What happens if you don’t have HDCP?
Without HDCP, you will only be able to output premium content of analog connections. In the case of VGA or high-definition component video, PVP-OPM will either constrict (decrease resolution) or completely disable output. Relevant quotes from Microsoft’s article include:
“It is strongly recommended that YPbPr not be promoted to users as a connection method to HD displays—customers will be unhappy when the PVP-OPM component is required to tell the driver to constrict or even turn off HD analog YPbPr outputs.”
“There have been some successes in getting content owners to make some allowances for [analog VGA]. Consumers would certainly be unhappy if it were immediately outlawed; so instead, many content owners are requiring that its resolution be constricted when certain types of premium content are being played. Eventually they may require that analog VGA outputs be turned off completely; but for the moment, it is possible to provide the necessary level of protection by constricting the information content.”
As you know, FiringSquad strongly recommends that LCD monitors be connected using digital interfaces such as DVI. This is the only way we test our monitors.
Where can I find HDCP Monitors?
Although a big deal has been made about the lack of HDCP support in graphics cards recently, monitor manufacturers have also been slow to adopt HDCP. Arguably, every monitor designed after Summer 2005 should have implemented HDCP. The lack of HDCP support on a 17” or 19” 1280x1024 display means that you’re losing about half of the pixels that the monitor is capable of. The bigger issue is with the high resolution monitors capable of displaying 1680x1050 and 1920x1200. Without HDCP, these high-resolution resolution widescreen displays are only showing a 1/3 or 1/4 of the pixels available.
To date, we have only identified 12 HDCP compliant monitors! Five are going to be featured in next week’s review (we’re still waiting on one of the monitors to arrive):
1. Gateway FPD2185W
2. HP f2105
3. NEC MultiSync 20WMGX2
4. Samsung SyncMaster 244T
5. Viewsonic VP2330wb
The remaining HDCP PC monitors that we are aware of include:
6. Dell 3007WFP
7. Samsung 214T
8. Samsung 930MP
9. Samsung 940MW
10. Samsung 242MP
11. Sony MFM-HT95
12. Sony MFM-HT75W
Only the North American NEC 20WMGX2 features HDCP support. In Europe, NEC sells the 20WGX2 (missing the “M” for multimedia). The European models DO NOT support HDCP.
In the consumer electronics world (CE), virtually all modern DLP, LCD, and Plasma televisions support DVI-HDCP or HDMI/HDCP. Although HDMI and HDCP are separate standards, we are not aware of any HDMI-enabled televisions that do not also incorporate HDCP. HDCP is also used in other home theater equipment as well such as DVD players that upconvert to higher resolutions and high-definition digital set top boxes available from digital cable and satellite providers.
Unlike the CE market, the transition to high-definition content-protected video on the PC is going to be shaky. The video cards aren’t ready, and just as importantly, the monitors aren’t quiet ready yet either. Most manufacturers seem to be trickling down their HDCP support from the flagship products and working their way down. The only HDCP LCD PC monitors under 20” come from Sony. That said, as much ire as we want to give to the monitor industry for being slow to release HDCP PC monitors, Dell, Gateway, HP, NEC, Samsung, Sony, and Viewsonic have all beaten the graphics card manufacturers in this race.
It’s interesting to note that Gateway, HP, NEC, Dell, and Viewsonic only have one model in their entire line-up with HDCP support. Sony was first to market with an HDCP monitor, and Samsung has several choices. While you might assume that this is because Sony and Samsung have a strong presence in the consumer electronics market, HP and Dell are both aggressively backing Blu-Ray technology as well. All of these companies plan to have additional HDCP monitors in the coming months. This round-up is missing monitors from LG and BenQ. Unfortunately, these two manufacturers did not have an HDCP-compliant monitor for us to review.
If we’re missing any PC monitors with HDCP support, we’d be glad to add them to our list. Just send us an email. For our definition of a PC monitor, however, the display should have a 0.30 mm pixel pitch or smaller. Once you have a display with >0.30mm, it will join the millions of HDTVs sold in the last few years that feature HDCP.