The truth behind HDCP and video card support: Ars Technica has an excellent piece out on HDCP compliant components and the pickle of a dilema that consumers may find themselves in very shortly.
They point to a recent ruccus started by FiringSquad when earlier this week they reported that current retail video cards do not and will not support HDCP. HDCP is the spec requirement that you are going to need very shortly to watch your high def content on your new Vista PC.
The reason why we have to go through all this trouble? Content providers are afraid of you getting access to their HDTV content.
From Ars Technica: “We’re in the midst of a a top-down, all-points-covered attempt to lock down every part of the HD viewing experience. In a nutshell, the content industry wants to see video encrypted end-to-end and passed only among approved devices that obey content access rules defined by the industry. This is not limited to the PC. Our in-depth primer on CableCARD revealed that the lock-down will also come to include the video streams from cable providers, too. In both cases, we see a disturbing trend: not only is the technology all about locking down the content, but the implementation is becoming locked down as well. For example, while CableCARD has been heralded as the great breakthrough that will allow for Home Theatre PC nirvana, the fact that CableLabs has to certify entire machine designs means that the do-it-yourself market is likely out of luck.”
What does this mean for consumers? Well if you want to watch HDTV on your PC you very well may need not only a new CableLabs certified new PC (which would hopefully contain a HDCP certified video card), but *also* a new monitor as well in order to watch those hot new Blu-Ray and HD-DVD DVDs that you were hoping to be able to buy and watch.
In my case I would assume then that the $5,000 I paid for my Pioneer Plasma in my living room as well as the $1,100 I paid for my Dell monitor very well may have been spent buying obselete equipment.
This kind of sucks and when you read things like this it just keeps moving a middle ground view on DRM further and further towards an outright hatred of the DRM.
Has Hollywood finally gone too far? Should I have to pay another $5,000 to buy a new HDCP plasma monitor in order to view their content? Well I won’t do it myself. They can keep their Blu-Ray and HD-DVD and high def TV and I’ll walk.
Ars Technica has a pretty good description on how this might play out: “I suspect that the content industry may be in for a big, nasty surprise when all of this truly hits the public in the face. Never before has the rollout of the “next big thing” been so encumbered with built-in obsolescence, user-unfriendliness, and hypocrisy. Groans the world over will be heard when early adopters learn that their TVs won’t play Blu-ray movies. Folks who bought computers recently will be disappointed when they learn that their hard-earned money couldn’t buy them end-to-end support for HD content playback.
When you tell so many people that their electronics won’t do what they should do—what they paid for them to do—many of them are not going to like it. The content industry is going to walk away from this with a certain amount of egg on their face and a fat stamp of “greed” burned into their foreheads. And a few will will realize the ultimate inanity of it all: that while the studio’s HD content won’t play on their TV or their computers, the HD content put out by the pirates will.
And that, my good friends, will be a fine example of irony.”
Update: CNET has an article out on the topic as well.