I just read an editorial by controversial filmmaker Michael Moore last week on the Huffington Post about one of his most popular topics, General Motors. Before he got to a pretty empowering outlook for what the company could do going forward now that we, the taxpayers, own it, he reminded us that GM invented the concept of "planned obsolescence." Upon having my installers finish putting in a new, audiophile grade $8,000 AV preamp loaded with all of the latest HDMI 1.3 goodies, only to find out HDMI 1.4 had come out on the same day, I thought that Silicon Image somehow bought the rights to planned obsolescence so they could apply it to the world of consumer electronics.
About a week ago, Silicon Image - the company behind the technological abortion known as HDMI - introduced HDMI 1.4. Get this: in order to get its benefits, including better two-way connection via HDMI 1.4-compliant products (there are currently none on the market), you need all-new gear and all-new cables. I am not kidding nor did you read the last sentence incorrectly. In order to have the hopes that your system might connect properly via HDMI, you need all-new gear and all-new cables. Gear that isn't currently sold today by anybody - certainly not the higher-end brands that might supply high-end specialty AV gear.
What Silicon Image forgot to do with HDMI 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3, 1.3a and 1.3b is to make it actually WORK. To this day, HDMI is glitchy, unreliable and almost always the cause of a system's lack of picture or sound. Handshake issues prevail with HDMI 1.3, as the timing of the copy-protection chipsets can be slightly off, making a system work sometimes but then fail mere minutes later. God speed be with you if you want to connect your AV receiver or AV preamp via HDMI, as that is a "network device" and convincing HDMI that you aren't trying to steal the HD content is a constant battle that causes more and more intermittent connection problems.
Top AV installers and integrators to this day absolutely hate HDMI. The one-cable solution should have made their lives exponentially easier, but in reality, the copy-protected and slow format is often at the heart of compatibility issues that makes running a whole-home-automation system on Windows Vista seem perfectly reasonable.
Let's get this myth out of the way - component video cable can pass 1080p and even higher video 100 percent of the time with no failures, no handshake issues and no EDID confusion. However, with no copy protection, Hollywood studios are scared that consumers will steal movies. The next time you are in Shanghai, check on any street corner to see if the latest blockbusters from that week aren't for sale, often in HD. The reality is that, for every digital measure, there is a digital countermeasure. With HDMI, we have a studio-friendly format that is an installer and consumer nightmare.
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