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Thursday, October 06, 2005
High Definition Content Through Analog Sockets

The existing HD-enabled TV sets and current PC monitors will be possibly not part of the upcoming HDTV home concept, due to their incompatibility with the Digital Right Management schemes introduced by the movie and CE industry.

According to representatives of several consumer electronics companies, industry groups is set to rule whether millions of HDTV will have to buy new sets and PC monitors to watch the movies in high definition.

The problem concerning the reproduction of HD video content is located to the display. Movie studios want the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connection that is only now becoming a common feature on HDTVs. The digital HDMI interface is favored because it includes copy protection that makes it difficult to break into the video signal when it makes its way from the player to the TV set. But the truth is that millions of HDTV sets already in people's homes don't have HDMI output ports and use traditional analog methods to transfer video. However, analog signals pose a potential threat to studios because movie pirates could use them to copy the content.

The situation could be harder in case of the PC monitors. Taking the AACS protection scheme as a rule for HD video, both HDMI and DVI digital output interfaces would require the monitor to support the HDCP encryption scheme. However, HDCP compatible monitors are not available in the market, at least for now.

"Considering the problem, it is true that HD DVD video will not be able to be reproduced current PC monitors. Therefore, the industry examines the possibility to allow analog interfaces to output HD content to monitors," said Ryoichi Hayatsu, chief manager of NEC's 1st storage products division at Ceatec. He also added that negotiations are under way on whether a grace period could be given that would allow transmission of HD disc content across the DVI interface until perhaps 2010 to give people time to upgrade their monitors.

A decision on whether to allow high-definition over analog connections is expected sometime in October or November and will be made by the group behind the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) content protection system. AACS founders include IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, Disney, and Warner, and the decision will be made with input from content providers.

Note that AACS is used in both formats, so the decision is likely to affect both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Moreover, NEC plans to start production of its first HD DVD player for PC late October. NEC's representatives assume that the first PC equipped with the HD DVD drive will be in the market by the end of 2005.

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