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HDMI 1.4 Problems Are a 'Pandemic'

By Jason Knott
Some installers are ready to quit out of frustration. DPL Labs upgrades cable testing procedures to filter out problems.


Jeff Boccaccio, president of DPL Labs, had nearly 70 calls last week from installers who were frustrated with non-functioning HDMI systems.


It's a pandemic," he says. "It's getting so bad that some integrators tell me that they are just going to quit and get out of the business. It's sad for the whole industry.


HDMI problems are rare occurrences in small DIY systems where homeowners are likely plugging in short run cables from a receiver to a TV, but it's the custom installers who seem to bear the brunt of potential problems because they are doing larger, more complex installations where sometimes they break every rule in the book when designing a system, Boccaccio says.

DPL Labs Unveils Tougher Testing

Boccaccio and DPL Labs have become a de facto consulting firm for hundreds of custom installers. And to help mitigate problems in the field, DPL has recently instituted tougher testing policies for its certification in order to help alleviate these in-the-field problems.


In a nutshell, the new testing procedures cover three areas:


Video Integrity: DPL is now testing cables to meet a specific speeding rating of 3.4 Gbps, which is required for a cable to be able accommodate 1080p, Deep Color and 3D.

Click here to continue.
 

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I'd probably quit too, as I've purchased every HDMI generation and got fed up a year ago.


My solution was to stop buying the gadgets (with HDMI outputs) and build a highly integrated HTPC, with Windows Media Center (WMC) Digital Video Recorder (DVR) for Over The Air (OTA) recordings.

The ATI/AMD 5xxx/6xxx series video cards also pass the compressed Blu-ray HD audio and sent it straight to the receiver, just like a stand-alone player.


So one HDMI cable between the HTPC and a second between the receiver and the HDTV. Now there are virtually no HDMI issues.


I stream media files to any room of the house by mounting simple Windows folder shares and Gigabit Ethernet router.


Simplify and be happy!
 

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You might be missing the point here... a computer passing info via HDMI is just as likely to experience issues as any other HDMI product. And I don't know that an HTPC with all the ripping, hardware, and operating system woes would be "simplifying" for the average user. (This coming from a Custom Installer and an ex-HTPC builder/owner) Definitely NOT an appropriate solution in most cases.


HDMI can be a challenge on occasion, but I can't imagine throwing in the towel altogether as a result. In this industry, you're constantly faced with challenges and changes in technology. It's just another one of those situations... but it's good to hear that the Labs are making an effort to reduce the problems.
 

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To this day, I am still running running analog 5.1 with my Parasound Classic 7100 pre/pro to my Pioneer 05-FD Blu-ray player. Did it with HD-DVD too. If I can get hi-res audio going this route, I will ride this train as long as I can before I am forced to go HDMI hell.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoeddy1 /forum/post/19543367


To this day, I am still running running analog 5.1 with my Parasound Classic 7100 pre/pro to my Pioneer 05-FD Blu-ray player. Did it with HD-DVD too. If I can get hi-res audio going this route, I will ride this train as long as I can before I am forced to go HDMI hell.

I thought you couldn't get HD audio through analog. One of the main reasons for HDMI was for the protection of HD video and audio and it wasnt going to be passed through analog.


am I wrong?
 

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The more components the more likely there is to be issues.

For instance many cable DVRs are made with the cheapest low-quality parts possible - and are seldom upgraded. Mine had intermittent HDMI audio dropouts, which AT&T finally admitted, but only after much testing on my part.

HDMI has many optional features, which many manufactures omit to keep costs down. Its hit or miss situation.

Switching between sources causes many components to think their signal is being hacked. They have to be powered off to work again.

Forget driving multiple displays with different native resolutions, even with a true matrix switcher.

Forget switching between sources at different resolutions.


HDMI is not truly backward compatible. A $5000 projector will always have the same flawed HDMI chip it was manufactured with.


All these incompatibilities gets dumped upon the installer, who the ignorant customers now holds responsible.


Installers are collateral damage in Hollywood studios arrogant, futile fight to prevent copying. So too are paying customers. The new $50 Back to the Future Blu-ray Live "feature" caused me to to enable the Windows firewall to prevent Power Dvd 10 from accessing the Internet, so studios cannot force-feed advertising.


Managing your own HTPC does take some effort and expertise, but I'm free of any monopolies or subscriptions. A HTPC offers the best capabilities, easy upgrades and effective counter-measures from belligerent studios and their paid lobbyists.


Many hardware manufactures know the HDMI situation is hopeless and are planning to switch to an Ethernet based solution. Only HTPC owners are ready.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalumberjack /forum/post/19543595


I thought you couldn't get HD audio through analog. One of the main reasons for HDMI was for the protection of HD video and audio and it wasnt going to be passed through analog.


am I wrong?

I'm using the analog outputs on my Oppo BDP-83 for HD audio. The player decodes the Dolby Digital TrueHD or DTS Master Audio soundtracks and sends them via the analog outputs to my non-HDMI pre/pro. Works like a charm.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalumberjack /forum/post/19543595


I thought you couldn't get HD audio through analog.

Well, it has to end up as an analog signal at some point, doesn't it? With decent audio cables, the loss in quality is negligible (as long as you never convert it back to digital farther along in the signal path, anyway, in which case there would be some degradation, although it still could be considered HD). In short, you can get HD audio through analog.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalumberjack /forum/post/19543595


One of the main reasons for HDMI was for the protection of HD video and audio and it wasnt going to be passed through analog.

HDMI was designed to protect video and audio from being copied (a task at which it utterly fails, of course, since its protection can be bypassed in a number of ways).


In terms of quality (as opposed to "HDness"), audio doesn't benefit as long as the analog conversion is fed straight into the amplifiers (or the receiver with no conversion to digital along the way). In such cases, only really, really long analog audio cable runs would make a difference--probably longer than HDMI could ever handle anyway, so it's a non-issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalumberjack /forum/post/19543595


am I wrong?

You're definitely wrong that analog absolutely cannot handle HD audio or video. And regarding the basic principle that it is better to keep an already-digital signal in the digital domain, that's often true but only up to a point, especially for audio.


Video is different in that it works at much higher frequencies and therefore can degrade noticeably when converted to analog sooner than strictly necessary. And unlike the case of audio amplifiers/receivers, few displays can make direct use of analog signals anyway--most would convert them back to digital right away for processing. It would still be HD video, however, and perhaps such a trade-off in quality (if it's even noticeable) is worth avoiding the glitches and general hassle of HDMI.
 

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Humm.. did multiple installation with 35+ cables here and there and never had a problem, witch switch and receivers. etc. Bought all my stuff at monoprice tought..
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryoohki
Humm.. did multiple installation with 35+ cables here and there and never had a problem, witch switch and receivers. etc. Bought all my stuff at monoprice tought..
That is what I thought with my 75' monoprice HDMI cables, until I added a 4X4 HDMI Matrix switch. After that, nothing worked and that is with a modest 3700 sq foot home. I am sure there are folks who will need much longer runs. In these terms, HDMI is a big step back for the consumer. Now I need to run a 75' HDMI for each device, which I need multiple of as well, for each room and have multiple devices that don't work together. Also means I need to pay $5 a month extra for each DTV IDR instead of just using a few to cover the whole house.
 

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this is where more expensive HDMI cables shine. Short rungs? You won't see the difference. Long runs? You get what you pay for. I've ran 100+ft HDMI cables from a reputable company, not ONCE I experience any problem.


The same goes with switcher. You buy cheapo switcher, then it won't handshake properly. Buy brand-name switcher, never had a single problem.
 

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HDMI is simply a scourage on the AVR/IT/installer industry. It's been nothing but a nightmare from start to finish. I've spent days defeating HDMI "features" (EDID overrides, DVI Detectives, forced resolutions, specific power on sequences..).


I must admit, my current setup seems to be working pretty much without issue. But the idea of HDMI (single cable, easy connections) is beyond flawed. VGA was dramatically easier; component/composite even more so. Plug it in, and it works. HDMI is, to this day (10 years later?) still a very buggy/iffy proposition.


And HDCP? Don't even get me started! Totally pointless protection (BD cracked, and, recently, even HDCP cracked) that has only EVER been effective at annoying/driving consumers bats**t crazy..
 

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With short runs, and a simple installation - HDMI from cable box to Receiver & then HDMI to TV, and I still have problems when the broadcaster/cable company switches resolution frequently when I'm watching a problem. ESPN broadcasts in 720p, but with almost every commercial break, the cable company inserts their commercials at a different resolution - and that causes the copy protection "handshake" to have to re-negotiate everything between the box, receiver, and TV.

What a XXXXing pain in the ass.


Ben Sanford
 

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Eventually everything will be fiber and we will not have this mess. I have a system with a tv a half mile from the av switcher that does 1080p just fine.


But it is ridicilioius that with technology available we have a cable standard that y have to hop on one leg cross your fingers and pray to baby jesus that anything over 10m works.


May not matter to normal people but in the world of custom the average cable length of a hdmi in my installations 120ft.
 
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