Why we should embrace HDMI

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs Forum' started by Nick Peacock, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. Nick Peacock

    Nick Peacock
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    If you didn't read this forum you might be forgiven for thinking that digital interfaces were the best thing since sliced bread for home cinema, but then you can't take the opinions of all dealers and journalists at face value. So we need the well-informed and well-meaning opinions of all the contributors to avoid making expensive mistakes. Even when, through blissful ignorance, we don't realise we've made them. Therefore I won't see you in a queue for a Pioneer 868i. There are many better ways to watch DVDs with analogue interfaces, as if the interface was more important than the source in the first place.

    So does that mean that we should all turn our back on HDMI? No we shouldn't. It's hard to believe that companies beginning with a "P" that have enough talent and resource to produce sources and displays could overlook some of the simple things that are important to us. But successful companies have people at the top who ensure that any mistakes do get corrected. It's like evolution. The unstopable commitment is there, and we know what the way forwards will be.

    So if someone advises you with the best of intentions that you will get a poorer picture if you buy a domestic plasma with a digital interface instead of a commercial plasma running off VGA, does that tell you all you need to know to make an purchase decision? Remembering that home cinema is only going to become better integrated, you may end up with an expensive white elephant that few people will want in a few years' time, and which may have little home cinema hardware support as soon as the big boys sort themselves out. Maybe then we can avoid wasting our money on scalers in every stop of the chain.

    I was always an audiophile, and when CD was launched, I'm embarassed to admit that I thought nothing could replace LPs. I won't make that mistake again. Are you with us or against us?
     
  2. Joe Fernand

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    Nick

    So everyone should push the Plasma Display manufacturers to automatically add an HDCP enabled HDMI or DVI input to all new Display units - automatically adding an additional 14% EC tariff to the cost of every unit; or stick with a non HDCP DVI input and look at licensing third party external scalers or plug in video cards that are HDCP and leave it to individual buyers to decide if they require this additional feature or not.

    The new EC tariff is making the decision for the manufacturers not some analogue conspiracy.

    HDMI in consumer land is NOT about video quality its about copy protection encoding and anti piracy; there will be sub £100 DVD players with HDMI soon enough - are we to assume they will be the pinnacle of video processing just because they have HDMI?

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  3. MAW

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    Sorry Nick, I don't understand which company you are referring to. Both the 'p' initial co's I sell have HDCP interfaces, one is an add on, one comes with it if you buy the domestic product, but not the commercial, where of course there is no use for it. Most corporates just connect anything with video up with composite, they have not the slightest interest in a quality signal if it costs money. So what exactly is the point you are making? Is it their fault, mine for not recommending it to everyone? I'm with Joe here, you can already buy a DVI DVD player for just over £100, and it performs like any other DVD player for just over £100, not at all bad on a reasonable sized screen, but is blown out of the water by any serious analogue output player. Until we see the big boys getting serious about digital video connections, and Hollywood supplying us with HD material to make the most of it, and we have HD displays to display it on, I'm happy with analogue, or in my case a hybrid, a scaler with digital connection to an HD display, but all else analogue. As to the plasma in question, I honestly believe it to be inferior in most respects to it's commercial brother, and this will not change till they get that HDMI sorted out.
     
  4. yan

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    MAW, Joe are you saying that it is not worth considering HDMI at this stage even if you are about to upgrade? You are telling me that its not about picture quality so again are you telling me there is not improvement in pq however slight it may be.

    I agree that you can get good non-HDMI systems that can produce better pq than HDMI, but it is obvious that a £100 player with HDMI is not going to compete with a £1000 player without HDMI. However what if you compare like for like, ie a £100 player with HDMI and a £100 non-HDMI player, are you still saying the HDMI player will not be any better in terms of pq, all other components being equal.

    If and when the high end players adopt HDMI like the Meridian and Denon are you suggesting that the analogue system will still produce better pq.

    Lastly you say "sort out HDMI" what exactly is wrong with it currently. I though HDMI provides subtle improvements in Pq much like prog scan enabled players. Thanks
     
  5. Robert

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    I look upon HDCP as something with the inevitability of death and taxes. Its coming because the content owners want it - and they have the power. So we have to expect it and plan for it.

    I've seen some fantastic analogue setups at Event II and at the Bristol/Manchester shows and I'd be very happy with that level of analogue performance. But some video sources could become HDCP encrypted within the lifetime of a display device I buy today, so I need a display that supports it.

    At the moment I am reading reports of such-and-such a plasma not supporting DVI/HDCP at certain resolutions and frequencies, or the Silicon Image HDMI chipset having problems mapping colour spaces, and I despair. Digital doesn't always mean better if the digital is not implemented properly, or doesn't even work at all.

    I'm currently looking at plasmas but am constantly worried that I could buy a hi res plasma today and not be able to use it to watch HD-DVD or even HDTV in 2-3 years because the plasma doesn't support HDCP. So for me, HDCP support is a necessary evil because the content providers will deem it so.

    Its not a case of "are you with us are against us"; its just that we're going to be stuck with it.

    (Sorry, I'm not a depressive by nature ):)

    Rob
     
  6. MAW

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    Hmmm lots of points.

    It's not possible to say like for like, all players have good and less good features.

    Price for price I'd confidently say you can do better with analogue CURRENTLY

    No, I said when the high end boys get going, we might see a real improvement in HDCP digital connections, whatever tha shape of the plug, I think HDMI might be a dead end in the plug shape sense. We still have no switching amps, nor do we have digital surround audio. But there will always be a price to pay, there is a license fee for HDCP

    Sorting out HDMI refers to switching by amps, enabling digital surround, Pioneer allowing their displays to accept native resolution via digital interface, and other nonsense in similar vein. It's not finished.

    I am a depressive by nature:D But I see real hope here, no encryption survives for long these days, and unless the 'powers' can sell a new format to the public hot on the heels of mainstream DVD acceptance, which I doubt, then they are stuck with the current format, and look how well region encoding works...
     
  7. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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    HDMI will be great. There will be companies who will impliment the hardware properly. There is no conspiracy. There are just informed individuals letting folk know what works and what doesn't. Just as there were when progressive outputting DVD players started appearing.

    Digital interfaces are the future. We just need to bring pressure to bare to get them working.

    Gordon
     
  8. yan

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    Thanks MAW, should I not bother with it then as I am considering upgrading my PDP503HDE for the 504HDE, obviously this decision is not based solely on HDMI but having looked at other plasmas and finding it difficult to choose the HDMI connection swung it for me.
     
  9. Branxx

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    As an owner of Fujtsu 50" plasma I think there is no picture quality improvement over and above what can be achieved with DVI and in most cases VGA interfaces.

    In my opinion HDMI is introduced only due to content provider copy protection desire and for marketing purposes dressed up as a 'digital improvement'.

    I for one would actively avoid/boycott any technology that is restricting a fair use or is inconveniencing the consumer because multinational corporation is imposing something they believe would enhance their profitability.

    HDMI is clearly in that territory along with SKY+, DVD-A, and SACD.

    If you are really after the great pristine picture connect your PC to VGA or DVI input and be blown away. The way to get the best from the given technology is already there, it’s just not so obvious.
     
  10. MAW

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    Do we have a concensus then? We should embrace digital connections, but not half-baked ideas with half the useful features sawn off to rush them to the marketplace, where they are mis-sold as the best thing since sliced bread?
     
  11. yan

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    I accept what you say and have been convinvced that HDMI will be better when implemented correctly but I thought HDMI was DVI with HDCP and audio thrown in. So why is DVI said to provide better pq?
     
  12. MAW

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    Cos we have yet to see a 'proper' HDMI. No other reason I can think of, except the source. A PC is usually the DVI source, and can be phenomenal. One of those £100 DVI dvd players puts you back to square 1. It's not better just because it's digital, it's better if it's properly designed, and implemented correctly with quality hardware. The word 'digital' implies an aura of hi-tech excellence, it just ain't AUTOMATICALLY so, but it could and can be
     
  13. PhillipStanton

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    Panacia? If in doubt, read the specification.

    HDMI specifies how uncompressed audio and visual data are transmitted securely and robustly between source and sink bits of equipment.
    In doing so it defines:
    • physical layer - connectors, cables, electrical specifications, signalling and encoding, data packet types and structures
    • video - supported formats, pixel encoding, colorimetry
    • audio - supported formats, sample rates, channel assignment, AV synchronisation
    • control and configuration - InfoFrames, device format compatibility negotiation, hot plugging, physical addressing
    • content protection
    • compatibility with DVI
    What you get video-wise
    • pixel colour space encoding as RGB 4:4:4, YC(B)C(R) 4:4:4 or YC(B)C(R) 4:2:2
    • primary video encoding at 640x480p, 720x480p, 720x576p, 1280x720p or 1920x1080i
    • a whole load of secondary video encoding formats
    • to be HDMI compliant a video source MUST support at least one of 640x480p, 720x480p or 720x576p
    • in addition, a source MAY support 1280x720p, 1920x080i, 720x480p, 720x576p
    • there are also rules about what various sinks must support if it claims to be HDTV, etc
    • To be HDMI compliant a product only has to support RGB 4:4:4 and ONE OF 640x480p, 720x480p or 720x576p
    • HDMI sources and sinks must be capable of outputting and acceptting DVI signals, with the following limitations that only video is supported and only RGB 4:4:4 colour space.
    • Video quality may be degraded in order to increase audio bandwidth. For example, 'pixel doubling' would be required to transmit 6 channels of 96k audio with 720x480p video.
    What you get audio-wise
    • 2 channel L-PCM at 32k, 44.1k or 48k using IEC 60958 formatting with a sample size of at least 16 bits
    • L-PCM or encoded audio at 32k, 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, 96k, 176.4k or 192k using IEC 60958 or 61937 formatting
    Very nice Phill, but what does this tell us?
    I always find it best to look at what the specification doesn't define. HDMI does not define anything to do with:
    • colour space management or mapping
    • scaling may still be required and may still take place at multiple points in the chained devices
    • whilst the spec deals with the maximum allowable delay that a device can introduce to AV synchronisation (plus or minus 2 milliseconds) - nothing in the spec deals with audio synchronization as such
    • interlacing

    So, of all the transformation that needs to take place between pits on disc and light on telly, HDMI only deals with shipping rows of pixels and associated sound from one place to another with some negotiation over supported formats. Using an extension of DVI as the shipping technique.

    Apart from the extra colour spaces, there is nothing in the HDMI specification video-wise in addition to DVI. Oh sorry, I forgot the copy protection.

    So the only advantage is the sound element. Which isn't currently implemented and which you'll want to ship back to the surround system anyway.

    The people on this forum are, just by reading about this stuff, either early adopters or near-early adopters. The first 5%. HDMI adopters are currently the early adopters of the early adopters.

    If HDMI takes a typical technology trajectory then it'll take 7-9 years before Joe Punter uses it and any copy protection can be enforced. By then the copy protection will be worthless anyway as someone has already probably cracked it. So talk of white elephant equipment is alarmist and mis-placed.

    So Nick, I agree with you to the extent that an all digital signal path is better, on balance that and analogue one. But its already available through a scaler and DVI solution. In my mind it'll at least help the BBC PQ.

    Apologies for the length. I encourage you all to read the specification and then note the filename - the "non confidential" version.
     
  14. yan

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    MAW can you elaborate on the Pio's not accepting native res through the digital interface or point me to a thread where I can get some more info, I have done a search but unsuccessfully. Ta
     
  15. MAW

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    No elaboration needed, that states the case in it's entirety. It accepts a maximum of 720p via HDMI, leaving the screen to scale to 768. Fair enough at 576, that's what it's doing with a component signal, but it means a scaler cannot feed it native, leaving at least a 2 stage scaling process, like Phill says. He's avoided it with the MXE version, which has DVI, but is not HDCP compliant.
     
  16. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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  17. yan

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    so the only way to have no more than 2 stages of scaling means that the screen will have to upscale (horizontally and vertically) a native dvd palyer(pio 868) signal of 720 x 480 otherwise if you go for a higher res then the player will begin to scale aswell. ie introducing more than 2 stages of scaling right?

    Yet I have read so many reviews saying how great this screen is including on this forum. I suppose if the scalers in the screen are of decent quality it wont affect the pq as much?

    So the question is why did Pioneer do this and yes I have now been totally convinced that HDMI is not quite there yet but has the potential for greatness providing such issues as above can be sorted out
     
  18. MAW

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    You are all straight there, Yan. Why? failure to think it through. Great reports? People tend to post good reports of their own kit, and also it's a plasma bought by 'non techies' often after a widescreen CRT where they had previously paid no attention to picture. IMHO it's not all that great, but what it is, is easy to get to a state where it's as good as it gets, which is good I will admit. Other plasmas might require more attention to get the best out of them, perhaps some TLC from an expert such as Gordon, and his Lumagen toys. So it's very much a 'plug and play' plasma for DVD at least. That I'm sure was Pioneer's intention.
     
  19. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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    MAW has it. HDMI will allow folk to get what looks like a better image quality compared to what they had before with little effort. It's moving the lowest common denominator upwards.

    That is not to say that ultimate image quality cannot go upwards too of course.

    G
     
  20. yan

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    Ok, but this still leaves me with the dilema of whether I should upgrade to the 504HDE. I guess what I am saying is, is this screen when used via compenent still better than one of the Panansonics. MAW you said with the right configuration this screen is good so should I go for this or should I save some cash and go for a cheaper screen without the HDMI. Must admit as I said in a previous post at one stage the HDMI was pulling me toward the 504HDE but I think now its pushing me toward Panasonic. This post has opened up my eyes to the CURRENT short commings of HDMI, but if the 504HDE is good when not using the HDMI I will still consider it, although I will be paying for something I proabaly wont use? Any advice will be greatly apprecaited.
     
  21. MAW

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    Personally I'd look at the 50MX. There will almost certainly be an aftermarket HDCP video board for it at some stage, and you have to also remember all the other HDE issues, no native res with PC or scaler, stupid remote, limited inputs, analogue TV tuner that will be useless at some stage in the next 3-6 years if the government have their way. One big thing in it's favour is the styling, it's gorgeous, but I prefer to have access to the panel properly for picture quality.
     
  22. Nick Peacock

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    So we're all agreed, they didn't get HDMI right first time?

    Do you remember whether the first CD players had "perfect sound for ever"?
    What was the coverage like on the first mobile phones?
    How portable were the first camcorders?
    What were the exhaust emissions like on the Model T Ford?
    Did Microsft produce Windows XP without bugs?

    What I wanted to remember was that no-one hits the nail on the head when a new standard is launched, but we do need to recognise what is likely to happen in the future. Try to anticipate what we will be debating in a year's time. I don't have hindsight, but I do recognise when an industry gets behind a new standard, and then is not the time to make a stand like King Kanute. HDMI is not worse because it is digital, and I know it won't stay that way. I'm quite ambitious and I'd like to get some sort of HD plasma or projector. But that's got to be a far-sighted commitment - I won't want to change again just because someone has bought out a new DVD player that I can't use.
     
  23. richard plumb

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    some of these issues must be down to panel sizes.

    Most sources (i.e. the disc itself or broadcast TV) will be in one of the sizes specified in the HDMI specs. HD-DVD will be 1280x720p, not 1366x768p. So the source will not match the majority of HD panels at all.

    Whether a PC or the panel itself is doing the scaliing, you are still performing scaling, which isn't ideal.

    Ideally, panel manufacturers should start moving their production to video resolutions - 1280x720p, 1920x1080p and 848x480p (horizontal scaling inherent due to 4:3 nature of source)

    As for commercial applications, if they only ever feed via composite or slap 640x480 powerpoints on it, they won't care if its very slightly scaled by the panel anyway.
     
  24. yan

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    So who is to blame then?

    I believe Pioneer was not a founder member of HDMI just an early adopter. So is it their fault for adopting a technology that only allows 720p or 1080i which is not compatible (without scaling)with their 504HDE. Or do we blame the founders of HDMI for not seeing that some plasmas have greater resoultions exceeding 720p and so they should have used a higher standard resolution of 768p. Or do we blame both for not communicating with each other. Seems a right mess to me!

    http://www.hdmi.org/faq/faq.asp
     
  25. Eagerbeaver

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    If I'm understanding this correctly, there is no universal optimum panel size as the resolution of DVD/HD etc are all different. You would have to choose which source you were going to use and buy a panel accordingly (if one was available).

    As I understand it,progressive is better than interlaced (but then why is 1080i supposed to be so good), refresh rate in line with the source material is important then scaling surly is the least important as long as scaling is done well.

    I've been very happy with my HCPC scaling DVD to the native resolution of the projector and obviously outputting PS with refresh rate in line with the source material.

    I welcome anyone putting me right on any of these points.
     
  26. yan

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    I agree that there is no standard panel size, so this is even more reason for the HDMI founders to have adopted the higher resolution of 768p as a maximum that way more panels would have been included within the HDMI standard.

    Eagerbeaver: if you didnt have any scaling done due to trying to fit the various resolutions etc you would probably get an even better picture. Im sure its best to try and keep a signal as pure as possible.

    With a bit more forwrad thinking HDMI could have been perfect, I suppose we have to wait for version 2 and spend more money before then.
     

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