Goodbye Analog – Hello DRM

Posted Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 04:30 PM PST by Mike Attebery

Component makers will soon be discontinuing the use of component cables. It might not sound like a big deal, but what if your old Blu-rays won’t play through your existing setup? It may happen next January.

Digital rights management (DRM) is a really touchy subject for consumers. DRM is the reason you can’t use Zune Pass with an iPod. It’s the reason you can’t reinstall Spore more than twice, and it’s the reason video download services are more limiting than you’d expect. But in the past, it hasn’t really been a problem for Blu-ray discs.

Admittedly, Blu-rays have some pretty strong copy protection, but there’s nothing that stops you from watching a disc you own.

Starting at the end of this year, no new hardware will be introduced that offers alternate HD outputs. If the signal going out is 720p or higher, it’ll be HDMI or bust. That doesn’t sound too bad initially. Some connections get phased out over time. It happens. The problem isn’t the new products though. It’s the old ones.

Starting January 1st, companies will be able to put something called an Image Constraint Token into their Blu-ray players. Coding this into a Blu-ray disc means that HD video will only be able to be sent out using HDMI. Your component outputs will be rendered useless.

Anyone with a component video setup currently may have to change accordingly. At the least, it will mean buying a new cable. At the most, it could mean a whole new wiring job for those with custom home theater installations, and even new components.

Of course, a company would have to embed the token to make this happen. There’s still no word on which makers will be adopting this technology.

Source: CE Pro

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Tags: Industry Trends (all tags)