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Flags are bits in the MPEG transport streams that tell HDCP-equipped set top boxes and displays when to restrict or down res an HDTV signal; you will see most every new set top box and HD-capable display of any type is being released with full HDCP capabilities. Many of us have decided not to worry about it, and thought that the days when these flags would be turned on was quite a way off.




Now we have learned that these flags may be turned on sooner than expected; if you look at the HDTV Recorder’s Forum, you will see that some flags have already been turned on “by accidentâ€.




There is not too much argument on whether the flags are eventually going to be turned on or not, but whether or not they will start “down-rezzing†the component outputs for content that does have the flags turned on- we really do not have a definitive call on this yet




A screenwriter friend of a Forum Member says there is no way recent movies will be allowed to be shown in HD via Pay Per View services without “down-rezzing†component outputs. He says the copies made from component outputs are way better than DVD quality, and that just won’t be allowed.




Even today, using Windows Media Encoder, you can take movies recorded via ASTC tuner cards in a PC or in a DVHS deck from Dish or DirecTV (using the 169time box) and create compressed files using the latest Windows Media Series 9 encoders that will fit on a single double sided DVD-R disk that are virtually indistinguishable in picture quality from the original and that will play on any PC with a 2 GHz. processor or better. Do a search on the HDTV Recorders Forum to see what others have been doing in this area; it is really quite remarkable and this is exactly what scares the heck out of the studio types.




This is why some on the forum have been emphasizing that if you buy a new set top box or HDTV capable display that you make sure it is fitted with full HDCP capabilities, or an upgrade path




As Moderators, we feel obligated to bring this information to the Forum; please don’t criticize us for being alarmists or flame us; we are passing on what we have heard and believe could be credible information.





Mark Rubin/Gary Goodrum
 

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Hi Guys! So I guess what your saying is you have to be crazy investing thousands of dollars on a plasmas without DVI-HDCP? I knew nothing about DVI-HDCP until I found this great forum. I was about to purchase the $6000 Panasonic TH-42PHD5UY until I found out its not DVI-HDCP equipped. I read on this this forum that Panasonic will have DVI-HDCP in the 2003 model year. I would rather wait for HDCP then have an obsolete $6000 plasma today!


Thanks for a great forum!

Tony
 

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Hi Guys:


Great post. I'd like to see this as a "sticky" at the top of the page, maybe with a more attention getting subject.
 

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I'd like to echo both Jim and Tony's comments. I, too, was just about to whip out the credit card for a 42" Panny until I became a bit more familiar with the whole DVI/HDCP issue. Based on that, as well as the relative dearth of HD content where I live (3 freaking channels and 20 total shows!), I definitely think that I, a potential buyer who can't justify obsoleting a $4000 display every 18-24 months, am better off waiting till next Fall to pull the trigger on a new flat-panel display.

- Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by alvorne
Do you think the pioneer 503 cmx video card 5002 can be upgraded to include dvi-hdcp?


Al Vorne


the Pioneer 503 has an upgrade path: replace the 5002 card with an HDCP card- Key Digital and Aurora have announced such cards but they are not out yet


Mark
 

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Quote:
Great post. I'd like to see this as a "sticky" at the top of the page, maybe with a more attention getting subject.
I agree with Jim. There are a lot of people here that are green (like I was) to this whole HDCP thing, and we're talking about a pretty big investment on a plasma that may or not be obsolete depending the brand! Like you said "As Moderators, we feel obligated to bring this information to the Forum."


Tony
 

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Interesting article. "5C" is roughly eqivalent to HDCP, but for 1394/Firewire interfaces. It is an encryption layer. The "copy flags" can have states of "always copy", "copy once" and "copy never". It sounds like the "copy never" flags got set by Cablevision.


Sony does have a new cable HD STB that does have a Firewire output so that may be what is refered to in the article.


-- Gary
 

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Ckarras,

On the back of my Cablevision Sony Digital STP is a firewire port labeled as something like "future use". I always figured it would work, its nice to know that it does if I ever get a display.
 

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I bought a Sony 32" plasma two months ago without DVI/HDCP. If it had been offered as an option I would have been willing to pay about 5% more. Here's my reasoning:


My first HDTV (an RCA 36" MM36100) has lost about 75% of its purchase price in the 30 months I have owned it. I expect a similar loss with my plasma if I own it that long. Therefore at least 75% of my concern is involved with what happens in the next 30 months.


The difference between a DVD and D-Theatre may be negligible to me. With two sets of similar size(32.8 vs 32) and pixels(about 930x930 vs 1024x852) I can watch entire movies side by side stopping them to analyze specific scenes and pixels. I have just watched an initial two movies in this manner on DVD and D-Theatre. I am finding differences like on a wall of chinese characters two of them in the left hand corner are better defined, tweed in a jacket is clearer, a few more imperfections on faces show up (this is an advantage?). If I finally decide the differences are of this nature, then why do I care what happens to copy protection in the next 30 months?


Too few set top boxes with DVI/HDCP have been deployed to offer a DVI/HDCP product. Cable is currently deploying analog boxes which need to be amortized over at least 30-40 months. Why hasn't Warner Brothers and HBO told their sister company Time Warner Cable that it is essential to only deploy boxes with DVI/HDCP immediately? Even if TWC starts deploying boxes with DVI/HDCP it will still take a year or two after that before enough customers have boxes to make it worth while to offer a product.


Plasma owners face the real risk that while 50% of the value of their set is being lost, no more pay per view movies will be offered and Starz only movies will not be offered. Having DVI/HDCP doesn't reduce that risk.


In the longer term plasma owners face the risk that if few can see the difference between DVD and D-Theatre or are willing to pay for the difference, it may make economic sense to offer more channels at only slightly better than DVD resolution. Having DVI/HDCP does nothing for that risk.
 

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Simply put, virtually every new HD-capable STB and display/TV coming out from this point forward will have DVI-HDTV/HDCP as the primary HD interface. As soon as enough are in use, probably sometime in the next six months, the flags will go on and then we will finally see some real HD content being shown via PPV, etc.


As for my own comparisons, I see a very dramatic difference between watching a DVD and watching "real" HD, like some of the eye-popping stuff shown on HDNet, and if you haven't seen a football game in HD, you just haven't lived!


-- Gary
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by GGoodrum
Simply put, virtually every new HD-capable STB and display/TV coming out from this point forward will have DVI-HDTV/HDCP as the primary HD interface.
DirecTV: Yes

Dish: No. No replacement for the 6000 announced. Possibly a PVR in the next six months.

Cable: No. There is no indication that any cable operator is planning to deploy any in the next six months at least. Why would cable be buying component only modems if they planned to throw them away in the next six months? Only in Phoenix have they been trying to sell set top boxes rather than lease them. Do you really think they plan to sell them $500 component only modems now and then strand them six months later?

Quote:
As soon as enough are in use, probably sometime in the next six months, the flags will go on and then we will finally see some real HD content being shown via PPV, etc.
DirecTV will provide a test of this. In 36 months they have increased their bandwidth from 2 channels to three channels. Hardly an indication that they plan to add even five PPV channels. I simply don't think the economics for HDTV PPV are there now for the studios. How is selling HDTV PPV more profitable than selling DVDs or D-Theatre. I have purchased 23 HDTV PPV movies. I have always been struck with how little discussion there ever has been about HDTV PPV movies. Or how little complaint there was that Starz movies are not being shown at all. I think most people have been happy watching DVDs.


What are the etc. channels that need to be copy protected?

Quote:
As for my own comparisons, I see a very dramatic difference between watching a DVD and watching "real" HD, like some of the eye-popping stuff shown on HDNet, and if you haven't seen a football game in HD, you just haven't lived!
I see eye-popping stuff on HD Net and PBS which has put some movie scenery to shame. Which of that is going to be immediately copy protected by DVI/HDCP?


I also see a dramatic difference between 480 Fox and 1080i CBS or HD Net sports. Again I see no indication that any sports are going to be downrezzed for non DVI/HDCP owners in the near future.
 

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Alan --


DirecTV may be first but Dish and cable will not be far behind, now that the HDMI spec has been released ( http://www.hdmi.org/press/release_120902.asp ). (Note - HDMI is DVI/HDCP with audio integrated into a single cable.)


Dish has two new STB/PVR combos, the PVR 921 and the JVC TU-PVR9000 coming ( http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=192887 ) and both include DVI with HDCP interfaces. These may very well be available within six months.


As for cable, new combo HD/PVR offerings from Motorola and Scientific Atlanta (see http://www.scientificatlanta.com/news/02Dec03-1.htm ) will also be HDCP-compatible. These too may be available for various cable systems within a half-year.


I agree that copy protection may not be an issue (for now...) for some sports and the likes of HDNet/PBS, and I also agree that movie transfers aren't always as "eye-popping". However, I think that the reason there are so few HD channels available on DirecTV has nothing to do with bandwidth allocation. I believe it has everything to do with the content "owners" and their paranoia about illegal Internet sharing. I'm convinced we won't see a significant increase in the number of "premium" HD content until there are more HDCP-capable STBs and display/TVs in use than non-compatible units. This will happen fairly soon, I think, hence my six month prediction.


I guess we can agree to disagree on how soon this will all start happening, and how much "downrezzing" will go on. The whole purpose of this thread is simply to provide some "buyer beware" info for those considering new purchases today. A year from now this won;t be a problem as you will hard pressed to find an HD display and/or STB available then without HDCP compatibility.


-- Gary
 

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95% of current HD viewers don't have HDCP capable sets in my estimation.


If the 'powers that be' attempt to close the analog hole and remove the ability of those viewers to enjoy some HD content, then the class action lawyers will be in there filing suits left and right. I imagine the various state attorney generals may also get involved.


Burning almost all of your early adopters isn't the brightest business strategy, especially when those early adopters have spend $$$ on HD technology without being told that some HD content may be denied them in the near future. Obviously this is being forced on vendors by the MPAA etc, but I'm sure whoever has deep pockets will get sued in the process.


As I posted in an earlier thread in the plasma forum, I also doubt that HDCP will stand up to a sustained technical assault. Although devices to remove HDCP on a DVI stream may be technically illegal in the US under the DMCA, there is no doubt in my mind that such devices will appear on the global market. A professional pirate only needs one such device to create perfect HD copies of PPV content, so HDCP achieves nothing except inconveniencing the consumer IMHO.
 

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There will always be OTA HD content that is not encrypted/downrezzed. I think the issue will be with PPV content like recent movies, premium sporting events, etc.


As for "cracking" the HDCP code, I really don't have a comment, except to say that as someone who is familiar with encryption systems on defense equipment, I can tell you it'll be awhile before this happens. The difference between the relatively simple DeCSS algorithm and HDCP is significant.


Even if this does happen, all it will do is make the studios even more nervous and cause further restrictions.


Finally, new HD-capable display/TV sales are increasing at a logarithmic rate which means it won't take all that long for there to be more HDCP-equipped sets out there than non-compatible "early adopter" units.


-- Gary
 

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Do we yet know what precisely downrezzing will mean in terms of diminished picture quality for those who own monitors without DVI HDCP? Will 1080i be reduced to 720p or 480i or something even less robust? Or will there be no picture at all? Will those who own ED plasmas (enhanced definition monitors such as the popular Panny plasmas) rather than true HD plasma monitors experience less PQ degredation?
 
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