– This changes everything! (Part III)
In part I of this series we introduced the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). Part II highlighted the Consumer Electronic
Control (CEC) specification of HDMI, and illustrated how it will benefit consumers. In this article we introduce Simplay Labs’ SimplayHD
testing program, and the importance this type of program will play into the future.
“The SimplayHD Testing Program verifies high-definition components and cables for HDMI interoperability and connectivity” explains
Joseph Lias, president of Simplay Labs. The hope of the program is that consumers will be able to purchase products that display the
SimplayHD logo, confident in the knowledge that their components and cables perform optimally and will work together.
Components and cables are tested in “real-world” usage scenarios, by hooking them up to a wide variety of devices from different
manufacturers. This type of testing is designed to ensure consumers are not faced with the types of compatibility issues that earlier
adopters of HDMI connectivity faced. A common type of issue that people would run into would revolve around adding additional components
to their system. For instance, you have a DVD player connected to your HDTV using a HDMI cable, and everything works fine. You later decide
that you would like to have better sound than the HDTV can produce, so you decide to add an AV Receiver and surround sound speakers to your
system. You connect the DVD to the AV Receiver, and the AV Receiver to your HDTV, and suddenly you get a bad picture or no picture at all.
Naturally, you will assume that the AV Receiver is the culprit, so you pack it up and head back to the store to give them “what for”. The
receiver is tested in the store and everything is fine; is it the cables then? The actual problem device may be the DVD player. If the DVD
doesn’t implement the
HDCP repeater function correctly then the signal path of DVD to AV Receiver to HDTV will not work correctly.
Implementation of the HDCP repeater function is not needed when the DVD is directly connected to the HDTV, but the HDCP repeater function is
needed when the DVD is connected to the AV Receiver, and the AV Receiver repeats the signal to the HDTV.
Now some or all of what I just explained, you probably don’t understand (or care about), but that is exactly the goal of HDMI and the
SimplayHD program. Consumers don’t need to understand the technical mumbo jumbo, you just plug and play.
Going forward, the inherent short comings of the various display technologies will be eliminated. Manufacturers of LCD HDTV have improved
the technology’s ability to show true black, thus improving their contrast levels. New for the 2007-2008 models we have seen the introduction
of 120hz technology in LCD HDTVs to all but eliminate the motion blur problem of earlier LCD sets. Plasma HDTV manufacturers have began to
produce sets with anti-glare screens to achieve better performance in well lit rooms. As the trade-off between choosing one display technology
over another subsides, manufacturers will begin engineer functionality into products to fit in and adjust to our lifestyle and room environment,
instead of the other way round. The optional CEC functionality of the HDMI standard will be how manufacturers try to set their products apart
from the rest. Likely, we will be able to customize our home entertainment environments to suite our taste, with the easy and manner in which
we customize our computer desktops. Most consumers electronics manufacturers are already trying to
"brand" CEC functionality, hinting at the
importance this functionality may play in the success of future products.
In early January 2008, Simplay Labs is expected to announce an extension of it SimplayHD testing program to include testing of CEC
functionality. After that you will likely only have to know one piece of information when audition new home entertainment components --
what the SimplayHD logo for your desired feature set looks like.
HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) is a Digital Rights Management protocol. It is use to encrypt data traveling across HDMI
and DVI interfaces, so that the data can’t be copied or otherwise tampered with.
- Anynet (Samsung)
- Aquos Link (Sharp)
- BRAVIA Theatre Sync (Sony)
- Easy Connect (Mitsubishi)
- EZ Sync (Panasonic)
- Regza Link (Toshiba)
- RIHD (Onkyo)
- Simplink (LG)