Originally Posted by DrDeriv
Assuming my cable box doesn't output 1080p (which is only available on the TV via HDMI), do I suffer any loss of quality by switching back to component?
No, Component cables are capable of outputting 1080p (or up to 1080i with your cable box.) There shouldn't be any quality loss. HDMI should be avoided when using digital cable boxes for now as they are not needed and will only hinder your experience like you've seen (though there is the convenience of audio/video in 1 cable, but you still end up using the same # of cables if you connect to an external audio receiver.)
Other people have found if you have HDMI connected, you can turn the cable box off first, then turn off the tv and your RTV will then still be able to change channels. As you saw, there's a handshaking with the HDMI cable/source and the TV which allows HDMI devices to get great information from the television with reguards to resolutions (and other evil things like: are you turned on?)
HDMI is really only good for HiDef DVD players which cripple any other connection (component) which is an artificial DRM scheme and totally ridiculous. It's also good for PC connections to tv because of the digital signal. (but DVI does the job just fine)
While it's a blessing to have a single digital cable that contains video and audio, we're slowly seeing how much of a pain it's becoming in the marketplace.