. The cable would work with all older appliances and there would be no cable confusion. The cable manufacturers might even like it. But then chaos and fear is what drives $80 cable sales.

I really appreciate what everyone has told me. Yes, I am grumpy about all this having seen uncompressed HD decades ago over the dual satellite prototype rig and also being an owner of Betamax. Then S-VHS ONLY - never owned a VHS machine. And then DVD w/HDD. and of course D-VHS. Every single one of those technologies meeting a bad end. (except for S-VHS maybe.) I also had maybe 4 7' Advent Video Beam projectors concurrently at one time too and many front projectors since. So you can see where I have been.

Thanks
Tom
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post #17 of 23 Old 12-21-2011, 02:46 PM
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I don't know. I bought MediaBridge High Speed HDMI cables with ethernet (just because) and they came with a certificate. They work like a charm even tho I don't have any ARC capabilities and ethernet is fun to say even tho it is meaningless. Besides, I thought there were really only two HDMI cables, Standard and High Speed (kinda like wifi b/n/g). Monoprice work, MediaBridge work, etc so I just don't understand the problem.
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post #18 of 23 Old 12-21-2011, 02:52 PM
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I'd put my money on the reviewers saying that ARC isn't supported in their cable don't know how to RTFM for their TV and AVR.

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post #19 of 23 Old 12-21-2011, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6volt View Post

Yes, I am grumpy about all this having seen uncompressed HD decades ago over the dual satellite prototype rig...

Gee, I worked for a company over 20 years ago that had a NEC analog HD monitor in the lobby that beats anything we have today. It ran a variety of aquarium scene loops. It was so realistic that people would tap the screen to try to get the attention of the fish. But, that doesn't make me grumpy about the current state of the art.

Just remember that HDMI is something designed by committee. And I am sure you know what a horse designed by committee looks like.
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post #20 of 23 Old 12-21-2011, 03:53 PM
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"And that is the problem. I want to buy some "cheap" cables that "work." And it looks like you simply cannot go by what they claim for the cables. Only by word of mount can you probably get a good cheap cable that actually works."

But that has always been a problem for everything in the world... not just HDMI. The next saying is "you get what you pay for!" The main problem is that lots of people just think "a wire is a wire" and thus "anything will do", and it may or may not "bite" them. The other extreme is that "I know nothing but these guys are selling $xxx cables and they make the world look / sound great, I've got to have them otherwise my system won't work or will look awful".
Even if HDMI standards had only one spec / one cable, there would still be sellers selling "snake oil cables" and / or "performance challenged cables" and there would buyers for both.
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post #21 of 23 Old 12-21-2011, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess the solution is to buy from MonoPrice or MediaBridge. I'll probably choose MP because I have heard of people recommend them for a while now.

I think Amazon is not the place to buy HDMI. The "Acoustic Research" that I first found were "$109" cables discounted to $9.95. I tried to find that ad on Amazon but it is gone. But there are a lot of AR cables for discount. My guess is that their might be some counterfeit ones out there.

I think the key is to buy from a company that has a presence - not just an unknown someone selling on eBay or Amazon.
______________

Yes, that old full spec analog BW HD was definitely deer in the headlights technology. It stopped me dead in my tracks and froze me for at least 10 minutes once my eyes connected with it. Of course, I foolishly thought that was what I was going to have in my home when HD became available. Silly me.

Thanks all,
Tom
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post #22 of 23 Old 12-21-2011, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6volt View Post

I think the key is to buy from a company that has a presence - not just an unknown someone selling on eBay or Amazon.

You got it! Buy a certified High Speed HDMI cable of a reputable brand from a reputable dealer. If in doubt, ask for a copy of the ATC certifcate. They look like this. Category 2 means high speed. The length is the maximum length it is certified to.

Reputable dealers include AV Science (the sponsor of this site), monoprice, and Blue Jeans Cable, among others. Amazon is a reputable dealer, but you aren't necessarily buying from Amazon on Amazon. eBay is full of questionable merchandise and counterfeits. IMHO it is more likely than not that you will get a counterfeit if you buy a name brand HDMI cable there.
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post #23 of 23 Old 12-21-2011, 09:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6volt View Post

I was asked for how I determined ARC did not work and here is a list of reviews on Amazon for the Acoustic Research cable I specifically mentioned earlier in this posting. I don't know how long this link will stay up, but here it is:

http://www.amazon.com/Acoustic-Resea...owViewpoints=1

I found it quite easy to find HDMI cables were people claimed the ARC did not work.

Not sure which specific review you're pointing to, but the top one includes a quote from Audioquest's customer service.

Quote:


If anyone has any questions regarding my statements, I did contact Acoustic Research directly to ensure I was providing the correct information. Here is the response they sent to me:

Response (Ed) - 04/19/2011 09:41 AM
Dear Robbit,

The older model without the 4 prefix in the number is NOT 1.4 compliant but still will pass 3D since it was high speed 10.2 certified. We test it up to 17.8. All previous HDMI cables will pass audio return channel.

Unfortunately, the reviewer somehow misinterprets this to mean that the cable he bought doesn't support it. "Mark" also pointed this out to him in the comments page for that review.

The one-star review below that one is just reading chipset specs and thinking they differentiate cables.
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