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DVDs, STBs all set to embrace HDMI

Posted: 14 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:HDMI? DVD standard? STB configuration?

Introduced as an all-digital A/V interface by Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Sony, Silicon Image, Thomson and Toshiba, HDMI has been taking hold of the LCD TV market since 2006. Multimedia devices such as DVDs and STBs are increasingly hopping on the HDMI trend. But ironically, in China, the world's biggest manufacturing base, many are still unaware of this trend. Many manufacturers have the notion that HDMI is only for high-end products, and standard-definition (SD) products have no need for it. Because of this misconception, they are neglecting the demand of consumers for high-definition (HD) content. But in fact, one important use of HDMI is to provide a simplified digital connection between DVD/STB devices and LCD TVs. Fortunately, some manufacturers are now beginning to notice this vacuum in the market.

After several years of promotion and marketing, consumers are slowly getting familiar and finally adopting HDMI and HDMI-enabled flat-panel TVs. HDMI has now become an important selling point of flat-panel TVs. Early 2007 figures point out that HDMI inputs of new flat-panel TVs number three or four, and even some CRT TVs have one or two HDMI inputs.

According to market research firm In-Stat, 65 percent of flat-panel TVs sold worldwide in 2006 came with HDMI input, and this number will increase to 75 percent in 2008. At the present China TV market, HDMI-enabled ports are one of the top three selling points. In Europe and North America, nearly all the supermarket chains require that flat-panel TVs in all sizes should be equipped with HDMI ports. Some leading channels begin to ask TV manufacturers for flat-panel TVs that support the newest HDMI 1.3 version input.

Meanwhile, many types of HDMI-enabled A/V receivers and power amplifying devices are being pushed to market. Undoubtedly, consumers with HDMI-equipped TVs at home will purchase DVDs or STBs with HDMI outputs.

Value-added
But DVDs and STBs without HDMI ports have also presented an opportunity for manufacturers. As the number of such products and the cost pressure increase, adding HDMI ports to SD-to-HD products has enabled manufacturers to offer added value and survive the harsh cost competition.

HDMI is not only exclusive for HD applications. HDMI's most important offering is the delivery of digital A/V over a single cable. Although referred to as "High-Definition Multimedia Interface," the original intent and purpose of the specification was not merely to introduce an interface for HD multimedia applications. The HDMI specification defines that every HDMI source, like DVDs and STBs, should at least support one definition from 640 x 480p ,720 x 480p and 720 x 576p, which all belong to SD. Plus the HDMI specification has the similar requirements of terminal terminated device.

HDMI is the first industry-standard interface designed for CE applications and can transport uncompressed digital A/V via just one cable. Without an HDMI cable, consumers need at least three discrete A/V cables to do the same job. And the discrete cables maybe the disturbing sources of the audio and image. In addition, HDMI is featured by the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) protocol, which does not exist in the analog interface. Consumers can also experience the above user values in SD HDMI products.

HDMI was not popular in source devices like DVDs and STBs at its early stages partly because of its high cost. At that time, adding an HDMI port to a DVD or STB with a costly HDMI transmitter would result in a 40-50 percent increase in system cost, an expense deemed steep for most manufacturer. With the widespread adoption of HDMI however, low-cost transmitters are now coming to market.

Forecasts show that more than 50 percent of DVDs and STBs produced will comply with HDMI standard, and next-generation DVD formats--Blu-ray and HD DVD--will support the HDMI 1.3 version port in 2008.

- Courtesy of EE Times China




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