Published On: June 9, 2009

HDMI 1.4 - Another New Example of Planned Obsolesce Imposed On The Home Theater Market

Published On: June 9, 2009

HDMI 1.4 - Another New Example of Planned Obsolesce Imposed On The Home Theater Market

HomeTheaterReview.com publisher/editor Jerry Del Colliano weighs in on the way that a lot of home video products, including HDMI L4, are designed in ways that mean they will either not be compatible with newer items or fail to work altogether in the foreseeable future.

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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.

Read more about HDMI 1.4 from this resource page.

Read reviews of HDMI 1.4 AV Receivers Here...

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.

Read Much More on Page 2

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Consumers buy AV receivers, players and HDTVs, often using the Consumer Reports-inspired "laundry list effect." If one unit is HDMI 1.4 and another one is HDMI 1.3, then 1.4 must be better, right? Savvy consumers know that just because "This one goes to eleven," like Nigel Tufnel says, doesn't mean it is better (or will play louder). Moreover, specialty AV companies cannot keep up with the volume needed to change specifications as quickly as Silicon Image updates HDMI. The result is that many AV companies are staying out of the fray altogether, resulting in hundreds of thousands of the most enthusiastic high-end consumers being disenfranchised and stuck with old technology.

Read more about HDMI 1.4 from this resource page.

Read reviews of HDMI 1.4 AV Receivers Here...

What many consumers are doing is simply waiting. They are sticking with their old systems, and who can fault them? While 7.1 Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio sound truly incredible, is it worth the headaches that come from changing a top of the line system from two years ago to bleeding-edge (and now obsolete) HDMI 1.3? Most people say no. Factoring in the idea that their homes are worth 60 cents on the dollar, why not live with their old systems when money is tight and unemployment is nearing ten percent?

The growing fear among HDMI insiders is that the love affair with HDMI and its God-awful HDCP copy-protection is going to make it so that future devices won't pass any HD content without an HDMI connection, leaving reportedly 20,000,000 to 30,000,000 HDTV users with fully functional 720p HDTV sets connected via component cables stuck with upscaled SD 480i content. Can you say class action lawsuit?

The fact is that we can never put the genie back in the bottle with HDMI. The movie studios control the content and they don't want that content copied. I understand their concerns. However, HDMI doesn't work. I have lived the nightmare, along with every other installer, calibrator and home theater store. Now we get another level of planned obsolescence from Silicon Image to add even more confusion to the marketplace. Why - so we can someday have 3D content at home? How about they make 1080p work 100 percent of the time first?

Read more about HDMI 1.4 from this resource page.

Read reviews of HDMI 1.4 AV Receivers Here...

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